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Spring Chinook Fishing Extended With Increased Bag Limit; So Far, Jacks Passage Very Low
Posted on Friday, June 08, 2018 (PST)

With high river flows, low visibility and an apparent lack of angling success, Washington and Oregon extended spring chinook angling downstream of Bonneville Dam and increased the bag limit for hatchery salmon to two per day.

 

At a public hearing this week, June 5, the two-state Columbia River Compact added one week for anglers fishing below the dam and, ultimately, decided to change angers’ bag limits from one hatchery chinook per day to two in areas from Buoy 10 near Astoria to the Oregon/Washington border upstream of McNary Dam on the Columbia River.

 

In addition, with more than 1,200 fish remaining in this year’s quota, the Compact added one day of white sturgeon fishing in the lower Columbia River estuary for tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, ending at 2 pm.

 

Looking towards summer fishing, treaty tribes will be opening commercial gillnetting in Zone 6 for summer chinook, steelhead and other fish, initially for two 4.5 day periods beginning June 18 and June 25. Tribes also extended commercial sturgeon platform setline and hook and line fishing through June 15 in the John Day pool only.

 

While fishing is being extended downriver, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission reduced the number of days anglers can fish for spring chinook salmon on the Lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers as of tomorrow, as well as a reduction in the bag limit to four hatchery salmon. The reduction in days is to four days of fishing allowed per week, now only Thursdays through Sundays.

 

Fish and Game Anadromous Fish Manager Lance Hebdon said the intent of reducing the bag limit is to slow harvest so the department can better manage the fishery and ensure there's not over harvest of fish needed to replenish the hatchery. The goal is not to extend the fishing season, even though that could occur, but it's difficult to predict.

 

With a smaller harvest share than in recent years and the rivers coming into good fishing shape, he said the harvest share could be quickly caught, but in the past, there's also been a reduction in angler effort when the bag limit is reduced.

 

In addition, two stretches of the Lower Salmon River will close and not reopen this year (see https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/fish-and-game-commission-shortens-chinook-fishing-and-bag-limits-lower-salmon-and-little).

 

Some 93,166 spring chinook had passed Bonneville Dam as of Monday, June 5, the day before the Compact hearing, according to the Compact Spring Fact Sheet #2a (https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/18/18_06_05sf2a.pdf). That’s just 58 percent of the 10-year average of 160,426. The count of spring chinook jacks over the dam is even more dismal, with just 6,728 fish, 24 percent of the 10-year average of 27,885.

 

The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which sets preseason run sizes, as well as adjusting those run sizes in-season, met Monday, maintaining its latest run size update for spring chinook of 116,500 fish. At its May 21 meeting, TAC had downsized its preseason forecast from 166,700 to the current 116,500. TAC had noted that even that number is uncertain given current high river flows and fluctuations in chinook passage at the dam. The Committee will meet again Monday.

 

According to the Fact Sheet, under the 2018-2027 U.S. v Oregon Management Agreement, a Columbia River return of 116,500 adult upriver spring chinook allows for a non-treaty Endangered Species Act impact rate of 1.7 percent and a catch balance limit of 9,670 upriver mortalities. In addition, fishery managers are to allocate the ESA impacts 80 percent to recreational and 20 to commercial fishers (there have been no mainstem commercial fisheries this year).

 

The Compact estimates that 6,486 chinook have been kept and 1,184 released in the river downstream of Bonneville Dam. Of those, upriver chinook mortalities are 4,859 fish or 68 percent of the current allocation of 7,187 upriver fish based on a run size of 116,500. In addition, about 625 steelhead have been kept.

 

For the proposed fishery below Bonneville Dam, staff expects catches will not exceed 150 adult chinook per day, which would add 1,200 upriver mortalities for June 4-15. The projected season total upriver mortalities would be about 6,060 fish, or 84 percent of the allocation at the current run size.

 

The recreational chinook fishery from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Oregon/Washington border was open from March 16 through May 7, and re-opened May 25 through June 15. Catch estimates through June 3 total 527 adult chinook and no steelhead kept from approximately 5,940 angler trips. Kept and release mortalities of adult upriver chinook are estimated at 537 fish, or 56 percent of the current allocation of 958 fish. Compact staff expects that going from one to two kept fish will bring upriver mortalities in this fishery to 677 fish through June 15 or 71 percent of the area’s allocation.

 

Recreational fisheries on the lower Snake River (Washington waters) are ongoing until the harvest allocation is met, the Fact Sheet says. Catch estimates through June 4 total 585 fish. Kept and release mortalities of adult upriver chinook are estimated at 601 fish, or 65 percent of the current allocation of 924 fish.

 

The two states agreed to extend the spring chinook fishery through June 15 – a nine day extension – below Bonneville Dam and increase the daily adult chinook limit to two hatchery fish for anglers fishing above and below Bonneville Dam. All wild chinook and wild steelhead must be released, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife news release. That section of the river had previously been set to close June 6.

 

Below Bonneville, the Compact also agreed to open the section from Beacon Rock to the deadline below Bonneville to boat angling. That section was previously open only to bank anglers.

 

The changes are based on TAC’s May 21 updated run forecast of 116,500 chinook, said Ryan Lothrop, a Columbia River fishery manager for WDFW.

 

"There is sufficient catch allocation to allow us to add a few more days of fishing opportunity in the mainstem Columbia below Bonneville Dam," Lothrop said.

 

Also on Tuesday, fishery managers agreed to open white sturgeon retention on Saturday, June 9 in the Columbia River estuary downstream from the Wauna powerlines. The one-day fishery is open from one hour before sunrise through 2 p.m. June 9, when the fishery closes for both retention and catch-and-release fishing. Sturgeon that are kept must be between 44 and 50 inches fork length. The daily limit is one fish, while the annual limit on sturgeon is two fish. Green sturgeon must be released.

 

Compact staff had originally recommended opening sturgeon fishing today, Friday, June 8, but a prediction of poor and dangerous weather conditions prompted the biologists to put the opening off one day. The Saturday opening will also allow more families an opportunity to fish for sturgeon.

 

The 2018 estuary white sturgeon retention season was adopted on a days-per-week approach (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) for 10 days from May 14 through June 4. Total season effort has been 91 percent of preseason expectations, but the kept catch rate was only about 63 percent of expected, leaving 1,255 fish in the allocation, according to the Fact Sheet. Total harvest to date is estimated at 1,705 fish, or 58 percent of the 2,960 fish allocation.

 

Staff expects the catch of sturgeon on Saturday to be 600 fish, bringing the season total to 2,300 fish or 78 percent of the 2,960 fish guideline. Last year, total catch exceeded the guideline by 235 fish.

 

For Washington anglers, information about these fisheries can be found online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_current_order_by_date.j.

 

For Oregon anglers, information about upcoming Columbia River seasons, including regulation updates, are at ODFW’s online fishing reports at www.myodfw.com.

 

Some 3,976 wild winter and early summer steelhead (1,575 wild) have passed Bonneville Dam as of June 5, 68 percent of the 10-year average of 5,813 (1,749 wild). 3,446 had passed on this date last year (1,078 wild).

 

The number of sockeye salmon that have passed the dam is down from the 10-year average of 1,016, standing at 661 sockeye, or 65 percent of the 10-year average. Last year 363 had passed on June 5.

 

Some 570,026 shad, an invasive, but pervasive species in the Columbia River basin, had passed the dam as of June 5, 1.6 times the 10- year average of 357,346.

 

The number of lamprey is 4,438 lamprey, 1.8 times the 10-year average of 2,416, but down from last year’s count of 7,536.

 

Treaty commercial summer chinook fishing (gillnetting) will open June 18 – 22 and June 26 – 29 in Zone 6. The summer management period for summer chinook salmon runs from June 16 to July 31, with all chinook passing the dam during this period considered as upriver summer chinook.

 

The preseason forecast for upriver summer chinook is 67,300 fish. Last year’s forecast was 63,100 fish and the actual count was 68,204. The treaty fishing allocation is 20,624 and during these two periods Tribes estimate their catch to be 12,550 chinook (both gillnet and platform fishing), 3,060 sockeye (allocation is 6,930) and 370 steelhead (no allocation).

 

The preseason forecast for sockeye salmon is 99,000 fish heading to the upper Columbia and Snake rivers. Last year’s forecast was 198,500 sockeye, but the actual run was far lower at 88,263.

 

Some 190,350 upriver summer steelhead are forecasted this year, higher than the 130,700 fish forecast last year as well as the 2017 actual run of 116,841 summer steelhead.

 

Columbia River InterTribal Fish Commission Spring Fact Sheet #2b at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/18/18_06_05sf2b.pdf

 

The Compact’s June 5 Action Notice is at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/18/180605_notice.pdf

 

Also see:

 

--CBB, June 1, 2018, “Spring Chinook Forecast Downgraded, But Managers Say Run Good Enough For More Fishing,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440847.aspx

 

--CBB, May 18, 2018, “Spring Chinook Fishing Closed Until Run Update; Steelhead Fishing Opens In Lower Columbia,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440767.aspx

 

--CBB, May 4, 2018, “Daily Spring Chinook Passage At Bonneville Dam Picks Up, But Still Far Below 10-Year Average,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440652.aspx

 

-- CBB, April 27, 2018, “Spring Chinook Fishing Opens Saturday In Idaho Though Few Fish Have Crossed Lower Granite,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440609.aspx

 

--CBB, April 13, 2018, “Low Bonneville Dam Passage For Spring Chinook Results In One More Fishing Day In Lower Columbia,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440519.aspx

 

-- CBB, February 23, 2018, “States Set Columbia River Spring Chinook Fishing, Hear Concerns About Upriver Allocations,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440263.aspx

 

-- CBB, February 2, 2018, “2018 Fishing Season: Gillnetting Begins For Salmon, Smelt In Limited Areas Of Mainstem Columbia,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440169.aspx

 

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