Outdoors

Much of Columbia River closing to salmon, steelhead fishing

FILE - In this June 27, 2012, file photo, a Chinook salmon, second from the bottom, swims in the Columbia River with sockeye salmon at the Bonneville Dam fish-counting window near North Bonneville, Wash. With dismal numbers of fall Chinook returning to Bonneville Dam the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will close salmon fishing on much of the Columbia River. (Rick Bowmer / AP)

With dismal numbers of fall Chinook returning to Bonneville Dam, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will close salmon fishing on much of the Columbia River.

Starting Thursday salmon fishing on the mainstem of the Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to Highway 395 in Pasco will close, according to a WDFW news release.

The closure comes as the fall Chinook count at Bonneville Dam hovers around 29 percent below the preseason forecast. Fisheries are approaching the allowable catch limit as outlined under the Endangered Species Act, according to the release.

The full news release is copied below:

Most of the Columbia River closing to salmon and steelhead fishing

OLYMPIA – Starting Thursday (Sept. 13), fishing for salmon will be closed on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to Hwy 395 in Pasco under new rules approved today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon

Deep River in Washington and other tributaries in Oregon (Youngs Bay, Tongue Point/South Channel, Blind Slough and Knappa Slough) are also closed to salmon and steelhead angling.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) already prohibited steelhead retention in much of the same area of the Columbia River several weeks ago, and the new emergency rule closes angling for both salmon and steelhead in those waters as well.

Bill Tweit, Columbia River fishery coordinator for WDFW, said the counts of fall chinook at Bonneville Dam are 29 percent below preseason forecasts, and on-going fisheries are approaching the allowable catch limits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“We recognize that this closure is difficult for anglers, but we have an obligation to meet our ESA goals so that fisheries can continue in the future,” he said.

Tweit said the upriver fall chinook run provides the bulk of the harvest opportunity for fall fisheries, but that returns in recent years has been declining due to unfavorable ocean conditions. The preseason forecast for this year is 47 percent of the 10-year average return of upriver bright fall chinook.