States close Chinook season below Bonneville Dam
CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Fisheries managers from Oregon and Washington today announced that recreational Chinook salmon retention in the Columbia River between Warrior Rock and Bonneville Dam will close effective Friday, Sept. 6 at 12:01 a.m., three days earlier than originally scheduled.
The states decided to close the fishery early after reviewing harvest data that indicated recreational fishermen in this river section have already surpassed their preseason Chinook salmon harvest guideline by approximately 40 percent. Other sections of the lower Columbia River closed to Chinook retention in August to help prevent recreational fisheries from exceeding their allocation of upriver bright fall Chinook.
Columbia River salmon harvests are subject to treaties and federal conservation mandates such as the Endangered Species Act that place limits on the number of fish that can be harvested.
For 2019, upriver bright fall Chinook, which include ESA-listed Snake River fish, are the most constraining Chinook stock, The states took a precautionary approach to planning 2019 fisheries as a result of exceeding take limits in recent years.
“Clearly, we need to close the season as soon as possible,” said Tucker Jones, ODFW’s manager of ocean salmon and Columbia River fisheries.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and if there is any indication that we have room to catch more fish, we’ll take action,” he added, referring to ongoing monitoring of the upriver bright run size that can affect harvest guidelines.
In the meantime, coho salmon returns appear to be strong and offer potential for additional recreational fishing opportunity, especially at Buoy 10, according to Jones.
Retention of adult hatchery coho is currently open from Buoy 10 to McNary Dam, with a bag limit of two fish per day. The recreational coho season is scheduled to continue through the end of the year.
In addition, Chinook retention remains open between Bonneville and McNary dams. The fishery will be managed based on actual catches and upriver bright run size.
Steelhead retention is currently closed through September in the Columbia from the mouth of the river at Buoy 10 upstream to McNary Dam, a measure the states adopted and subsequently expanded earlier this year to help reduce impacts to upriver steelhead, which are returning to the river in smaller numbers than expected.