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Tuesday, November 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Columbia River closed to salmon and steelhead fishing

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 27, 2019

In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, brothers Judah, left, and Harrison Ellis watch salmon swim past viewing windows at a fish ladder where salt water transitions to fresh at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
In this photo taken Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, brothers Judah, left, and Harrison Ellis watch salmon swim past viewing windows at a fish ladder where salt water transitions to fresh at the Ballard Locks in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
Associated Press

Most of the Columbia River will close to all recreational salmon and steelhead fishing, with the exception of the Hanford Reach.

The closure went into effect Thursday.

Bill Tweit, special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, says it comes at the tail end of a challenging year on the Columbia that saw low returns for many salmon and steelhead runs. Through Sept. 24 the steelhead return is the fourth-lowest since 1962, according to a news release.

Last year WDFW also closed the Columbia River to salmon fishing, citing bad runs. At that time, Tweit predicted that 2019 might be “kind of tough.”

“In my memory, we haven’t had a closure of this magnitude in a long time,” Tweit said in 2018. “It’s taking the heart out of the season and really, really restricting access to Coho coming in afterward.”

The commercial harvest on the Columbia River will have to be reduced by fishery managers in Washington and Oregon to account for the number of upriver bright Chinook caught during the fall season.

The closure announced this week extends upstream to Highway 395 in Pasco, excluding Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River for coho retention.

Eli Francovich contributed to this report.

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