States set initial fishing seasons for Columbia River spring chinook

Photo Courtesy of St. Laurent Guide Service


PORTLAND – Salmon managers from Washington and Oregon have approved sportfishing seasons for spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River, setting the stage for the first major salmon fishery of the year.

Anglers are already catching a few spring chinook in the lower Columbia below the Interstate 5 bridge, but the bulk of the run usually doesn’t arrive until March when the new rules take effect.

According to the preseason forecast, approximately 248,500 spring chinook salmon will return to the Columbia River this year – an increase of 20 percent from 2017. That number includes 166,700 upriver fish bound for waters above Bonneville Dam and 81,820 fish expected to return to rivers below the dam.

Bill Tweit, a special assistant for Columbia River fisheries at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), noted that the upriver forecast is up 44 percent from last year, but still 10 percent below the 10-year average.

“This year’s fishery appears to be shaping up as a fairly normal season,” Tweit said. “Even so, we always have to take a conservative approach in setting fishing seasons until we can determine how many fish are actually moving past Bonneville Dam.”

Based on the preseason projections, the two states approved initial fishing seasons for waters both below and above the dam:

  • Below Bonneville Dam: Catch guidelines approved today allocate 6,680 upriver fish for a 38-day fishing season below Bonneville Dam from March 1 through April 7. The fishery will be open to both boat and bank anglers from Buoy 10 to Beacon Rock, and to bank anglers only upriver to the dam.
  • Above the dam: Spring chinook fishing will also be open March 16 through May 7 from the Tower Island power lines upriver to the Washington/Oregon border near Umatilla. The season will run for 53 days with an initial catch guideline of 900 upriver chinook. Bank fishing will also be allowed from the dam upriver to the power lines.

In both areas, the daily catch limit will be one adult hatchery chinook salmon, as part of a two-fish daily limit that can also include hatchery coho salmon and hatchery steelhead. Anglers fishing the Columbia River will be required to use barbless hooks, and must release any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin.

Tweit said this year’s initial catch guidelines include a 30 percent “buffer” in the preseason forecast to guard against overharvesting the run. If actual returns meet or exceed expectations, fish held in reserve will become available for harvest later in the season, he said.

Fishery managers will likely meet in May – when half the run has historically passed Bonneville Dam – to determine if this year’s fishing season can be extended.

To participate in this fishery, anglers age 15 and older must possess a valid fishing license. In addition, anglers fishing upriver from Rocky Point must purchase a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries.

Additional information about fishing rules in effect during the upcoming spring chinook season is posted on WDFW’s website at 





Columbia River Fishing Report 07-03-2017


Summer chinook fishery reopens on the lower Columbia River
OLYMPIA – The fishery for summer chinook salmon is scheduled to reopen tomorrow (July 7) and run through July 31 on the lower Columbia River.
A new, higher projection of this year’s summer chinook return allowed fishery managers from Washington and Oregon to reopen the fishery below Bonneville Dam after closing the season early last week.

Based on the latest projection, 74,100 adult summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year – up from 63,100 anticipated at the start of the season. As a result, the catch guideline for the recreational fishery has increased by 1,290 fish, said Ron Roler, a Columbia River fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“The higher run forecast allows us to reopen the fishery through the end of the summer season, when the fall fishing season gets underway,” Roler said. “That’s been our goal all along, so long as the fishery meets established conservation standards.”

The area of the Columbia River affected by the states’ action extends from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upriver to Bonneville Dam. As before, anglers can catch up to two adult hatchery chinook, two adult sockeye, or one of each. One hatchery steelhead may also be retained as part of two-fish daily limit.

Barbless hooks are required, and anglers must release any summer chinook with an intact adipose fin.

