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Columbia River Fishing Report 03-27-2018

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WDFW Fishing Rule Change

 

Steelhead daily limit increases on the Columbia River at the lower Hanford Reach, and Ringold bank fishery

 

Area 1: Columbia River from Hwy.395 Bridge at Pasco to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers:

Effective date: Immediately through March 31, 2018

Daily limit: Two (2) hatchery steelhead

 
Area 2: Ringold area bank fishery

Effective date: Immediately through April 15, 2018

Daily limit: Two (2) hatchery steelhead

 
Reason for action: The 2017-18 Hanford Reach steelhead fishery daily limit was reduced to one fish to ensure that the Ringold Springs Hatchery would meet the 2018 broodstock collection objective. That objective was achieved March 26, so the daily limit can be increased to two hatchery steelhead for the remainder of the season.
 
Other Information: The boat (and bank) fishery from the Hwy. 395 Bridge to the wooden powerline towers closes March 31. The “bank only” fishery adjacent to the Ringold Springs Hatchery and described on Page 54 in the 2017-18 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet continues through April 15.
 
WDFW Information contacts: Paul Hoffarth, District 4 Fish Biologist, (509) 545-2284 (Pasco) or John Easterbrooks, Regional Fish Program

 

 

 

 


 

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.

 

 


 

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

 

 

 


 

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 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 https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

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


 

WDFW FISHING RULE CHANGE

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:  http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php  

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 (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 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 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.