Chinook fishing shuts one day early on lower Columbia

Photo Credit: ODFW

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Spring Chinook fishing on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam will close one day earlier than anticipated under rules adopted today by the states of Oregon and Washington.

Higher than expected effort and catch rates since late March led fishery managers from the two states to close the popular salmon fishery in the lower section of the river, effective Friday, April 8 at 11:59 p.m. They also closed the river below Bonneville to steelhead and shad fishing to protect migrating salmon.

The action was taken after managers reviewed new harvest data that showed sport anglers reaching their spring guideline of 7,515 Chinook by the end of the day on Friday.

“I am very disappointed that we have to close this season early,” said Tucker Jones, ODFW’s Ocean Fisheries and Columbia River program manager. “If there is a silver lining, it is that a lot of people got out early and caught a lot of fish, and that our upriver fisheries are tracking as expected.”

Columbia River salmon seasons are all quota driven, meaning that when managers set harvest limits and season dates at the beginning of the year they can change depending on catch, effort and run size.

From Bonneville Dam upstream to the OR/WA border (upstream of McNary Dam), springer fishing remains open through May 6 or until the 1,000-Chinook harvest guideline for that section of the river is achieved.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor Chinook returns and update the upriver run estimate, which typically occurs in early May. If the upriver return is sufficient, additional fishing opportunity will be considered.

In the meantime, the lower Willamette River also remains open to retention of adipose fin-clipped adult Chinook salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead seven days a week.

In other business, fishery managers also set two sturgeon retention seasons in Bonneville Pool, from Bonneville Dam upriver to the sturgeon sanctuary 1.8 miles below The Dalles Dam. The first sturgeon retention date is Saturday, June 18. The second season is scheduled for Friday, July 1. Sturgeon must be 38 to 54 inches fork length to be retained.

Fishery managers said two retention days two weeks apart will provide meaningful opportunity while allowing biologists to monitor the fishery as it progresses and recommend changes if necessary.