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Spring chinook fishing closes today on Icicle River

FISHING — The Icicle River's fishing season for spring chinook salmon closes today an hour after sunset.  

Read on for the details pertaining the closure of the Chelan County fishery from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Lake Roosevelt rising; nearing full pool

RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt rose to an elevation of more than 1286 feet today and lake levels are expected to continue slowly rising over the next week into the 1288-1289 feet range by June 22.  Full pool is 1290 feet.

High levels at Lake Roosevelt reduce the beach area available for camping and picnicking. Levels drop in August for hydropower needs and providing flows for Columbia River salmon. This exposes more beaches making August prime time for campers on the 145-mile-long lake.

Dworshak Reservoir is at full pool. In this case, it provides the best access of the year to the mini-camps the Corps of Engineers has built along the rervoir near Orofino, Idaho.

Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Washington opening chinook fishing in 3 Snake River stretches

FISHING — Three sections of the Snake River will reopen to fishing for hatchery spring chinook salmon, beginning with a stretch of the river near Clarkston later this week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today. 
The Clarkston section of the river will be open Friday and Saturday each week beginning June 14-15.  
The two other sections of the river that will reopen to spring chinook salmon fishing include a section below Ice Harbor Dam that will be open Monday of each week beginning June 17, and a section near Little Goose Dam that will be open Tuesday of each week beginning June 18. 
All three sections will be open on their weekly schedule until further notice.
Read on for all the details.

Idaho approves spring chinook fishing on South Fork Salmon

FISHING — Chinook salmon fishing on the South Fork Salmon River will open July 5 under a season adopted this morning by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Fishing will be open only Fridays, Saturday and Sundays until further notice. Managers anticipate a shorter fishery on the South Fork because fewer fish are returning to Idaho than in recent years.

The South Fork will be open from the bridge on Forest Service Road 48 (Lick Creek/ East Fork South Fork Road) where it crosses the South Fork Salmon River main stem just upstream of the confluence with the East Fork South Fork Salmon River, upstream about 35 river miles to a posted boundary about 100 yards downstream from the Idaho Fish and Game South Fork Salmon River weir and trap.

Fishing hours will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.

The daily bag limit will be four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults; the possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, only six of which may be adults.

Adult Chinook salmon are 24 or more inches in length, and jacks are less than 24 inches in length. Only adipose-fin-clipped salmon may be kept.

The season-statewide limit is 10 adult Chinook salmon during salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2013.

Spring chinook fishing may reopen in Snake, WDFW bio says

FISHING — Snake River spring chinook fishing is likely to reopen says Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish management biologist

Look for an official announcement today or tomorrow — and expect the fishing days to be different that in the original season.

Here's Mendel's update:

The Technical Advisory Committee updated the run size to 115,000 (from 107,500 when the Snake R fishery previously closed at Clarkston).   The increased run size means there are a few more spring Chinook (~70) that can be harvested in the revised allotment for the Snake River. 

A fishery proposal has been submitted for the Clarkston area to reopen for two days (this Friday and Saturday).  Ice Harbor would open for one day next week (on Monday), and Little Goose on Tuesday.  Mid next week, we would evaluate the results from those limited fisheries and determine whether they had to close, or whether they could continue on the same days as noted above the following week.  Bag limits would be as they were in May (1 adult adipose clipped, and 4 adipose clipped jacks).  Once the hatchery adult salmon has been retained the angler must stop fishing for salmon, regardless of whether any jacks have been kept.

Please watch for the emergency regulation and news release that announces the opening of these fisheries.  Hopefully, those will be available late today or tomorrow. 

Upper Klickitat opening to spring chinook fishing

FISHING — Spring chinook action is luring anglers to the Klickitat.  Here the WDFW announcement many have been waiting for.

Upper Klickitat River to open for hatchery adult spring chinook

Action: Up to two hatchery adult spring chinook may be kept as part of the salmon daily limit on the Klickitat River upstream to boundary markers below the salmon hatchery.  

Effective dates: June 13 through July 31, 2013.

