State Fish and Wildlife managers set the Lower Columbia River spring chinook fishing seasons, and based them on the expected small fish forecasts.
The adopted regulations will begin March 1, and until then fisheries will be open under rules developed last season.
The upriver spring chinook forecast calls for 141,400 fish to return, which is about 25 percent below the 10-year average and down after three strong returns in 2011, 2010 and 2009. Last year, 203,000 returned to areas above Bonneville Dam.
Anglers this spring will be allowed to catch up to 5,000 hatchery upriver chinook below Bonneville during a season that will be open through April 5, but could go longer if the catch levels remain under the guideline.
An additional 670 adult hatchery fish will go to anglers fishing between Bonneville Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam.
Last year, anglers fishing below the dam caught 10,160 upriver spring chinook, along with 3,175 returning to tributaries of the Lower Columbia River.
While the upriver forecast is smaller than the past few years, it is still twice as large to the ones that occurred in the 1990s.
Only hatchery-marked chinook with a clipped adipose fin may be kept in the fishery, and all wild chinook must be released. A new rule implemented on the Columbia River mainstem below the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam requires anglers to now use barbless hooks.
Here is a rundown on rules for this season’s spring chinook fishery:
Spring chinook fishing is currently open daily for boat and bank anglers from Buoy 10 to the I-5 Bridge. The sport fishery extend to Beacon Rock March 1 through April 5. Sport fishing will be closed March 26 and April 2 for possible commercial fisheries.
Beginning March 1, bank anglers may fish from from Beacon Rock up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.
Fishing above Bonneville Dam will be open daily to boat and bank anglers March 16 through May 5 between the Tower Island powerlines six miles below The Dalles Dam and the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can fish from Bonneville Dam upriver to the Tower Island powerlines during that period.
Beginning March 1, anglers below Bonneville Dam may keep one hatchery adipose-fin clipped adult spring chinook daily. Anglers above Bonneville may keep two hatchery-marked adult spring chinook daily beginning March 16.
Fisheries officials will manage the fisheries with a 30 percent buffer until the forecast can be updated in late April or early May.
(Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)