Latest from The Spokesman-Review
FISHING — Prized spring chinook returning from the ocean to the Columbia River Basin are likely being killed by seals and sea lions between the estuary and Bonneville Dam in alarming numbers, according to research by NOAA Fisheries.
Although the findings are preliminary, the latest results of research that began in 2010 show a steady increase in fish mortality over a five-year period that may be attributable to seals and sea lions, according to a summary posted by John Harrison of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
- 2014 average spring chinook salmon survival was just 55 percent, down from 69 percent in 2013 and 82 percent in 2012.
If the 2014 estimate is representative of the run at large, this means approximately 45 percent of the 2014 spring Chinook run died somewhere between the mouth of the river and Bonneville Dam.
Here's more from the the NPCC summary:
“Even I have a hard time believing those numbers, but at least through 2013, estimates of fish mortality do fall within theoretical estimates of predation,” lead researcher Dr. Michelle Wargo-Rub of the Seattle-based Northwest Fisheries Science Center told the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee at its Tuesday, Nov. 4, meeting in Portland.
She said fish mortality, and the number of sea lions in the estuary, have increased dramatically in recent years. NOAA research focuses on spring Chinook because that is the time of year when the sea lion population is largest in the river.
Mostly males, the sea lions follow the spring-returning fish between March and May. Most of the sea lions then go to breeding grounds off southern California in the summer.
Dr. Wargo-Rub and her research team catch and tag salmon in the estuary near Astoria. More than 2,200 salmon have been tagged since the research project began, and of those about 68 percent were determined by genetic testing to be destined for the river and tributaries above Bonneville.
Survival varies over the course of the run, Dr. Wargo-Rub said. It appears that a higher proportion of early-migrating fish die before reaching Bonneville Dam than fish that migrate later in the spring. Early returning fish also take longer to reach the dam and so are exposed to potential predation for a longer time, she said.
Committee Chair Phil Rockefeller, a Washington member of the Council, said that even if the 2014 numbers are adjusted, “the trend is such that we have a growing predation problem.” He pointed out that the Council’s Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program calls on federal agencies to use their authorities to reduce predation losses caused by seals and sea lions.
Committee member Bill Booth of Idaho, who has had an interest in predation issues since he was appointed to the Council in 2007, said he found the NOAA research results “quite disturbing,” and added, “if predation is really 30-40 percent of the spring run over the last couple of years, and the region is directing more than half a billion dollars a year to fish and wildlife recovery, and nearly half of the spring run is being consumed by seals and sea lions, then we definitely have a problem.”
FISHING — The lower Grande Ronde River will re-open for an additional three days of fishing for spring chinook salmon Saturday through Monday from the Highway 129 Bridge upstream approximately 12 miles to the farthest upstream Oregon/Washington boundary line.
Last week the stretch was opened for a test fishery for the first time in 40 years. Fewer anglers than expected showed up, so Oregon and Washington decided to try again. There’s hatchery fish there and they want them caught!
Anglers will have a daily catch limit of SEVEN hatchery chinook salmon (marked by a clipped adipose fin), only TWO of which can be adult chinook. Anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery chinook salmon.
In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks no larger than 5/8 inch from point to shank. A night closure also is in effect.
Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit.
The Grande Ronde River fishery is co-managed by Washington and Oregon under concurrent fishing regulations.
- See all the regulations on WDFW’s fishing rule change webpage.
FISHING – Starting Friday (June 27), the lower Grande Ronde River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon for the first time in 40 years.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced that the river, from the Highway 129 Bridge upstream approximately 12 miles to the farthest upstream Oregon/Washington boundary line, will be open for spring chinook fishing through Monday (June 30).
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon are testing the feasibility of a spring chinook fishery in the lower Grande Ronde River to increase the harvest of hatchery fish destined for the Lostine River in Oregon, said John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) eastern region fish program manager.
The Grande Ronde River fishery is co-managed by Washington and Oregon, where a similar chinook season will open concurrently.
“This brief, four-day fishery will give us some indication of angler participation and the catch rates we would see with a fishery in the lower river,” Whalen said.