Species affected: Chinook.

Location: The Klickitat River from 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway (located about one-half mile upstream from the Fisher Hill Bridge) to boundary markers below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.

Reasons for action: As of June 10, a total of 351 adult spring chinook have returned to the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery.  The Klickitat Salmon Hatchery is expected to meet its escapement goal of 500 fish, which will allow additional recreational opportunity.    

Other information: Daily limit 6 salmon of which no more than two may be adults.  Wild chinook must be released.   This will match rules already in effect below Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 2 miles upstream from the mouth). 

Anglers are reminded there are closed waters from Fisher Hill Bridge to 400 feet upstream from #5 fishway and from the boundary markers below Klickitat Salmon Hatchery to the boundary markers just upstream of the hatchery. The section upstream from the salmon hatchery remains closed to fishing for salmon.

A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement is required to participate in this fishery.  Barbless hooks are required to fish for salmon and steelhead.

Information contact:   (360) 696-6211.  For latest information press *1010.  

Lake Roosevelt levels continue rising, but more slowly

RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt had risen to elevation 1282 feet this morning and lake levels are expected to continue rising, but more slowly, over the next week into the 1283-1285 range by June 15.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Spring chinook fishing reopening above Bonneville Dam

FISHING —The sport fishery for hatchery spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam to the Washington/Oregon state line will reopen Saturday (June 8) under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

In addition, fishery managers also agreed to extend the current fishery for boat anglers fishing for salmon in the lower river up to the deadline below Bonneville Dam beginning June 8. That change removes a restriction on fishing for salmon from a boat from Beacon Rock upriver to Bonneville Dam. The lower river reopened to spring chinook fishing May 25.
 
 
Ron Roler, Columbia River policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said an updated run-size forecast indicates at least 115,000 upriver chinook are now expected to return to the Columbia River this year, up from the previous forecast of 107,500.
 
“The increase in the number of chinook salmon moving upriver allows us to make these changes,” said Roler. “These additional openings provide anglers an opportunity to fish for spring chinook from the mouth all the way upriver to the Washington/Oregon state line.”
 
Anglers fishing the Columbia River are allowed to retain one hatchery-raised adult chinook salmon per day as part of their daily catch limit. Barbless hooks are required, and anglers must release any chinook salmon not marked with a clipped adipose fin as a hatchery fish.
 
The Columbia River will be open for spring chinook fishing through June 15. Starting June 16, daily limits and fishing areas change on the Columbia River when the summer chinook fisherygets under way.
 
For details, check WDFW’s sportfishing pamphlet

Idaho reopening Little Salmon for spring chinook

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today voted to reopen the Little Salmon River to fishing for Chinook salmon effective Friday, June 7.

  • The Clearwater, North Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and South Fork Clearwater rivers are closed to Chinook salmon fishing, effective immediately.
The Little Salmon will open from a posted boundary about 50 yards upstream of the Little Salmon River mouth to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder Road.
 
The season is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until further notice. Fishing hours are from 5:05 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Mountain Standard Time.
 
The daily limit is four Chinook salmon, only two of which may be adults; the possession limit is 12 Chinook salmon, only six of which may be adults. The statewide season limit is 10 adult Chinook during any salmon seasons occurring before September 1, 2013.
 
Any adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon 24 or more inches in total length is an adult. Jacks are less than 24 inches in length. Only adipose-fin-clipped Chinook may be kept.
 
For details about open areas and limits in these fisheries see the Fish and Game website.

Extending spring chinook season priority in Idaho

FISHING — Here's the latest news for Idaho spring chinook anglers regarding the status of the season — just received via email from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:

The majority of anglers have repeatedly told us that the most important thing to them regarding the Chinook season is to extend the season as long as possible.  For this reason, we have decided to make some rules changes to the Chinook salmon rules on the Salmon River.  

Starting on Monday morning (June 3, 2013), between the Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek (Park Hole Area), no harvest of adults will be allowed.  You will still be allowed to harvest up to 4 Jacks (< 24 inches) daily in this reach of river. 