Washington state fishing rules are posted on WDFW’s website at




Columbia River Fishing Report 06-29-2017

Photo Courtesy of Columbia River Fishing Adventures


Anglers must release adult chinook salmon starting July 1 on the lower Columbia River


OLYMPIA – Starting Saturday (July 1), anglers fishing the lower Columbia River must release any adult summer chinook salmon they intercept under new rules approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

By then, this year’s recreational catch is expected to reach the 2,656-fish harvest guideline established by those states from the Megler-Astoria Bridge to Bonneville Dam.

Anglers fishing those waters can still catch and keep sockeye salmon, hatchery steelhead and hatchery “jack” chinook as outlined in the current state fishing rules.

The new rule also does not affect summer chinook fisheries now underway – and just getting started – upriver from Bonneville Dam.

Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the chinook fishery that opened June 16 below the dam went more quickly than in some years.

“One reason is that colder water in the Columbia helped to boost catch rates,” Roler said. “Another is that this year’s projected run is smaller than average, reducing the number of adult fish available for harvest.”

Fishery managers project that 63,100 adult summer chinook will return to the Columbia River this year, compared to the 10-year average of 72,100 fish. Last year, 91,048 summer chinook returned to the river.

Roler added that the two states will consider reopening the fishery if fish counts at Bonneville Dam show this year’s return is larger than expected.

“On average, half the run has passed the dam by July 1,” he said. “We’ll keep a close eye on how it goes from there.”

Washington state fishing rules are posted on WDFW’s website at



Columbia River Fishing Reports

Here is the latest Columbia River Fishing Reports provided by the WDFW

McNary Dam Pool and Hanford Reach summer salmon fishery changes


Action: Opens McNary Dam Pool and Hanford Reach recreational salmon fisheries. 

Effective date:  June 16 through June 30, 2017

Species affected: Chinook, sockeye and steelhead.

Area 1:  Columbia River from McNary Dam to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco (CRC 533).

Daily Limit: six (6), up to two may be adult salmon or one adult salmon and one hatchery steelhead. Release all salmon other than hatchery chinook and sockeye.

Area 2:  Columbia River from Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to the Interstate 182 Bridge at Richland near Columbia Point (CRC 534).

Daily Limit: four (4) salmon, of which no more than one (1) may be an adult hatchery chinook and no more than two (2) may be sockeye. Release wild adult chinook.

Area 3:  Columbia River from the Interstate 182 Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam (CRC 535, 536).

Daily Limit: six (6) salmon, of which no more than two (2) may be adult hatchery chinook and no more than three (3) may be sockeye. Release wild adult chinook.

Other information: Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and must have a current Washington fishing license, as well as a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement (CRSSE).

Reason for action: These changes were proposed and discussed during the North of Falcon salmon season rule-setting public process and will be adopted by permanent rule later this summer and be published in the 2017-18 sport fishing rules pamphlet.

Information contacts:  Paul Hoffarth, District 4 Fish Biologist, (509) 545-2284 (Pasco) or John Easterbrooks, Regional Fish Program Manager, (509) 457-9330.



Columbia River sturgeon fisheries approved below and above Bonneville

Photo courtesy of Great NW River Guide Service


OLYMPIA – Starting Monday (June 5), anglers can catch and keep white sturgeon in the lower Columbia River for the first time in three years under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

The two states approved the limited retention fishery based on surveys indicating that the number of legal-size sturgeon below Bonneville Dam has grown each year since 2014, when the fishery was closed to allow stocks to rebuild.

The fishery will be open for six days from the mouth of the river to the Wauna power lines (downstream from Longview) on the following schedule:

  • Monday, June 5; Wednesday, June 7; Saturday, June 10
  • Monday, June 12; Wednesday, June 14; Saturday, June 17

Anglers will not be allowed to retain sturgeon after 2 p.m. on any of those days.

Anglers will have a daily limit of one fish measuring 44 to 50 inches from its snout to the fork in its tail. An annual limit of two white sturgeon, regardless of where they are caught, will also be in effect.