The season was rushed into play a as reserachers monitoring PIT-tagged fish movements upstream said the targeted fish are getting there and now’s the time, Whalen said.
Some specific regulations include:
- Anglers will have a daily catch limit of seven hatchery chinook salmon (adipose fin-clipped), only two of which can be adult chinook. Anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery chinook salmon.
- Anglers must use single point barbless hooks no larger than 5/8 inch from point to shank.
- Night fishing is prohibited.
- Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit.
Whalen said fishery managers were able to provide the brief opportunity after in-season projections indicated good returns of spring chinook salmon to the upper Grande Ronde River.
“We’re specifically targeting the Lostine chinook stock, which data shows tends to migrate through the river a month later than other chinook populations,” Whalen said. “By allowing this opportunity now, we can fish for these late-arriving chinook while avoiding the majority of fish from other stocks.”
FISHING — A new four-day spring chinook section on a stretch of the Grande Ronde River is likely to be opened starting Friday.
The official announcement and details are likely to be released Wednesday morning.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife didn't get all the permits in order today… but stay tuned. This is a new deal for anglers!
FISHING — Fishing for chinook salmon in the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa rivers will be closed at the end of fishing hours on Sunday (June 29).
This closure marks the end of the spring chinook fishery in the Clearwater Drainage. Since the season opened on April 26, anglers harvested more than 3,700 adult Chinook and more than 1,000 jack Chinook in the Clearwater drainage during the 2014 spring season.
- Little Salmon River will remain open for chinook salmon fishing at least through Friday (June 27). While many anglers are catching chinook on the Little Salmon, fishery managers believe the share set aside for sport anglers has not been completely harvested yet. Those managers will meet later this week to look at the most up to date numbers before deciding if the fishery can continue beyond Friday June 27.
UPDATED 1:55 p.m. with announcement of Sunday closings by Idaho fish and Game:
FISHING — Idaho’s spring chinook salmon fisheries on the lower Salmon River and the Clearwater River basins are almost history for 2014.
Idaho Fish and Game has just issued this announcement:
As harvest quotas of adult Chinook salmon will soon be achieved throughout the Clearwater drainage, harvest of adult Chinook in the entire Clearwater (including the Middle Fork, South Fork and Lochsa) will end on Sunday, June 22, 2014 at 9:15 Pacific Daylight Time.
Harvest of all Chinook salmon; including jacks, will be off-limits in the main stem Clearwater and the North Fork Clearwater after Sunday June 22. Closing these sections to all salmon fishing will eliminate mortalities among adult salmon hooked and released by anglers fishing for jack salmon.
Harvest of jack salmon (those under 24 inches) will continue to be allowed on the Middle Fork Clearwater, South Fork Clearwater and Lochsa River until further notice. Anglers may harvest up to 4 adipose-clipped Chinook salmon under 24 inches per day on those rivers. Any salmon 24 inches or longer must be immediately released. Anglers harvesting four jacks in a day or having 12 jacks in possession must discontinue fishing.
On the Salmon River:
"Fishing for both adult and jack spring chinook will close on two sections of the lower Salmon River at 9:15 p.m. Thursday," reports Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune. "The river will close to salmon fishing between Rice Creek and Time Zone bridges and from the mouth of Short’s Creek to the boat ramp at Vinegar Creek."
Fisheries managers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are closing the two stretches to make sure anglers don’t catch too many salmon destined for the upper Salmon River.
The river will remain open to chinook fishing between Time Zone Bridge and the mouth of Short’s Creek, often referred to as the Park Hole. The Little Salmon River will also remain open.
But fishing on those two stretches could close in the next few weeks. Last week, anglers caught nearly 1,400 adult chinook from the lower Salmon River and more than 1,500 from the Little Salmon River. So far this year, anglers have caught about 4,300 adult chinook from the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers, leaving about 2,500 on the state’s share of the Rapid River run, which is fewer than were caught last week.
"If harvest last week is any indication of what is going to happen this week, that should put us pretty close to our harvest share," said Don Whitney, a fisheries biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston.
Fish managers decided to close the Clearwater stretches after analyzing catch data. Anglers caught 419 adult chinook from the South Fork of the Clearwater, Middle Fork of the Clearwater and the Lochsa rivers last week.