The area that will be closed to the harvest of adults includes the entire reach of the Salmon River from Time Zone Bridge to the posted sign at Shorts Creek.   This reach includes popular holes such as Race Creek, the Park Hole, the Post Office Hole, the Confluence, the Mill Hole, Shorts Creek and anything in between. 

Our hopes are that with these new rules we can extend the season for at least 2 more weekends.  Only time will tell just how long the season lasts. 

I know for some of you who like to fish the Park Hole area, you may not be happy with these changes.  Recognize, however, that with these rules it may provide a unique experience where you can fish in less crowded conditions in an area with high catch rates, and if you eventually want to catch an adult there are other areas you can go to fish. 

It is important to realize that if you catch one adult in another reach of river where adult harvest is allowed, you cannot have this fish in close possession and fish the Park Hole.    In other words, if you catch 1 adult (remember if you catch 2 adults you are done fishing for the day) and you want to fish the Park Hole do not bring that fish near the Park Hole where one could assume you caught it there.  Drop if off at camp, at your home, or someplace away from where you are fishing. 

The rules in all other areas in the Clearwater Region have not changed through this weekend.  

“There is no season limit on jacks,” he said.

Wash. on verge of closing Snake River chinook fishing

FISHING — Anglers picked up enough spring chinook from the Snake River sections open to fishing in Washington over the holiday to prompt the closing of the season, which could be announced soon.

Here's the message from Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife southeast fisheries biologist:

We saw more interest in fishing the Clarkston area than we had documented in any of the previous weeks, and they caught a few fish there.  This fishery remained open after the lower Snake River fisheries closed because they had not caught much earlier, they were cut off early last year so we wanted to improve the sharing of the fishing opportunities, and because there were only about 30 fish left to harvest.  One day of either of the lower Snake River fisheries would likely have harvested more than 30 fish in just one day of fishing. 

The total Snake River harvest brings us very close to our targeted harvest level, so we are recommending closure of the Snake River fishery at Clarkston.  Therefore, we expect that it will be closed for spring Chinook harvest until next year (about late April).  Watch for the emergency regulation that verifies closure of this fishery.

Note: Steelhead fishing on the Snake River starts June 16 this year, earlier for retention than in the past.

Spring chinook angling hot in Idaho

FISHING — Anglers had very good success rates for spring chinook in Idaho waters upstream from Lewiston last week with catch rates below 10/hrs a fish in the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake rivers. 

Check out the following detailed Clearwater Region salmon update for the week of May 20-27, by Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game's regional fisheries manager in Lewiston: 

First, the majority of Chinook destined for release sites in the Clearwater Region appear to have mostly passed over Lower Granite Dam.  Some Chinook are stuck behind a couple of the dams.  Once these fish figure their way out, Idaho's harvest shares should go up some, but not a lot.  We are estimating that our harvest share for the Clearwater River will end up around 600 fish.  

Clearwater River drainage (only the harvest of Jacks are allowed):  The most Jacks were harvested in the Clearwater River near Dworshak Hatchery although the best catch rates (3 hrs/fish) occurred near Kooskia Hatchery in the Middle Fork Clearwater River (a lot of adults were caught and released there). We are very close to our harvest share of adults in the Clearwater River.  We still have some harvest share remaining so the fishery will remain open with the same rules this coming weekend as we had last week.  (Open Friday – Monday; Jacks only; Jack limit 4; same areas open to fishing).  Harvest this coming weekend and how much the harvest share changes will dictate how long the season will remain open.  

Salmon River area fishing was very good as well last week.  Early in the week most fish were being harvested downstream of Time Zone Bridge; however, by the weekend fishing picked up considerably in Park Hole (between Time Zone Bridge and Shorts Creek).  People are now reporting that fishing is good in both the Park Hole and  Little Salmon River.  With good flow conditions and a bunch of adults reaching the Riggins area, I expect fishing to be excellent this week.  It would not be unexpected if over 1,000 adults were harvested this week.  The only thing I could see that would slow down the fishery is if it rained like crazy and muddied up the river. 

