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 http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/, 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 (http://nwifc.org/).




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 http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. Comments about salmon fisheries can also be submitted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/comments.html




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 http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/feb2317a.pdf. 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.”




Commission invites public comments at hearing on Columbia salmon policy

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OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on proposed options for implementing the state’s reform policy on Columbia River salmon management during a meeting scheduled Dec. 9-10 in Olympia.

In addition, the commission is scheduled to take action on a variety of new saltwater fishing rules as well as proposed changes in the protective status of five state wildlife species, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, American white pelicans, marbled murrelets, and lynx.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building at 1111 Washington St. S.E. in Olympia. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. both days.

A complete agenda is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.

The Columbia River reform policy, adopted by the commission in 2013, outlines a joint strategy by Washington and Oregon to restructure recreational and commercial salmon fisheries below Bonneville Dam. With the next phase of that plan set to take effect in 2017, state fishery managers will outline possible options for shaping the course of the reform effort in the years ahead.

Options currently under review by the commission are posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/lower_columbia/options.html. The public can comment on those options online and during a public comment period at the upcoming meeting at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.

The commission will not take action on the Columbia River reform policy at that meeting, but will decide on 11 saltwater sportfishing rules proposed for adoption for the 2017 season.

One proposal would require that vessels fishing for bottomfish or halibut in Puget Sound carry a descending device allowing anglers to safely return rockfish to deep water. Another would make it unlawful to possess another person’s shellfish or food fish in the field or in transit without written permission. To review all 11 proposals online, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/2017-2018/recommend.php

In other action, the commission will consider removing bald eagles and peregrine falcons from Washington’s sensitive species list, and reducing the protective status of white pelicans from “endangered” to “threatened.” Surveys show that all three species have rebounded in Washington state, due to the federal ban on the pesticide DDT and other factors.

At the same time, the commission will consider elevating the protective status of marbled murrelets and lynx to “endangered” from “threatened” status in response to declining populations of those species. More information is available on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/.

The commission will also:

  • Discuss plans to seek additional funding and partnerships to better connect people with nature and to implement the State Wildlife Action Plan to conserve Washington’s diverse fish and wildlife and their habitats.
  • Receive a staff briefing on the North of Falcon season-setting process for state salmon fisheries.
  • Receive a staff briefing on scientific research projects currently underway at the department.


Columbia River Fishing Report Washington 11-04-2016

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11/04/2016 – J. W. Snyder – Fishing The Columbia

Columbia River Fishing Report:


WDFW Fishing Rule Change


Columbia River reopens for coho, steelhead from the mouth to Pasco

Action: Beginning Nov. 5, anglers may again catch and retain coho salmon and steelhead on the mainstem Columbia downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge near Pasco, Washington.

Species affected: Coho and steelhead

Effective dates: Nov. 5 through Dec. 31, 2016.

Location: Mainstem Columbia from Buoy 10 upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge.

Reason for action: Wild Snake River fall chinook salmon have cleared the Columbia River, and there are more coho and hatchery steelhead available for harvest. Fishing for salmon and steelhead has been closed since Oct. 22 in those waters to protect Snake River fall chinook, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Additional information: The daily limit is two salmonids, only one of which may be a hatchery steelhead. The fishery will remain closed from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam.

Information contact: (360) 696-6211. For latest information press *1010.



Columbia River Fishing Report 01-29-2017

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11/04/2016 – J. W. Snyder – Fishing The Columbia

Columbia River Fishing Report:

The latest reports on the Columbia river are that the water is cold with visibility at about 3-4 feet. Word is that there’s still some catch and release sturgeon fishing going on up above the Bonneville, but the thing anglers should note, is that the smelt are starting to enter the river. If the smelt are in the river that means the Spring Chinook are there too. Look for the Spring Chinook action to start picking up on the Columbia soon and watch our for those pesky sea lions, there are sure to be there too.