In a separate action, both states also approved a one-day sturgeon fishery for Saturday, June 10 in the Bonneville Pool, where 229 fish are available for harvest under current harvest guidelines. The legal size limit for that fishery is 38 to 54 inches.

Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the two states are taking a “cautionary approach” to the fishery below Bonneville Dam.

“We believe the sturgeon population in the lower river has increased to the point where it can support a limited fishery, without impeding future growth,” Roler said. “This is a very popular fishery, and we need to take this one step at a time.”

Roler said the fishery managers currently estimate there are 165,600 legal-size fish in the Columbia River Bonneville Dam. The harvest guideline for the upcoming fishery is 3,000 sturgeon.

In designing the fishery, the two states adopted several measures specifically aimed at controlling the catch, Roler said. Those measures include:

  • Holding the harvest rate to 3.8 percent, compared to 14.5 percent in the years before the closure.
  • Protecting larger-size fish by reducing the previous maximum size limit of 54 inches to a 50-inch maximum fork length.
  • Reducing the range of legal-sized fish from 38-54 inches to 44-50 inches.

For additional information about both sturgeon openings, see WDFW’s Emergency Fishing Rule webpage at

Roler noted that the fishery will overlap with the arrival and departure of the Rose Festival fleet on June 10 and June 12. Anglers are advised that there is a Homeland Security buffer of 500 yards surrounding all naval vessels and boats are not permitted to approach within 100 yards.




Sturgeon fishery opens June 3 in Priest Rapids, Wanapum reservoirs



Action: Allow harvest of sturgeon. 

Effective dates: One hour before official sunrise on June 3 through one hour after official sunset on Sept. 30, 2017.

Species affected: White sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches fork length. 

Location: Priest Rapids Reservoir (from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam) and Wanapum Reservoir (from Wanapum Dam to Rock Island Dam). 

Reason for action: Hatchery-origin white sturgeon residing in Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs since the early 2000s are abundant and have grown to a harvestable size. Removal of these hatchery-origin fish is consistent with ongoing actions to rebuild depressed populations of wild-origin white sturgeon in Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs. 

Other information:

Daily limit of one (1) sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches fork length may be harvested from Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs.

Annual limit of two (2) sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches fork length may be harvested from Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs. Anglers are required to record sturgeon harvested from Priest Rapids (537) and Wanapum (539) reservoirs on a Catch Record Card.

Catch-and-release fishing is allowed in Priest Rapids and Wanapum reservoirs after the daily limit is harvested.

Any sturgeon not to be harvested must be released immediately. Oversized sturgeon cannot be removed totally or in part from the water.

Night closure is in effect for sturgeon. Official sunrise and sunset times can be found at:  

Only one single-point barbless hook and bait is allowed while fishing for sturgeon.

Anglers may fish for sturgeon with two poles with the purchase of a Two-Pole Endorsement license.

In the field, eggs must be retained with intact carcass of fish from which they came.

All closed-water areas in and around Priest Rapids, Wanapum, and Rock Island dams are still in effect. Check the current sport fishing rules pamphlet for complete details (

Daily and annual limits, harvestable slot length limits, Catch Record Card recording requirements, and all other sport fishing rules governing sturgeon harvest in all other legally open fisheries still apply. 

Information Contact:  Chad Jackson, District Fish Biologist, (509) 754-4624 x250



Washington’s State salmon fisheries set for 2017

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Washington anglers can expect a mixed bag of salmon fisheries this year with slightly increased opportunities in the ocean, seasons similar to last year in the Columbia River, and continued restrictions in Puget Sound. 

The state’s 2017 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Sacramento, Calif.

In recent years, unfavorable environmental conditions, such as warm ocean water and drought, have reduced the number of salmon returning to Washington’s waters, said Kyle Adicks, salmon policy lead for WDFW.

“We’re in the third year of a multi-year downturn in salmon returns,” Adicks said. “Similar to last year, we faced significant challenges in crafting fisheries.”