FISHING — At the end of fishing hours on Thursday June 12, the fishing harvest season will close for adult Chinook Salmon (24 inches or longer) on the Clearwater River between the Orofino Bridge and the South Fork Clearwater.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department says the catch quota for the stretch has been met.
Starting on Friday, June 13, only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches) will be allowed on the Clearwater River downstream from the South Fork Clearwater River. Anglers may keep up to four adipose clipped jacks per day. Any salmon 24 inches or longer must be immediately released in this river section.
FISHING — Starting Friday (June 6), the Wenatchee River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon for the first time in nearly two decades, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has just announced.
With almost 10,000 hatchery chinook expected to return to the river this year, WDFW is opening two sections of the river:
- From the Washington State Parks foot bridge at Confluence Park (just upstream from the confluence with the Columbia River) to 400 feet below Dryden Dam.
- From the confluence with Peshastin Creek to the downstream side of the confluence with the Icicle River and from that point to a marker on the opposite shore.
The fishery will be open seven days a week in both areas until further notice.
Anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery spring chinook measuring at least 12 inches long and marked with a clipped adipose fin. Under statewide regulations, anglers may retain only one daily limit of salmon, regardless of how many waters they fish.
All wild chinook must immediately be released back into the water unharmed.
Jeff Korth, regional WDFW fishery manager, said this year’s fishery was made possible under a new permit issued by NOAA-Fisheries that allows the department to conduct mark-selective fisheries to reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.
“We are pleased that we’re able to provide this fishery, which will reduce excess hatchery fish while increasing fishing opportunities in the area,” Korth said. “We’ve done this successfully in other watersheds and now we’re bringing it to the Wenatchee River.”
Korth noted that WDFW will closely monitor the fishery and enforce fishing rules to ensure protection of wild chinook, bull trout and any steelhead that may be incidentally caught and released.
In addition to the mark-selective rules in effect for the fishery, anglers are required to:
- Retain any legal hatchery spring chinook they catch until they reach their daily limit, then stop fishing for spring chinook.
- Release any spring chinook with one or more round holes punched in the tail fin. These fish are vital to ongoing studies in the upper Wenatchee River Basin.
- Observe selective gear rules in effect on the Wenatchee River wherever chinook seasons are open. No gear restrictions are in effect on the Icicle River, and anglers may use bait on both rivers.
- Heed the prohibition of internal combustion motorized vessels and observe night closures on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.
To participate in this fishery, anglers must possess a valid 2014-15 fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement.
Because the fishery is open until further notice, anglers should check WDFW’s Fishing Rule Change website.
At the end of fishing hours on Friday, June 6, 2014, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will implement a closure to the harvest of adult Chinook Salmon (24 inches or greater) on the Clearwater River from Cherrylane Bridge upstream to Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.This closure is being implemented because the harvest quota for adult Chinook Salmon has been met in these sections of river. Harvest quotas for adult Chinook Salmon in different reaches within the Clearwater River drainage were developed using input from the public to help insure all communities in the watershed have opportunities to harvest salmon.Starting on Saturday June 7, 2014, only the harvest of adipose clipped Jacks (salmon less than 24 inches) with a daily limit of four (4) will be allowed downstream of Orofino Bridge and in the North Fork Clearwater River.Chinook Salmon rules in river reaches upstream of the Orofino Bridge will remain unchanged until further notice.
FISHING — "Fishing was exceptional in the Clearwater River drainage last week with catch rates less than 10 hrs/fish in many places and averaging 14 hrs/fish for the entire basin," says Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.
"Based on conversations with our creel personnel, it looks like the fishing is only improving this week," he said in an email a few minutes ago.
"We plan to check our harvest numbers Thursday (6/5/14) to evaluate if we need to make any closures. If harvest continues to remain high, adult harvest closures could occur in river Section 2 (main Clearwater from Cherrylane Bridge to Orofino Bridge) and Section 3 (North Fork) as soon as the end of fishing on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or possibly later."
A notice will be released on Thursday, he said.
"The other river reaches will remain open to adult harvest through the weekend and we will evaluate the data on Monday to determine how to proceed."