Now is the time to fish the Rapid River run.  Due to the expected high harvest, we are currently having discussions on how to prolong this fishery and make sure we don’t go over our harvest share in the future.

Hells Canyon fishery was also very good with catch rates running at 7 hrs/fish.   Our anticipated harvest share for this fishery is 336 fish, and last week we estimated we harvested 132 adults bringing the total adult harvest to 183 fish.  I expect another good week of fishing at Hells Canyon Dam.

Watch where you camp: Lake Roosevelt levels rising, rivers drop

 

RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt rose to an elevation of nearly 1,271 feet today and lake levels are expected to continue rising up to a foot a day over the next week into the 1,277 range by May 31.

Holiday weekend campers should prepare for water to rise along the lake shores.

Elsewhere in the region, the Coeur d'Alene and St. Joe rivers continue to drop after a short upward blip from the rain on Tuesday.

— Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

— Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

— Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Snake River chinook fishing should remain open for holiday

FISHING — Anglers should feel confident that the spring chinook season will remain open on the Clarkston designated area of the Snake River in Washington through the Memorial Day weekend, according to Glen Mendel, Fish and Wildlife's southeast Washington fisheries biologist.

Regarding yesterday's update on the fishery, he just released this clarification:

A clarification regarding the Clarkston fishery. After further internal discussions there are no efforts at this time to implement an emergency closure that I am aware of, so the fishery remains open until further notice as it was established earlier. I don’t anticipate any closure that will affect fishing there this Sunday and Monday, but always check the emergency regulations section of our agency website to make sure the situation has not changed.

Idaho clarifies Clearwater chinook season changes

FISHING — Here's an update to with more and clearer details regarding my earlier post on Idaho's decision to close fishing for adult spring chinook salmon in the Clearwater River.  This was just released from Idaho Fish and Game's Lewiston office.

Tuesday, May 21, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game closed the lower Clearwater River from the Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge in Lewiston to the Cherrylane Bridge to all salmon fishing.  The other sections of the Clearwater previously open to salmon fishing will remain open for harvest of jack salmon four days per week, Friday through Monday. 

Sections of the Clearwater River basin that remain open to jacks-only harvest include:

  • The mainstem Clearwater:  From Lenore Bridge to Greer Bridge
  • The North Fork Clearwater River:  From the mouth upstream to Dworshak Dam excluding the perimeter of the Dworshak National Hatchery at Ahsahka.  Fishing from any watercraft is prohibited.
  • The Middle Fork Clearwater:  From the mouth of the South Fork Clearwater River upstream to the confluence of the Lochsa and Selway rivers.
  • The South Fork Clearwater:  From its mouth upstream to the confluence of the American and Red rivers.

Anglers are not be allowed to retain adult Chinook salmon anywhere in the Clearwater basin, but can continue to retain four adipose fin-clipped  salmon less than 24 inches total length (jacks), per day.  Jack salmon count against the daily limit but need not be recorded on the salmon permit. There is no season limit for jacks.

Jacks are salmon that return after one year in the ocean.  They are relatively abundant this year, are not necessary in the brood stock and are all available for harvest.  Managers estimate that over 2000 jacks returning to hatcheries in the Clearwater River will be available for harvest by sport anglers.

Fishery managers had consistently predicted that a relatively small number of adult hatchery Chinook salmon would return to the Clearwater River in 2013 and that over 50 percent would be needed to fill the hatchery brood stock quota.  With the support of the public, managers structured a conservative fishery framework that allowed fishing four days per week with a daily limit of one adult Chinook salmon per day.  The hatchery fish available for harvest are shared with Tribal fishers, resulting in less than 25 percent of the hatchery adults available for the sport fishery.  Excellent fishing conditions and a pulse of fish moving through the lower Clearwater River resulted in the sport fishery achieving the harvest objective more quickly than expected.

Salmon fisheries on the Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers remain unchanged at this time.

