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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

Snake spring chinook fishing decent; seasons iffy

SALMON -- Fishing for spring chinook on the selected open stretches of the Snake River in Washington was good this week, except that Monday afternoon the weather changed and blew a lot of folks off the water, reports Glen Mendel, state Snake River fisheries biologist.

Anglers must check the rules carefully and stay tuned.

The Snake River has taken most of its harvest allocation, Mendel said in an email a few minutes ago.

The lower two zones (Ice Harbor and Little Goose) of the Snake River will close, so they will NOT be open during the next Friday and Saturday or Sunday and Monday (May 17 & 18, and 19 & 20). 

The Clarkston area will remain open for another two day period on May 19 and 20, so they will have an opportunity to take the remaining salmon available in the Snake River allocation.

Department staff are in the process to get approval for the emergency closure regulation and provide a public announcement out within the next day or so.

 More from Mendel:

The Technical Advisory Committee met Monday morning and reduced the Columbia River upriver spring Chinook adult run prediction to 107,500 (down from 141,400 pre-season prediction).  They will meet again next Monday to look reconsider the run estimate. 

Now that the in-season run update has occurred, the remaining commercial and sport harvest that is available to the lower Columbia River under the original buffered run prediction can be taken.  Therefore, the area below Bonneville is proposed to reopen for harvest.  Those fisheries had closed in April below Bonneville, and early May (for zone 6 from Bonneville to the Oregon State line upstream of McNary Dam), and they had left part of their harvest allocations on the table to ensure that they did not affect the Snake River fisheries or overshoot their allocations if the run came in short of the 30% buffered run prediction. 

For example, below Bonneville sport had left nearly 30% of their harvest allocation untaken, so now they are going back to get that portion. 

Some anglers in the past have been upset that the Snake River closes and the lower river reopens, but each zone (below Bonneville, Bonneville to Oregon line, and the lower Snake River) of the mainstem Columbia River and lower Snake are allocated a certain percentage of the ESA impacts and harvest.  As long as the total non-tribal harvest or ESA impacts remain within the limits agreed to with other fishery managers for the determined run size, each zone is allowed to try to harvest their allocation, even if that means reopening after other areas have closed.

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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