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Friday, August 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Columbia Tribes selling salmon along river

Columbia River tribal fishermen net salmon for personal use and for sale. (Columbia River Treaty Tribes)
Columbia River tribal fishermen net salmon for personal use and for sale. (Columbia River Treaty Tribes)

COMMERCIAL FISHING -- If you don't have a way to catch your own salmon with hook and line, the Columbia River Treaty Tribes are out to fill the voide.

Members of the Warm Springs, Umatilla, Yakama, and Nez Perce tribes have begun their summer commercial fishery and direct-to-public sales.  The commercial sales of fresh, locally caught summer chinook, sockeye and steelhead opened at 6 a.m. today and will run until further notice.

Tribal commercial fishermen sell their catch at various locations along the Columbia River including Marine Park at Cascade Locks, Lone Pine at The Dalles, and the boat launch near Roosevelt, Wash.

“We are seeing record returns of sockeye to the Columbia Basin and the tribes are able to provide this top-quality product while they support their families and local economies,” said Paul Lumley, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. 

Forecasts for a record return of sockeye are in the process of being fulfilled as a one-day record 15,633 "reds"  crossed Bonneville Dam yesterday.

Fish managers have forecast a run of 460,000 sockeye, the largest return since 1938 when Bonneville Dam was constructed.

Tribal fishers expect to harvest just more than 32,000 sockeye.

Read on for more details on the sockeye  as well as the summer chinook fishery.

The majority returning sockeye is destined for the Okanagan River and upper Columbia while smaller numbers will return to the Wenatchee River. Passage improvements and tribal reintroduction programs on the Yakama and Deschutes should yield higher returns.

While Snake River sockeye remain listed under the Endangered Species Act, their numbers are increasing and comprise a very small portion of the tribal harvest, officials say.

Summer chinook also are making their way upstream. Historically called “June Hogs” because of their large size, summer chinook are not listed under the Endangered Species Act. The current forecast of 91,200 will allow Indian fishers to harvest approximately 27,000 summer chinook, most of which will be sold commercially.

The tribal fishery is protected under 1855 treaties with the federal government.

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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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