Washington Fish and Wildlife is out with news on fishing in the local area, starting with the seasons for Spring Chinook and White Sturgeon seasons on the Lower Columbia River. The Spring Chinook season starts on March 1st, and is scheduled to run through April 7th. Below Bonneville Dam, anglers will be allowed to keep one adult hatchery-reared salmon per day. Barbless hooks will be required, and all fish with an “unclipped” adipose fin will need to be released. Fishery managers are predicting a “great” season this year, with projections of 308,000 returning Spring Chinook this year. That compares to just 123,000 salmon last year. This year’s quota is put at 12,400 fish. The fishery will be reassessed in April, to see if fishing will be allowed into May.
The Kalama and Lewis Rivers will close to Spring Chinook retention on February 17th. Washington Fish and Wildlife says that this year’s projected return on each river is just slightly over the number needed to meet hatchery escapement goals, so both rivers will be closed to keeping Spring Chinook. Steelhead fishing opportunities will continue on both rivers. The main-stem Lewis and the North Fork Lewis to Johnson Creek will remain open to hatchery steelhead fishing; the lower Kalama River will also be open for hatchery steelhead fishing.
A White Sturgeon fishery opens this Saturday in the Bonneville Pool, and will run until February 17th, or until 300 to 350 legal sturgeon are caught. Only fish between 38 and 54 inches are legal for retention; fishery managers say that this is an opportunity for anglers to catch fish left over from the winter season. Waters below Bonneville Dam remain closed to sturgeon retention until further notice. Go to the Fish and Wildlife website or contact your local outfitter for full details on these updated regulations.