FISHING — Two sections of the Snake River (below Ice Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam) reopened to fishing for spring chinook on Sunday, June 1, while two other sections of the river (below Little Goose Dam and near Clarkston) will reopen Thursday, June 5.
The sections of the river below Ice Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam are open Sunday through Tuesday each week. The river below Little Goose Dam and in the Clarkston area will be open Thursday through Saturday each week.
All four sections will be open on their weekly schedule until further notice.
Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said fishery managers were able to reopen the fishery after transferring a portion of the upriver spring chinook allocation to the Snake River from the ongoing fishery in the lower Columbia River.
“With more than 600 fish now available for the Snake River fishery, we may be able to sustain fishing for the next several weeks,” said Mendel.
- Monitor changes posted on the agency's emergency fishing rules webpage.
Read on for details:
FISHING – If you haven’t been able to catch your own spring chinook in this year’s run, Columbia River tribes are selling them fresh from their nets this weekend for the first time in four years.
A two-night commercial gillnet fishery is tapping the largest run in four years.
Fish will be sold at locations along the Columbia, including Marine Park at Cascade Locks, Lone Pine at The Dalles, the boat launch near Roosevelt, Washington, and Columbia Point Marina in Richland.
Price is determined at the point of sale and sales are cash only.
FISHING – Spring chinook salmon fisheries on two sections of the Snake River will close for the season after four more days of fishing in each area, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.
Fishing for spring chinook in the Clarkston area continues today (May 22) and will close an hour past sunset on Sunday (May 25).
Below Lower Granite Dam, fishing for spring chinook will be open from Saturday (May 24) until an hour past sunset on Tuesday (May 27).
By then, the catch of spring chinook salmon is expected to reach the harvest allocation limit for the Snake River based on monitored harvest and the most recent estimate of the run size, said John Whalen, WDFW’s eastern region fish program manager.
“These closures will effectively mark the end of the fishing season for spring chinook on the Snake River,” Whalen said.
The section of the river set to close an hour past sunset May 25 is:
- Clarkston area: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line. (The state line extends from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
The section of the river set to close an hour past sunset May 27 is:
- Below Lower Granite Dam: Snake River from the Ilia Boat Launch on the south across to the mouth of Almota Creek upstream about four miles to the restricted fishing area below Lower Granite Dam.
Two other areas of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and Little Goose Dam closed for spring chinook fishing May 14.
When the fishery is open, anglers have a daily catch limit of one hatchery adult chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – and five hatchery jacks measuring less than 24 inches.
Barbless hooks are required, and anglers must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult chinook salmon. All chinook with an adipose fin, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.
For more details, check the rule change on WDFW’s website.
FISHING — The bad news is that Ice Harbor and Little Goose dam areas on the Snake River met were closed to fishing for spring chinook on Wednesday, with virtually no notice. Harvest quotas had been met.
The good news is that Lower Granite and Clarkston areas will remain open on their normally scheduled days of the week, plus they will get a weekend day bonus, each week. Lower Granite is open Saturday through Tuesday, and Clarkston is open Thursday through Sunday each week.
Check the emergency fishing regulation section of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website under Snake River.
In Idaho, harvest of adult chinook (24 inches or greater) will end at the close of fishing hours on Friday, May 16.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials just announced the closure to take effect on the Clearwater River from Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge in Lewiston upstream to Cherrylane Bridge.
Says Joe Dupont, IFG regional fisheries manager:
This closure is being implemented because the harvest quota for adult Chinook Salmon has been met in this section of river. As you may recall, our goal is to allow 25% of the adult harvest to occur in this reach of river. Harvest quotas for adult Chinook Salmon in different reaches within the Clearwater River drainage were developed using input from the public to help insure all communities in the watershed have opportunities to harvest salmon (refer to the map below for the different harvest quotas).
Anglers may continue to fish for adipose clipped Jack Chinook Salmon between Camas Prairie Railroad Bridge and Cherrylane Bridge. Jack salmon are defined at less than 24 inches in length. Any adult salmon (24 inches or longer) caught in this river section must be immediately released. Chinook Salmon seasons will remain unchanged upstream from the Cherry Lane Bridge.
