Those targeting spring chinook in the Lower Columbia River will get at least six extra days to wet a line.
Fisheries managers in Washington and Oregon have decided to keep sport fishing open downstream from Bonneville Dam through April 14, except for a closure on April 8 for a possible commercial fishery. Originally the season was supposed to stay open until Monday (April 7).
“The water is pretty dirty below the mouth of the Cowlitz and Willamette, and only a foot of visibility in the Cathlamet area,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Catches were kind of bouncing around where it is good one day and kind of slow the next.”
The extra time on the water will make up for the high, turbid conditions that have prevailed in recent weeks and kept the catch guideline below expectations, but was the water was expected to improve soon.
State Fish and Wildlife had projected the catch to land around 12,000 chinook, including a maximum allowable catch of 10,100 upriver-bound fish by this Monday (April 7).
The in-season updated projection will now land around 3,000 fish by that date leaving ample fish still to catch.
Fishing is open from Buoy 10 at the Lower Columbia mouth up to Beacon Rock for boat and bank fishermen, and to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam for bank anglers only.
The daily limit is one hatchery-marked adult spring chinook. Anglers can also keep shad and hatchery-marked steelhead.
State Fish and Wildlife has forecasted a strong return of about 227,000 upriver-bound spring chinook to the Columbia River, but the fishery has a 30 percent “buffer” to guard against overharvesting.
More days could be possibly added on top of the extension depending on how catch rates go, and if the return comes in above the forecast.
Spring chinook fishing above Bonneville Dam in the Columbia is open through May 9.