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Category: Washington Fishing Reports

States Projection low spring chinook returns and constrain Columbia River fishing seasons

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VANCOUVER, Wash. – Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today approved a sports fishery, for spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River that reflects a significant reduction in the number of fish available for harvest this year.

According to preseason projections, about 99,300 upriver spring chinook will reach the Columbia this year, down 14 percent from last year and 50 percent below the 10-year average. Those fish return to hatcheries and spawning areas upriver from Bonneville Dam.

In addition, fishery managers are also expecting much lower returns than last year to several major lower Columbia River tributaries, particularly the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers. On the Cowlitz, this year’s spring chinook run is projected to reach just 11 percent of the 10-year average and fall short of meeting hatchery production goals.

Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said those projections are largely the result of poor ocean conditions, which have complicated fisheries management in recent years.

“Anglers will still find some good fishing opportunities in the Columbia River Basin this spring, but conservation has to be our first concern,” Lothrop said. “We have a responsibility to protect salmon runs listed under the federal Endangered Species Act and get enough fish back to the spawning grounds and hatcheries to support future runs.”

Although salmon fishing is currently open from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Interstate-5 bridge, spring chinook usually don’t arrive in large numbers until mid-to-late March. The new fishing regulations approved today will take effect in the following areas:

  • Columbia River below Bonneville Dam: Salmon fishing will open March 1 through April 10 on the Columbia River upstream from Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. Anglers may retain two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock will be closed to fishing from March 1 through April 10 to conserve spring chinook returning to the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers.
  • Tributaries: The Cowlitz and Lewis rivers will also close to salmon fishing March 1 to conserve spring chinook for hatchery escapement needs, but will remain open for hatchery steelhead retention. The Kalama River will remain open to fishing for salmon and steelhead, but the daily limit of adult salmon will be reduced to one fish on March 1.
  • Columbia River above Bonneville Dam: Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam will open to salmon fishing April 1 through May 5. Anglers may retain two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook.

In all open waters, only hatchery salmon and steelhead identified by a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained.

Along with new area restrictions in the lower Columbia, fishery managers also reduced initial harvest limits for upriver spring chinook returning to the upper Columbia and Snake rivers. If those fish return as projected, anglers in the Columbia and Snake rivers will be limited to a total of 4,548 fish, compared to 9,052 last year, prior to a run size updated in May.

Lothrop noted that this year’s projected return of 99,300 upriver spring chinook is the lowest since 2007, but still well above the record-low return of just 12,800 fish in 1995.

“Experience has shown that warm-water ocean conditions present a challenge to salmon survival,” he said. “As in the 1990s, we have observed that cyclical warming effect during the past few years with similar results. During these times, we have to be especially cautious in how we manage the fishery.”

Anglers are strongly advised to review the rules for the waters they plan to fish, available on the department’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/

WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish and wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

 


 

Anglers can keep hatchery sturgeon starting April 29th in the upper Columbia River

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OLYMPIA – Beginning April 29, recreational anglers will again have an opportunity to harvest hatchery sturgeon from Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs, state fishery managers announced today.

This is the third opening of the fishery in the upper Columbia River, said Chad Jackson, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Not only does this fishery provide a great opportunity for anglers but it’s also helping our efforts to recover white sturgeon populations by reducing their interactions with these hatchery fish,” Jackson said.

Several thousand juvenile sturgeon were released into the upper Columbia River in the early 2000s. Those fish have grown to harvestable size, prompting WDFW to open a fishery in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs.

WDFW is implementing a size restriction for this fishery that is designed to target hatchery-origin sturgeon, while protecting larger wild fish, Jackson said.

Between April 29 and Sept. 1, anglers will be allowed to retain two hatchery sturgeon daily that are between 38 and 72 inches (fork-length) in Wanapum and Priest Rapids reservoirs. Sturgeon caught in these reservoirs will not count toward an angler’s annual limit for sturgeon. Anglers will not be required to record sturgeon harvested from the two reservoirs on their catch record cards. 

Anglers may fish for sturgeon with two poles with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement.

More details about this fishery can be found on WDFW’s webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

 

 

WDFW Commission will hear comments on hunting seasons, Columbia River fisheries at Wenatchee meeting March 15th-17th


 

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on 2018-2020 hunting season proposals, Columbia River fisheries policy, and other issues during a public meeting March 15-17 in Wenatchee.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in the Wenatchee and Chelan rooms of the Red Lion Hotel, 1225 N. Wenatchee Ave., in Wenatchee.

The meeting begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 15, with Commission workshops that include no public input but are open to the public. Meetings scheduled Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 16, beginning at 8 a.m., with a review of hunting season proposals on Friday and Columbia River fisheries policy review on Saturday.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/

The hunting season-setting public process began last summer with surveys and meetings to develop proposals. They include:

  • Changes to Yakima and Colockum elk hunting permit allocations.
  • Adding unmanned aircraft (drones) to the list of prohibited hunting equipment.
  • Requiring black bear hunters to complete a bear-species identification test in areas with threatened grizzly bears.
  • Prohibiting night hunting of bobcats in areas with endangered lynx.

The commission will hear final public input at the March meeting, with decisions scheduled for the April meeting.

Last month the commission directed WDFW staff to review the Columbia River policy, adopted in 2013 in collaboration with Oregon to guide management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River. The policy is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river’s main channel.

The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of gillnet permits. The commission will be briefed, take public comment, and possibly make decisions at the March meeting.

The Commission will also hear public comment on proposed amendments to hydraulic project approval (HPA) rules on Saturday.

The Commission is set to make decisions on a proposal to require the use of LED fishing lights in the coastal commercial ocean pink shrimp trawl fishery and a permanent rule to clarify the limits of keeping salmon for personal use during an open commercial fishery.

The commission will also be briefed by WDFW staff on forest management in wildlife areas, 2018 federal Farm Bill reauthorization, and the department’s annual wolf report.

 

 


 

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 http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

 

 


 

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 http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/

 


 

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 Fishing Report – 06/02/2015


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06/02/2015 – J. W. Snyder – Fishing The Columbia 

 

Columbia River Fishing Report

 

Hanford Reach salmon fishery changes

Actions: 1) Implements a new salmon fishery management area in the Columbia River near the mouth of the Yakima River in the Tri-cities.

2) Implements protective salmon daily limits in the new management area, while providing more liberal daily limits in the remainder of the Hanford Reach upstream.

Effective date: June 16 through Aug. 15, 2015

Species affected: Chinook and sockeye salmon

Area 1: Columbia River from Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco to the Interstate 182 Bridge at Richland near Columbia Point (new Catch Record Card Code ?534?)

Daily Limit: Daily limit of three (3) salmon, of which no more than one (1) may be adult hatchery chinook and no more than two (2) may be sockeye. Release wild adult chinook.

Area 2: Columbia River from the Interstate 182 Bridge at Richland near Columbia Point to Priest Rapids Dam. (CRC 535, 536)

Daily Limit: Daily limit of eight (8) salmon, of which no more than two (2) may be adult hatchery chinook and no more than six (6) 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). Anglers may fish with two poles with the Two-Pole Endorsement, except for sturgeon.

Reason for action: WDFW is creating a new salmon fishery management area near the mouth of the Yakima River to manage fishing effort, harvest and provide protective daily limits in this short, six-mile river section.

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 2015-16 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.

 

This concludes our 2015 Columbia River Fishing Report