FISHING — Starting Thursday, May 15, anglers will have another full month to catch hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon and steelhead on the lower Columbia River under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.
Fish managers have more confidence in the run after getting new projections this week. Changes, if any, in quotas for the Snake River portion of the run have not been announced, yet.
Under the agreement for the lower Columbia, anglers can catch and keep one marked, hatchery chinook salmon daily through June 15 as part of their catch limit from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Bonneville Dam.
In all, they may retain up to two adult salmon or steelhead – or one of each – but no more than one adult chinook salmon per day. Anglers must release all sockeye salmon and any wild salmon or wild steelhead, which can be identified by an intact adipose fin.
According to an updated run projection, 224,000 upriver spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year, said Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The pre-season projection anticipated a return of 227,000 upriver fish.
The new projection reflects greater confidence in the run since last week, when fishery managers projected a minimum return of 185,000 upriver fish this year, Roler said.
“We’ve taken a conservative approach to the season so far, but the count of spring chinook past Bonneville Dam indicates our pre-season projection was on target,” he said. “Under this extension, anglers should be able to keep fishing in the lower river right up to the start of the summer chinook season June 16.”
Anglers fishing the Columbia River below the dam caught 10,084 upriver spring chinook through May 10, when the previous two-day extension ended. The extension through mid-June is projected to boost the annual catch in those waters by 3,864, Roler said.
- For more information about the fishing extension approved today, see the Fishing Rule Notice on WDFW’s website.
FISHING — The upper section of the Yakima River will open for hatchery spring chinook fishing on Saturday, May 17.
With the spring chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River just getting under way, a section of the river farther upstream will open to fishing from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.
Spring chinook have been moving into the lower river in increasing numbers, and should provide fishing opportunities in the upper river when that area opens for fishing, said John Easterbrooks, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Read on for all the detail from the the WDFW:
FISHING — Now's the time to head to the Snake River for spring chinook.
Counts of chinook passing lower Snake River dams are on the rise and water conditions are more than respectable, according to a Lewiston Tribune update story by Eric Barker.
“Flows are also looking good, so those fish should spread upriver fast," Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said in my earlier blog post. Expect the fishing to really pick up from here on out,”
- That opinion was echoed for the Washington stretch of the Snake by Glen Mendell, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist.
Through Thursday, 35,894 spring chinook adults had passed over Ice Harbor Dam, the first on the Snake, and the fish are marching upstream:
- 28,824 over Lower Monumental Dam.
- 16,632 over Little Goose Dam.
- 13,383 over Lower Granite Dam, the last dam the fish negotiate before heading up the Snake River into Idaho bound for the Clearwater and Salmon rivers.
Read on for more details from Barker's story:
FISHING — Angling success for spring chinook picked up at Ice Harbor and Little Goose dams, the first fisheries the salmon encounter as they head up the Snake River. The big spike of springers over Bonneville Dam last week is entering the Snake system, with 8,200 coming over Ice Harbor on Wednesday, according to counts from the Fish Passage Center.
Glen Mendel, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist says the number of fish allotted for Snake River fishermen could go quickly if fish managers don't increase the quotas.
"No harvest has been documented at Clarkston area yet, but numbers of fish are just beginning to really pick up in that area and angler effort has therefore been light," Mendel said.
"The total Snake River harvest allotment based on the preseason prediction is 1,309 hatchery adults (904 prior to the preseason update, and 405 after), but by Tuesday next week, we may have an updated run prediction (that might be higher than originally predicted). We will all have to wait for that run prediction update to see how it affects the Snake River fisheries.
"We are predicting approximately 300 fish will be harvested at IHR during May 11-13, and approximately another 200 fish at LGO during the May 8-10 period, which could put us at nearly 1,000 adult salmon harvested in those two zones by the end of May 13.
"So, this is a heads up that we will be considering closing those areas, possibly sometime next week."
Any closure would be posted on the emergency fishing regulation section of the WDFW website at under Snake River.
FISHING — Big numbers of spring chinook are coming and river flows are ideal — that's a recipe for success in Idaho waters, says Joe Dupont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.
