Fishery managers are predicting a big run when the Fall Chinook Salmon fishery opens on the Columbia River on August 1st. Washington Fish and Wildlife says that approximately 960,000 Fall Chinook are expected, well above the 10-year average for the Columbia. WDFW says that there are some new regulations that anglers need to be aware of. Because of low projections on wild steelhead returns, anglers will be allowed only one hatchery steelhead below Bonneville Dam. This restriction will be extended to McNary Dam on September 1, and up to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco on November 1.
It’s estimated that nearly 48,500 fish will be caught in the wildly popular Buoy 10 fishery, which will open on Monday and should run through Labor Day. In the Buoy 10 area, anglers will be required to release wild Chinook on Sundays and Mondays, to meet Federal conservation guidelines under the Endangered Species Act.
Anglers will be allowed to keep Chinook that have either a clipped adipose fin or a clipped left ventral fin, a rule that will go through December 1st, covering the river from Buoy 10 to Bonneville Dam.
The Coho limit is also being dramatically reduced; previously, anglers were allowed to keep up to six hatchery fish, but that limit is being dropped to two fish, as run projections for Coho are down some 27 percent. This new rule affects the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Toutle and other local streams.
For the first time, anglers will also be allowed to keep hatchery Chinook and Coho during designated steelhead seasons on smaller Columbia River tributaries, an effort to keep stray hatchery fish from native spawning grounds.
Get full information on individual rivers and streams by picking up a copy of the 2016-2017 sportfishing regulations, available wherever you get your fishing license.