The first fish arrived Wednesday for a spring chinook season that opened Saturday on portions of the Yakima River. A good run of salmon progressing up the Columbia system should provide a treat to Yakima anglers this month.
Fishing for hatchery chinooks is allowed on the river from Union Gap to the railroad bridge about 500 feet below Roza Dam and the 13 1/2 -mile stretch from the Interstate 82 bridge at Richland to the closed-water line 400 feet below Horn Rapids Dam.
The current forecast for the Yakima calls for 16,570 spring chinook, 72 percent of which is expected to be of hatchery origin.
“We haven’t had this many hatchery fish projected to return, relative to the number of wild chinook,” said John Easterbrooks, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Yakima.
“We want people to harvest a bunch of hatchery fish. Even if we catch a lot of these, there will still be many more hatchery than wild fish on the spawning grounds of the upper river this year.”
Last year’s Yakima fishery didn’t open until May 16, largely because of a very late-arriving run. “This year the run is a little earlier,” Easterbrooks said.
Anglers had little success last year in the lower stretch of the river below Horn Rapids, something fish managers attributed at least in part to high runoff and the resulting poor fishing conditions.
“This year, with less runoff, it may be better. We’ll see,” Easterbrooks said.