With low returns of coho and wild chinook expected back to several rivers, fishery managers are limiting opportunities in some areas to protect those fish. The most severe restrictions will be in Puget Sound marine and freshwater areas, where the forecast is for extremely low returns of “key stocks,” such as Skagit River coho and Nooksack River chinook.

“We made some difficult decisions this year in order to protect weak salmon stocks,” said Adicks. “However, we worked with constituents to preserve fishing opportunities where it made sense.”

Anglers fishing for coho in Puget Sound marine areas will have improved opportunities in areas 9-13 while those fishing in areas 5-8 will see closures or will be limited to openings that align with chinook seasons. That’s still an improvement from last year, when only Hood Canal and south Sound were open for coho fishing. Rivers such as the Skagit and Stillaguamish also will be closed to coho fishing this year.

Opportunities for chinook fishing in Puget Sound marine areas are somewhat similar to last year with a few more closures in the winter. Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) are scheduled to be open from July 16 through Aug. 15, like in 2016. However, both areas have higher catch quotas that should provide better opportunity.

Anglers will have limited opportunities to fish for pink salmon in Puget Sound due to projected low returns of pinks this year. There are no “bonus bag” limits for pink salmon in 2017.

In the Columbia River, anglers will see salmon fisheries that are similar to last year. The popular Buoy 10 fishery opens Aug. 1 while the chinook fishery on the mainstem from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge will be open from June 16 through July 31 for hatchery summer chinook and sockeye.

Anglers fishing Washington’s ocean waters will be able to retain chinook, as well as coho salmon in all four marine areas, as compared to 2016 when coho retention was limited only to Marine Area 1. Salmon fisheries get underway daily in areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) on June 24 and on July 1 in Marine Area 2 (Westport).

Information on recreational salmon fisheries in Washington’s ocean waters and the lower Columbia River is available at, where notable changes to this year’s Puget Sound sport salmon fisheries also can be found. Details on all recreational salmon fisheries will be provided in the 2017-18 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in late June.

For information on tribal fisheries, contact the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (




Columbia River Fishing Report 03-30-2017

Photo courtesy of Swannys Guided Fishing

Columbia River Spring chinook fishery extended four days below Bonneville Dam


OLYMPIA – State fishery managers have extended the initial sportfishing season for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River by four days in response to poor fishing conditions caused by extremely high, turbid water.

The initial fishing period, previously set to close April 6, was extended through April 10 under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

As of March 26, catch estimates show that Washington state anglers had caught a total of 24 upriver spring chinook salmon, just a fraction of the expected harvest of 6,905 upriver chinook through April 6.

“It’s clear that the spring chinook catch is running well below expectations, so we’re announcing the extension now to give the angling community and industry time to plan ahead,” said John Long, southwest regional manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Although this year’s upriver spring chinook run to the Columbia River is predicted to be about 35 percent lower than in 2016, Long said that is not the primary reason for anglers’ lack of success. The real problem, he said, is that record-setting streamflows carrying logs and other debris, which has made fishing difficult – and potentially dangerous – in recent weeks.

“Test fisheries show that the spring chinook run has arrived, but in a lot of cases visibility in the river is so limited that the fish can’t see the anglers’ lures,” Long said.

He suggests that anglers check reports of streamflows and fish-passage levels at Bonneville Dam for signs of improving fishing conditions.

The spring chinook fishery upriver from Bonneville Dam to the Washington-Oregon border near Umatilla is open until May 5, and will not be affected by the extension in the lower river. If spring chinook return at or above projections, fishery managers plan to provide additional fishing opportunities in both areas later this spring.

Anglers fishing those waters are allowed to retain one marked, hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon as part of their daily limit of two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each. Any chinook or steelhead without a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar must be released unharmed.




