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Spring chinook fishing to reopen on lower Columbia

Fishermen attempt to net a fighting spring chinook on the lower Columbia River in early April during the first surge of the 2014 run. (Rich Landers)
Fishermen attempt to net a fighting spring chinook on the lower Columbia River in early April during the first surge of the 2014 run. (Rich Landers)

UPDATED 5:20 p.m. with more information from WDFW.

FISHING -- Spring chinook will reopen Friday, May 9, through Saturday, May 10, on the Lower Columbia River from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Rooster Rock, plus bank-angling only from Rooster Rock to Bonneville Dam. Shad fishing also will be open.

Spring chinook surged into the Columbia and over Bonneville Dam last week with one daily count topping 17,000 fish, giving fish managers the go-ahead for more lower Columbia fishing. 

  • Bonneville Dam passage through May 5 totals 119,758 adult chinook.  Based on the 10-year average the 50% passage date is May 7, ranging from April 27 to May 12.  

​Current Columbia River regulations for salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon can be found at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sport Fishing Regulation Update page.

Click "continued reading" for more details from WDFW media releases.

From WDFW Media release issued after 5 p.m. today, May 6.

The sportfishing season for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River will reopen for two days this week under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

Under that agreement, anglers can catch and keep one marked, hatchery chinook salmon Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, as part of their daily catch limit from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Rooster Rock.

Bank anglers, but not boat anglers, can also fish farther upriver to the deadline below Bonneville Dam.

The adult catch limit also includes up to two marked adult steelhead or a combination of one steelhead and one marked chinook. Only hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fin may be retained.

Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said representatives of the two states will meet again early next week to determine whether to allow any additional days of fishing.

That decision will be based on periodic updates of the number of spring chinook crossing Bonneville Dam, he said

“We’re taking this a couple of days at a time,” Roler said. “We want to give anglers as many days on the water as we can without exceeding the catch guidelines.”

The two-day opening approved for the lower Columbia River does not affect the chinook season in waters stretching 159 miles upriver from Bonneville Dam, currently open through Friday, May 9. By then, catch levels established under the current minimum run update are expected to exceed the guideline for that area by about 180 fish, Roler said.

However, all catch projections remain below wild chinook conservation limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act, he said. 

“We weren’t going to close that fishery early over 180 fish based on a preliminary minimum run update, but this was not the time to extend it, either,” Roler said. “Catch guidelines change along with the latest run forecast, and we expect to have another run-size update next week." 

Salmon, steelhead and shad report

Salmonid angling was fair to excellent last week in The Dalles and John Day pools. In The Dalles Pool, bank anglers averaged 0.33 spring Chinook caught per bank rod, while the boat anglers averaged 1.2 spring Chinook caught per boat.  In the John Day Pool, bank anglers averaged 0.19 spring Chinook caught per bank rod, while boat anglers averaged 0.48 spring Chinook caught per boat.  As of Sunday May 4, 109,573 spring Chinook have passed over Bonneville Dam.

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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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