Although only 21 fish were estimated to have been harvested in the Clearwater drainage as of last week, Dupont points to dam counts indicating that the fishing will pick up — any day.
"Last week we had some exciting times when over a three day period over 40,000 chinook passed over Bonneville Dam," he said.
Since then the counts have dropped back down, but that spike in numbers caused the agency's projected non-tribal harvest share to increase to about 4,000 adult fish in the Clearwater drainage and about 6,3000 adult fish for the Rapid River run — up from earlier projections of 3,400 for the Clearwater drainage and 4,500 for the Rapid River run.
This share of fish is similar to what Idaho saw in the Clearwater River basin in 2008 and 2009-2012, Dupont said, but last year the harvest share in the Clearwater Basin dropped to only 640 fish.
"So this will be a marked improvement over that," Dupont said. "For the Rapid River run, last year the harvest share was 2,100 fish and the year before that it was 4,500 fish. As such this year will be an improvement over the previous two years. All in all, I think we are in store for a very good season.
"Counts over Lower Granite Dam the last couple days were around 1,300 and 3,000 fish which is good. Flows are also looking good, so those fish should spread upriver fast. Expect the fishing to really pick up from here on out."
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.
FISHING — With a big pulse of spring chinook headed upstream past Bonneville Dam, fish managers are expecting good things for upstream fishermen.
Weather was generally poor through the weekend and fishing has been slow in the Snake River since the season opened last week, with the fish being caught near Ice Harbor (first dam the hit in the Snake) and Little Goose dams. But Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist for the Snake, said it's time to get your salmon gear ready:
We have a very large pulse of fish passing Bonneville Dam (over 17,000 on one day on April 30) headed upstream, and we already have generally more than 1,000 per day passing Ice Harbor Dam. Counts at Little Goose are nearly 1,000 per day, and there are over 2,000 fish stacked up so far between Lower Monumental and Little Goose dams.
Lower Granite counts have been over 200 per day for a few days. The wind and rain are over for now, river flow levels are moderate, and fish numbers are good and getting better, so fishing conditions are looking good for the next several days or more.
FISHING — The first of the 2014 spring chinook fishing seasons on the Snake River opened Thursday and others open this week on other Washington stretches and into Idaho.
Nothing to get too worked up about YET… as Glen Mendell, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist points out in this report:
The chinook fishing season started 4/24 for the Little Goose and Clarkston areas (Thursday through Saturday each week); and the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite areas open on Sunday (Sunday through Tuesday each week).
Opening day on Thursday was windy and rainy with light fishing effort.
Fish counts are finally hitting over a hundred chinook per day at Little Goose, and over 200 per day at Ice Harbor, but only a few dozen fish per day at Lower Granite Dam.
A few hatchery chinook were caught and kept Thursday at Little Goose, but no harvest was documented at Clarkston.
A few things to note:
- The north shore just below Lower Granite Dam has a construction project so the US Army Corps has made this area off limits to the public (within the flagged or signed area), shoreline fishing is available downstream, plus along the south shore. The public can cross Lower Granite Dam seven days per week from 7 AM to 5 PM until Memorial weekend when the hours are extended to 7 PM.
- The gate at the wall area along the south shore at Little Goose closes at 5 pm, so the public must leave at that time (opens at 6 AM),
- The lower fishing boundary for Clarkston is the western power line crossing the Snake River near West Evans Road (not all the way down to West Evans Road).
- Please check the emergency fishing regulations posted at our agency website.
- Also note that once you keep your one adult hatchery Chinook salmon, you must stop fishing for salmon, even without having kept any of the daily limit of jacks.
- Also, you must release steelhead, bull trout, and trout caught in the Snake River.
The harvest target for the Snake River is 904 adult hatchery Chinook until the Columbia River run update in early May. If the run comes in as predicted another 405 hatchery adults will be available for harvest after the run update.
FISHING — Anglers will have one more day - Saturday (April 19) - to fish for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River prior to an updated assessment of the run size.
The chinook fishery will be open to boat and bank fishing from Buoy 10 upriver to Rooster Rock. Bank fishing will also be allowed from Rooster Rock upriver to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.
