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It’s a record run! Sockeye limit upped to 6

Sockeye salmon spiked over Bonneville Dam on July 11, 2014 prompting fish managers to forecast a record ru n. (Fish Passage Center)
Sockeye salmon spiked over Bonneville Dam on July 11, 2014 prompting fish managers to forecast a record ru n. (Fish Passage Center)

FISHING -- A rocketing spike of sockeye salmon up the Columbia River set run records this week and prompted the Washington Department of Fish Wildlife to increase the daily limit of sockeye to SIX in the river upstream from Priest Rapids Dam (details below).

That big pulse of fish at Bonneville is on its way upstream to the popular upper Columbia fisheries -- where anglers already are socking it to the sockeyes -- from the Hanford Reach almost to Brewster.

Last week, fish managers raised their expectations from a run of around 340,000 to 425,000, calling the run the second largest since records have been kept.

This week, the joint federal-state-tribal Technical Advisory Council increased the forecast to a total of 526,367 sockeye over Bonneville -- a jump of 10,694 fish from the record run in 2012. 

And some are suggesting the number could go to more than 600,000 -- that's in the realm of colossal.

Fish counters tallied more than 34,000 sockeye up the Bonneville Dam fish ladders on on July 4 and again on July 5.  The numbers dropped significantly after that and will taper from there, fish managers said.

Anglers are getting to harvest the bounty. Today WDFW announced a sockeye fishing season starting immediately at Lake Osoyoos as well as an increased daily bag limit as follows:

Action: Anglers will be able to retain eight salmon, including up to six adult sockeye salmon, in the mainstem Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam.

Effective dates and locations: Mainstem Columbia River:

  1. From Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam, July 11-Aug. 31, 2014.
  2. From Wanapum Dam to Wells Dam, July 11-Oct. 15, 2014.
  3. From Wells Dam to Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster, July 16-Aug. 31, 2014.
  4. From Hwy 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, July 11-Oct 15, 2014.

Species affected: Sockeye salmon.

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Priest Rapids Dam are predicted to be far in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds.  The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches.  Daily limit eight salmon, up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to six may be sockeye.  Release coho and wild adult chinook.  Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached. 

Other information:  All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. 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 steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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