  • See Idaho Fish and Game's updates on seasons and limits here.
  • See an interactive map of river segments open to Chinook fishing.

Spring chinook, steelhead fishing to reopen on lower Columbia River

 

FISHING — The sport fishery for hatchery spring chinook salmon and hatchery steelhead will reopen Saturday (May 25) on the lower Columbia River as fish mangers get a better bead on the run and more fish become available in the season quota.

The fishery is scheduled to run through June 15 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the river to the deadline below Bonneville Dam under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon. For boat anglers, the upriver boundary is Beacon Rock.

Anglers may retain one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.

Read on for more details.

Clearwater chinook fishing too hot; adult harvest curtailed

FISHING — Good conditions and a surge of fish into Idaho's Clearwater River provided excellent fishing for spring chinook over the weekend, as predicted.

But the turnout was so heavy and the fishing was so good, anglers virtually caught their entire meager allotment of this year's spotty run in one swoop.

Idaho Fish and Game has closed the river to fishing for adult spring chinook after anglers caught about 540 mature salmon over four days. The estimated season harvest share is about 640 fish.

The good news is that when the season on the Clearwater reopens on Friday (May 24) anglers will continue to have good fishing for a big run of about 4,000 jacks.

Read on for details and more explanation from Joe DuPont, IFG regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:

Lake Roosevelt levels spike higher, rivers dropping

RIVERS — The level of Lake Roosevelt rose to an elevation of about 1264 feet today and lake levels are expected to continue rising over the next week into the 1272-1276 range.

Lake inflows began increasing a week ago as the spring runoff began from the Columbia River's headwaters (see chart).

However, note that flows of southern tributaries were already subsiding. The Coeur d'Alene River has been dropping rapidly this week (see chart).

St. Joe River flows also are plummeting (see chart).

Get links to river flows in this region at The Spokesman-Review Outdoors topics page.

Get daily Lake Roosevelt level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Check out this NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Idaho expands chinook fishing on Clearwater

FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission today  (May 16) expanded Chinook salmon fishing to include additional reaches of the Clearwater main stem and South Fork Clearwater rivers.

The Clearwater River main stem is open from the Camas Prairie railroad bridge at Lewiston upstream to the Cherry Lane Bridge and from the Lenore Bridge upstream to the Highway 11 Greer Bridge. The South Fork Clearwater Riveris open from its mouth upstream to the confluence of the American and Red rivers.

Fish and Game asked commissioners to delay a decision on Chinook fisheries in the upper Salmon and South Fork Salmon rivers to early June when fish managers will have a better idea of how many fish are heading for those waters.

“The fishing should be good tomorrow (Friday) as the river is clearing, flows are dropping, and lots of fish are passing over Lower Granite Dam,” said Joe DuPont, IFG regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.   

Read on for details on all the areas open for spring chinook:

Decisions on spring chinook fishing coming today

FISHING — Washington and Oregon officials will meet today to consider reopening sport and commercial fishing for spring chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River.

The Columbia River Compact will begin at 11 a.m. to consider gillnet fishing between Bonneville Dam and the coast. A joint state sport hearing will follow the compact session.

The science is murky, the issues tricky and the user groups are diverse and eager to get their slice of the pie, however small it is this year.

Click “continue reading” for insight from Outdoor writer Allen Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian.

Roosevelt lake levels heading higher

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt was at an elevation of about 1254 feet today. Lake levels are expected to begin rising over the next week into the 1260 - 1265 range.

Inflows into the lake have begun to increase as the spring runoff is beginning.

The Bureau of Reclamation predicts the spring runoff to begin this weekend, and the weather forecast for a heat wave moving in seems to confirm that.

Until the runoff begins lake levels are expected remain fairly steady.

The drawdown is not nearly as severe as last year, as the chart shows.

Get daily lake level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Spring chinook anglers could find Clearwater holes crowded

FISHING — Getting the best spot on the most productive holes has often beena challenge and a cause to rise early for spring chinook anglers headed to Idaho's Clearwater River.