Anglers may retain one hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit. Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon approved the one-day extension after a week in which anglers caught 6,500 upriver spring chinook, boosting the total catch for the season in the lower Columbia River to 7,880 upriver fish
One more day of fishing is expected to bring the catch levels up to 95 percent of the initial harvest guideline of 10,157 fish, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
"Catch levels tend to skyrocket at this time of the year," Roler said. "As in years past, fishing started out slow this season, but you wouldn't know that by what we're seeing out there right now."
Prior to the start of this year's fishing season, fishery managers estimated that approximately 227,000 upriver spring chinook salmon would return to the Columbia River this year.
Anglers may get additional opportunities to catch spring chinook salmon later this spring, depending on how that estimate compares to the updated forecast planned in the next few weeks, Roler said.
"If the fish return at or above expectations, we will look at providing additional days of fishing on the river later this spring," he said.
The extended fishing season in the lower Columbia River does not affect the spring chinook season above Bonneville Dam, currently open through May 9 under regulations described on WDFW's website.
FISHING — Although fisheries officials aren't making a commitment until run size is confirmed, anglers made it clear Wednesday night that they want to be able to catch spring chinook in the Snake River when they move upstream past Clarkston this year.
Biologists listed to their desires and even pointed out the possibility of a short fishing opportunity in the Grande Ronde River.
Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune was at the meeting. Read on for his report:
FISHING — The fish are still on their way, but the Washington is announcing spring chinook and steelhead seasons on the Wind River, a popular Columbia River tributary. Here are details from the Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Action: The daily catch limit will be 2 chinook or 2 hatchery steelhead or one of each at various times and locations on the Wind River.
- Wind River from the mouth (boundary line markers) upstream to the
Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge: Open March 16 through July 31.
Anglers with a two-pole endorsement may fish with two poles for salmon
and steelhead May 1 through June 30.
- Wind River from Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge upstream to 400 feet
below Shipherd Falls: Open April 1 through July 31;
- Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to 800 yards downstream of
Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed waters from 400 feet below to
100 feet above coffer dam): Open May 1 through June 30.
Species affected: Chinook and steelhead
Other information: Release wild chinook downstream from Shipherd Falls. Release all trout other than hatchery steelhead. Minimum size 12 inches for salmon and 20 inches for steelhead.
When fishing for sturgeon or other species, only one pole per angler may be used.
The area from the railroad bridge upstream to Shipherd Falls will be closed to all fishing from March 16-31 to protect wild steelhead when salmon abundance is low.
Reason for action: The 2014 Wind River spring chinook returns are expected to be slightly higher than the recent 5 year average and more than twice last year’s actual return. Surplus hatchery origin fish are available for harvest.
FISHING — Here's the harbinger of what should be a better than average spring chinook fishing season in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
"First spring Chinook of the year returned to Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery yesterday!" says Joe Hymer, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon specialist in an email received moments ago.
FISHING — The chart above was just released by Columbia River fisheries managers. Get your tackle rigged.
FISHING — Here's the latest forecast for a niche of the Columbia River spring chinook run popular with anglers:
FISHING — The chart above, just released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, is an early forecast for spring and summer chinook returning to the Columbia River next year.
The numbers suggest that almost twice as many spring chinook will return to the system to delight anglers in 2014 while the numbers of summer chinook bound for the upper Columbia could be slightly down.
The numbers will be updated several times over the coming months.
FISHING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife commission has closed spring chinook salmon fishing on the Snake River. Here's the announcement posted this afternoon:
Action: Closes spring chinook fishing on the Snake River.
Effective date: Immediately
Species affected: Spring chinook
Near Ice Harbor Dam: Below Ice Harbor Dam from the Highway 12 bridge near Pasco upstream about seven miles to about 400 feet below Ice Harbor Dam.
Near Little Goose Dam: Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river approximately 3.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility.
Near Clarkston: From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Washington border and boundary water marker on the north shore.
Reason for action: Based on the declining spring chinook run, catch rates and cumulative season harvest estimates in the three fishery zones on the Snake River through this past Tuesday, and fishery ESA impact limitations, this fishery will close.