The Columbia River Compact on Thursday approved non-tribal fisheries, directed primarily at fall chinook salmon, that begin Aug. 5 in the lower river mainstem from Bonneville downstream 146 miles to the mouth of the river.
Anglers can again begin pursuit of chinook up and down the river as of Aug. 1 with the approach of the fall chinook run. The “summer” chinook season retention season ended at the beginning of July.
Overall a total of 654,900 adult fall chinook salmon are predicted to return to the mouth of the Columbia this year, including 353,000 “upriver” fish bound for the Snake River, mid-Columbia’s Hanford Reach and other spawning areas upstream of Bonneville.
Both the overall prediction and that for the upriver fish are greater than the 10-year average. A total of 620,600 fall chinook returned to the mouth of the river last year.
The Compact’s approvals this week sets up seven nine-hour non-tribal commercial fisheries. The first, scheduled overnight Aug. 5-6, allows fisheries from the mouth upstream to just below Bonneville. The other six, beginning the evenings of Aug. 12, 14, 16, 19, 21 and 23, are confined from roughly the mouth of the Lewis River near Woodland, WA., upstream to Bonneville.
The Compact, which sets Columbia mainstem commercial fisheries where the river makes up the Oregon-Washington border, is comprised of representatives of the directors of the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife.
In addition, Columbia River fishery managers decided yesterday to modify the ongoing sturgeon retention season in The Dalles Reservoir from seven to three days a week beginning Sunday, Aug. 5.
Managers hope reducing retention days to Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only will help offset the Aug. 1 opening of the spawning sanctuary in the pool.
“The area opening Aug. 1 is popular with anglers, who typically catch more fish there,” said Kevleen Melcher, ODFW fish biologist. “Going to a three-days-per-week fishery should help extend the season.”
The Dalles Pool will remain open to sturgeon retention until the 140 fish remaining on the 300 fish quota have been caught.
Fishery managers also approved a pilot fishery for hatchery fall chinook in the area below Bonneville Dam from Warrior Rock downstream to Tongue/Rocky Point. This area will be open for adipose fin-clipped chinook (adults and jacks), steelhead and coho during Sept. 10-16. The daily bag limit will be two adult fin-clipped salmonids, only one of which can be a chinook.
The lower Columbia from Warrior Rock to Tongue point was scheduled to close to chinook on Sept. 10. However, managers decided to try and provide additional fishing opportunity by keeping it open to hatchery fish, Melcher said. Staff will monitor how many fish are caught and harvested to assess the impact of the longer season.