Meetings set for March 28-30 on salmon fisheries in sections of Columbia and Snake rivers

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OLYMPIA – Anglers have three opportunities in March to meet with state fishery managers to talk about salmon fisheries in the mid- and upper Columbia River and lower Snake River before this year’s seasons are set.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled three public meetings to discuss pre-season salmon forecasts and upcoming spring, summer and fall fishing seasons – particularly those proposed for salmon upstream from McNary Dam.

Those meetings are as scheduled:

  • Wenatchee: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 28, Chelan PUD, 327 N Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee.
  • Clarkston: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 29, Walla Walla Community College, Clarkston Campus Auditorium, 1470 Bridge St., Clarkston.
  • Kennewick: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., March 30, Kennewick Irrigation District, 2015 S. Ely St., Kennewick.

The Kennewick meeting is being held at a new location – the Kennewick Irrigation District – this year compared to the past few years.

These meetings are part of the salmon season-setting process known as North of Falcon, which involves representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and recreational and commercial fishing industries. Additional public meetings have been scheduled through early April to discuss regional fisheries.

Final salmon fishing seasons are scheduled to be adopted at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting April 7-11 in Sacramento, Calif.

A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process for Puget Sound, the Columbia River and the Washington coast are available on WDFW’s website at Comments about salmon fisheries can also be submitted online at




2017 Columbia River Fishing Report 02-23-2017

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Photo Courtesy of Swannys Guided Fishing


Washington and Oregon set initial Columbia River spring chinook season


VANCOUVER, Wash. – Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today approved an initial sport fishery for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River that reflects a lower projection of returning fish but a larger share of the catch than in previous years.

Initial catch guidelines set by the two states will allow anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam to catch up to 6,905 upriver spring chinook through April 6, before the early season closes until mid-May for a run assessment.

Under the preseason forecast, approximately 160,400 upriver spring chinook are expected to return to the waters above Bonneville Dam this year, which represent about 80 percent of the 10-year average. Spring chinook returns to the Willamette River and other tributaries are also expected to be lower than in recent years.

On the other hand, 80 percent of the allowable catch of upriver spring chinook will be allocated to the sport fishery – up from 70 percent in previous years – based on policies recently adopted by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions.

The allocation for the commercial fishery will be reduced accordingly and no commercial fisheries will be considered before the run update in mid-May, said Ron Roler, a Columbia River fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

As in previous years, both states will manage the recreational fishery with a 30 percent buffer on the upriver chinook forecast until the results of the in-season run update are known, Roler said.

“We’ll continue to take a conservative approach in managing the fishery,” he said. “If the fish return at or above expectations, we will look toward providing additional days of fishing on the river later in the spring.”

The following fishing regulations will be in effect below Bonneville Dam from March 1 through April 6:

  • Fishing area: The fishery is currently open downstream from the Interstate 5 Bridge, but will expand upstream starting March 1 under the new rules. Fishing will then be open to boat and bank anglers daily from the mouth of the Columbia to Beacon Rock. Bank anglers can also fish upriver to Bonneville Dam.
  • Daily limit: Anglers are allowed one marked, hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon as part of their daily limit of two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each. Any chinook or steelhead without a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar must be released unharmed.
  • Lewis River area closure: An area of the Columbia River will be closed to all fishing near the mouth of the Lewis River, as defined by the fishing rule posted on WDFW’s website at Anglers must also release any spring chinook in the Lewis River itself downstream from Merwin Dam.

The two states also approved a sport fishery between Bonneville Dam and the Washington-Oregon border, east of Umatilla, to open March 16 and run through May 5. The early season allocation for that area is 921 spring chinook.

Roler said river conditions could pose a challenge to anglers this season, noting that the Columbia River is currently running high and off-color with a substantial snowpack remaining in the Cascade Range.

“We ask anglers to keep watch for changing fishing rules, but it’s also important to keep a close eye on the river conditions,” he said. “Boat anglers, in particular, have a hard time catching fish when the river is running high and dirty, and personal safety has to be everyone’s first priority.”