This year the competition for good fishing spots could be even more keen, says Eric Barker, outdoors editor for the Lewiston Tribune.

Read on for his detailed story about the spring chinook season that opened this weekend as springers are just beginning to surge from the Columbia toward Idaho waters.

  

Bassmaster ranks Lake CdA 11th among nation’s top bass fishing lakes

FISHING — Lake Coeur d'Alene is ranked the best Northwest bass fishing lake and No. 11 in the nation in the new Bassmasters magazine rankings of the top 100 bass fisheries in the United States.

  • The Columbia River was ranked No. 21 in the country.
  • Dworshak Reservoir ranked No. 26.
  • Lake Sammamish ranked No. 51.
  • Fort Peck, Mont. ranked No. 75.

No. 1 in Bassmasters 2013 rankings is Lake St. Clair, Michigan

Lake Roosevelt water levels continue to plunge

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt is at an elevation of about 1261.20 feet today, and it's continuing a steady downward trend — dropping about a foot a day now — to make room for spring runoff. 

The drawdown is not nearly as severe as last year, as the chart shows.

Grand Coulee Dam is being operated to reach the flood control elevation of 1255.5 - 1258.5 feet for later part of next week, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The level is likely to stay in that range until the spring runoff kicks in, which is forecast to be around the second week in May.

Get daily lake level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Barbless hook rule set to expand on Columbia

FISHING —  Starting May 1, anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries downstream from Chief Joseph Dam will be required to use barbless hooks.

This is just one of several new fishing rules adopted for 2013 by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The new barbless regulations expand a similar rule in effect on the stretch of the Columbia River that constitutes the border between Washington and Oregon.

The new rules extend the ban on barbed hooks another 250 miles upriver on the Columbia River and to dozens of its tributaries, including the Cowlitz, White Salmon, Klickitat, Snake, Yakima and Okanogan rivers. 

Anglers fishing those waters will still be allowed to use single, double-point or treble hooks, so long as the barbs have been filed off or pinched down.

Jim Scott, assistant director of the WDFW Fish Program, said the new rule will contribute to ongoing efforts to minimize impacts on wild stocks while maintaining opportunities for anglers to harvest abundant hatchery fish.

“Anyone who’s ever fished with barbless hooks knows they are easier to remove from a fish’s mouth than a barbed hook,” Scott said. “That’s important in fisheries where anglers are required to release wild fish unharmed.”

Fishing regulations requiring the release of wild salmon and steelhead are common in the Columbia River Basin and other Washington waters, especially in areas wild salmon and steelhead are protected by state and federal laws. In those cases, only hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.

“Anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound and ocean waters have been required to use barbless hooks for years,” Scott said. “The new rule on the Columbia River is consistent with our state’s longstanding commitment to sustainable fisheries.”

Waters where the new rules apply are marked in WDFW’s 2013-14 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, now posted online.

The paper version of the pamphlet will be distributed to recreational license dealers around the state by early May.

Spring drawdown begins at Lake Roosevelt

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt is about 1274 feet today, and it's begun a steady downward trend to make room for spring runoff.  But Columbia River dam operators don't expect the drawdown to be nearly as severe as in recent years, having less impact on boaters and anglers.

Grand Coulee Dam is being operated to reach the flood control elevation of 1258.5 at the end of the month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

Lake levels are expected to decrease 1 to 1.5 feet a day and spill over the drumgates will be intermittent through the rest of the month in order to reach the flood control elevation target.

Get daily lake level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Salmon fishing seminar tonight at Mark’s Marine

FISHING — Mike Cordon of the Adventure Guide Service and Benita Galland will present a free salmon fishing program tonight, 6:30 p.m. for the latest in this year's seminar series at Mark’s Marine, 14355 N. Government Way in Hayden.

The seminar will focus on techniques and their favorite fishing spots and seasons on Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Columbia River system.

The last scheduled seminar at Mark's Marine is April 11, the annual Electronics Seminar presented by Mike Pentony, the Lowrance west coast pro staffer.