This Columbia River fishing report provided by Swannys Guided Fishing 








Columbia River Fishing Report Oregon 11-03-2016

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11/03/2016 – J. W. Snyder – Fishing The Columbia

Columbia River Fishing Report:


ODFW Fishing Rule Change


Columbia reopens to coho and steelhead fishing
CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Recreational coho salmon and steelhead fishing will reopen at 12:01 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 5 on the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth at Buoy 10 upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco Wash., under rules adopted today by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington.

Fishery managers opted to reopen the coho and steelhead fisheries, which were closed along with Chinook salmon retention on Oct. 22 to allow wild Snake River Chinook to move upstream. Recent fish passage data at Bonneville and Ice Harbor dams indicate the Chinook migration is now essentially complete. Chinook retention remains closed through Dec. 31, 2016.

The Columbia River coho and steelhead fisheries are expected to proceed without any significant impact on remaining Chinook returns. The bag limit under the new rules is up to two adult salmonids, and may include one hatchery steelhead.



Columbia River Fishing Report 09-28-2016

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09/28/2016- John Snyder – Fishing The Columbia


2016 Columbia River Fishing Report:


WDFW Fishing Rule Change


WDFW extends sturgeon fishing, raises limit in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs

Action: Extend the harvest season for sturgeon

Effective Dates: Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, 2016

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: Harvestable surplus of hatchery-origin white sturgeon still remain in both reservoirs. Removal of these hatchery-origin fish is consistent with ongoing actions to rebuild depressed populations of wild-origin white sturgeon in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs.

Other information:

  • A daily limit of three (3) sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches fork length may be harvested from Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs.
  • Legal-size fish may be harvested whether or not they are marked by a fin clip, hole punch, or tag.
  • Only one single-point barbless hook and bait is allowed per pole while fishing for sturgeon. However, anglers may fish with two poles with the purchase of a Two-Pole Endorsement license.
  • Anglers are not required to record sturgeon harvested from Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs on a Catch Record Card. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs after the daily limit is harvested.
  • Any sturgeon not to be harvested must be released immediately. Oversized sturgeon cannot be removed completely or in part from the water.
  • There is no annual harvest limit for sturgeon between 38 and 72 inches fork length caught in the Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs.
  • Night fishing for sturgeon is prohibited. In the field, anglers must retain eggs with intact carcass of fish from which they came.

All closed-water areas in and around Wanapum, Priest Rapids, and Rock Island dams remain in effect. Check the current sport fishing rules pamphlet for complete details (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/).

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, ext. 250 or Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager, (509) 754-4624, ext. 224 



Columbia River Fishing Report 09-28-2016

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09/28/2016 – J. W. Snyder – Fishing The Columbia 


2016 Columbia River Fishing Report:


WDFW Fishing Rule Change


Release steelhead marked with hole punch in Upper Columbia River fisheries

Action: Anglers are required to release hatchery steelhead that have a ¼-inch diameter (round) hole punched in the upper lobe of the caudal (tail) fin

Effective dates:  Oct. 1 through Dec. 6, 2016

Species affected:  Hatchery steelhead

Location(s):  Columbia River from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers (CRC 534, 535)

Reason for action:  Wild and hatchery steelhead are sedated in a chemical anesthetic, MS-222, during sampling at Priest Rapids Dam. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires a 21-day withdrawal period before human consumption of fish anesthetized in MS-222.  WDFW staff are applying the ¼-inch diameter hole punched in the upper lobe of the tail of sampled hatchery fish so that fishermen can visually identify fish that must be released. Hatchery steelhead marked and released at Priest Rapids Dam may be caught in the Ringold-area fishery downstream because of “fall back” below the dam.  

All other current regulations apply to the fishery affected by this rule change.

Information contacts:  John Easterbrooks, Region 3 Fish Program Manager, (509) 457-9330 (Yakima).

Lunker’s Guide fishing report is sponsored by Bill Swan of Swanny’s Fishing  

This concludes our 2016 Columbia River Fishing Report