East siders wary of extending spring chinook fishing in Lower Columbia

FISHING — Spring chinook anglers in the lower Columbia River are getting an additional six days of fishing.

Low harvest levels ran well below expectations in March, prompting Oregon and Washington to extend the initial  recreational fishing season through April 12.  Originally, it was set to close, previously set to close April 5.
 
Fishing success picked up on Wednesday.
 
Through March, anglers had caught just 1,500 adult spring chinook salmon, about 25 percent of the 6,100-fish harvest expected by this point in fishery, said Ron Roler, Washington Fish and Wildlife's Columbia River policy coordinator.
 
“The season definitely got off to a slow start, but the bulk of the run is starting to move in,” Roler said. “River conditions are excellent – low and warm – so we will be monitoring the fishery closely to make sure the catch doesn’t exceed the established guideline.”
 
Allen Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian caught two East Side salmon spokesman for comments from an upstream perspective:
  • Idaho Fish and Game fisheries manager Pete Hassemer suggested that Oregon and Washington close fishing on a couple of days next week to lessen the harvest on the earliest-returning spring chinook, which largely are headed to Idaho.
  • Tri-State Steelheaders spokesman Mike Bireley in Walla Walla urged sport fishing in the lower Columbia be limited to three days per week until 10 percent of the projected upper Columbia-Snake run has crossed Bonneville Dam.
Guy Norman, WDFW regional director in Vancouver, cautioned that sport catches can skyrocket in April if the fish arrive.
 
“River conditions are very good for catching spring chinook salmon,'' Norman said. “I want to be sure we're on top of this.''
 
After three years of strong spring chinook returns, this year’s fishery is based on a projected run of 141,400 upriver fish, about 25 percent below the 10-year average. By comparison, approximately 203,000 fish destined for areas above Bonneville Dam returned to the Columbia River last year. Another 67,600 are predicted to return this year to the Willamette and other lower Columbia tributaries.

Under the plethora of state, federal and tribal management agreements, sportsmen in the lower Columbia are allocated 4,900 of those upper Columbia chinook before mid-May. About 1,570 of those 4,900 are projected to be caught through Friday and 3,652 chinook through April 12.

Washington and Oregon officials say they may meet on April 10 to review sport catches from the lower Columbia. Norman said he also wants the states to track the catch and be ready by Monday or Tuesday if an early closure is warranted.

State officials will meet at 2 p.m. Monday to consider commercial fishing on Tuesday in the lower Columbia.
 

Lake Roosevelt near summer level for weekend

BOATING — The level of Lake Roosevelt was at at the summer-like elevation of 1282.00  feet this morning, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expects the level to rise only slightly to1282.6 by Sunday.

The elevation likely will drop to about 1279.9 by April 10. Currently, Grand Coulee Dam is being operated to meet flood control elevations.

The current flood control elevations are as follows:

  • March 31 - 1282.6 feet
  • April 30 - 1265.1 feet

These elevations can and probably will change with the April water supply forecast scheduled for announcement the second week of April.

Get daily lake level forecast by phone, updated daily at 3 p.m: (800) 824-4916.

Better yet, check out this new NOAA site with Roosevelt levels and a list of boat launching elevations on the same page.

Salmon, steelhead issues topic of Tri-Cities meeting

FISHING – Washington fisheries managers will explain forecasts and rules for salmon and steelhead fishing in the Columbia Basin in a public meeting Wednesday (March 27), 5 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Benton PUD building, 2721 W. 10th Ave. in Kennewick.

Discussion topics will range from new barbless hook requirements to pre-season forecasts, including those for salmon and steelhead upstream of McNary Dam.

This season, salmon and steelhead anglers are required to use barbless hooks on the mainstem Columbia River downstream of the Washington-Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. The rule is likely to be applied to the entire Columbia and its tributaries.

The meeting is part of the salmon season-setting process known as North of Falcon, which involves representatives from federal, state and tribal governments and recreational and commercial fishing industries. Final salmon fishing seasons will be adopted in early April at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland.