With fishing reopened under standard rules on May 5, following a statewide closure to help combat the spread of COVID-19, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds anglers that a number of emergency rules remain in effect for state waters.
While freshwater fisheries and Puget Sound saltwater fisheries (with the exception of shrimp and halibut) reopened beginning May 5 under permanent rules, the harvest of clams, oysters, and mussels remains closed statewide, and all saltwater fisheries off Washington’s Pacific coast also remain closed in consultation with local health authorities. This includes all fishing and shellfishing in marine areas 1-4.
At this time, charter and guide industries have not received approval from the Governor’s Office to resume operations. WDFW is working closely with guides and charters who have submitted safety and operations plans to the Governor’s Office for consideration.
In addition to these ongoing closures, some emergency fishing rules enacted before the statewide closure in late March will now go back into effect.
“We’re eager to get everybody back out and recreating responsibly,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW Fish Program director. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this closure and we’re hopeful for continued progress in the fight against COVID-19 so that we can continue to provide safe management of these resources. It’s more important than ever that anglers know what’s open and what’s closed before they head out, not only in terms of whether fishing is open, but also the status of any facilities at their destination.”
While many state lands reopened for day use on May 5, many public water access sites might still be closed, including local, federal, or tribal facilities. People should be prepared to make alternate plans if their intended destination remains closed or appears too congested. All camping on wildlife areas and access areas remains closed and anglers should come prepared to provide their own toilet paper and soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Anglers are also urged to recreate within their own communities and to follow physical distancing guidelines, keeping 6 feet between themselves and others and not traveling by car or boat with anyone outside of their immediate household.
“It’s on all of us to follow these guidelines and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 without future closures,” Cunningham said.
Rules in effect when fisheries reopened May 5 include:
1.Adult salmon daily limit reduced in Drano Lake.
2.Adult salmon daily limit reduced on the Klickitat River.
3.Adult salmon daily limit reduced on Wind River.
4.Hatchery steelhead season extended on Salmon Creek (Clark Co.).
5.Willapa Bay tributaries closed to all fishing.
6.Adult Chinook daily limit reduced on the Kalama River.
7.Chinook retention closed on the Cowlitz River, Cispus River, and Lake Scanewa.
8.Salmon season closed on the Lewis River.
9.Columbia River salmon and steelhead anglers must use barbless hooks from the WA/OR border downstream.
10.All fishing in the Chehalis Basin closed until the Saturday before Memorial Day. (Includes Chehalis, Elk, Johns, Hoquiam, Newaukum, Satsop, Skookumchuck, Wishkah, and Wynoochee rivers and their tributaries, and Cloquallum and Elk creeks and their tributaries.)
11.The Columbia River above and below Bonneville Dam is scheduled to open for spring Chinook fishing on May 5, 7, 9, and 13, and a portion of the lower river will open for sockeye beginning May 16.
12.Two sections of the Snake River will open for spring Chinook fishing on alternating days, four days per week, beginning May 5.
Angling for spring chinook on the lower Snake River began May 5.
Two sections of the river – the area surrounding Little Goose Dam and the area around Clarkston — will be open on alternating days, giving area anglers four possible days each week for spring chinook fishing.
“This is always a popular fishery, so we’re excited that we can offer an opportunity to fish,” said Chris Donley, Region 1 fish program manager with WDFW.
Fishing — along with state-managed public lands and water access areas — was closed throughout Washington in late March in order to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Many freshwater and saltwater fisheries reopened May 5.
The two sections of the Snake River opening for Chinook retention are:
•Opening Tuesdays and Fridays beginning May 5: The area from the Texas Rapids boat launch to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the walkway area known locally as “The Wall” on the south side of the river below Little Goose Dam.
•Opening Wednesdays and Saturdays beginning May 6: The Clarkston area from the downstream edge of the large powerlines crossing the Snake River upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the WA/ID boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
Anglers in these areas may keep up to 4 hatchery chinook daily, only one of which may be an adult. The minimum size of any retained chinook salmon is 12 inches. All wild salmon, bull trout, and steelhead must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers fishing for chinook salmon must use barbless hooks, and a night closure is in effect for salmon fishing. Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.
The fishery is open until further notice, but Donley noted that fishery managers will be watching the run closely to ensure harvest impacts aren’t exceeded and Endangered Species Act requirements are met, and will close the fishery when necessary.
Anglers are also asked to continue helping in the fight against COVID-19 by practicing physical distancing at all fishing locations and water access areas. This includes keeping 6 feet between yourself and anyone not in your immediate household, and having a backup plan in case your intended destination appears too crowded or remains closed. Though state lands opened May 5, some facilities may still be unavailable, and the public is encouraged to carry their own handwashing materials and packing out their garbage.
For the latest updates on WDFW’s response to the coronavirus, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/covid-19-updates
As fishing opens up, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District is relaxing restrictions at some recreation sites in Oregon and Washington, Thursday, May 7th as the first phase in a gradual relaxing of closures at Corps locations.
Unless specifically stated as being open in the list below, Corps-managed recreation sites remain closed at this time.
* These sites in the list below had restrictions relaxed May 5th, as outlined in a previous news release: www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Media/News/Article/2176443/
The day use recreation areas relaxing restrictions are:
BONNEVILLE LOCK & DAM
Fort Cascades, Washington*
Hamilton Island, Washington*
North Shore Recreation Area, Washington*
Tanner Creek Recreation Area, Oregon
THE DALLES LOCK & DAM
Avery Park, Washington*
Celilo Park, Oregon – Boat Ramp only (Park is closed)
Hess Park, Washington
North Shore Recreation Area, Washington*
Spearfish Park, Washington
JOHN DAY LOCK & DAM
Cliffs Park, Washington – Day Use only
Giles French Park, Oregon – Day Use only
Lepage Park, Oregon – Boat Ramp only (Park is closed)
Plymouth Park, Washington – Boat Ramp*
Railroad Island Park, Washington*
Rock Creek Park, Washington*
Roosevelt Park, Washington*
Sundale Park, Washington*
Threemile Canyon Park, Oregon – Day Use Area
LOST CREEK LAKE
Lewis Road Trailhead
Lost Creek Trailhead
McGregor Park Boat Ramp
McGregor Park Fishing Access
Peyton Bridge Trailhead
Rivers Edge Fishing Access
Spillway Fishing Access
Takelma Park Boat Ramp (Park is closed)
Big Butte Mike Trailhead
William L. Jess Dam Recreation Area
Blue River – Lucky Boy Viewpoint
Cottage Grove – Lakeside Park Boat Ramp and Wilson Creek Park Boat Ramp (Parks are closed)
Cougar- Downstream Area and Viewpoint Area
Detroit – Overlook
Dorena – Bake Stewart Park, Harms Park, North & South Abutments
Fall Creek – South Viewpoint and Tufti Park
Fern Ridge – Jeans Park and East Kirk Park
Foster – Andrew S. Wiley Park
Green Peter – Billings Park, Whitcomb Bridge Park and North Shore Viewpoint
Hills Creek – North and South Viewpoints
Lookout Point – Landax Park and Signal Point Boat Ramp
The sites listed above are only open for day-use. Camping and overnight use is not permitted at this time. All visitor centers, playgrounds and group picnic sites remain closed. Visitors must comply with all park and vehicle rules and recreate responsibly by following safety guidelines to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
The Corps closed all recreation locations March 30 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support the stay-at-home executive orders issued by the Oregon and Washington state governors.
Stay-at-home orders are still in place in Oregon and Washington and we encourage the public to continue following this guidance. We relaxed our recreation site restrictions at some sites to align with the Oregon and Washington governors limited reopening of state recreation areas for responsible use by local residents. In addition, both Oregon and Washington fish & wildlife departments opened hunting and fishing to non-residents, including Spring Salmon season for May 5, 7, 9 and 13.
“The health and safety of all visitors, partners, employees and their families is our top priority. We are in the early phases of gradually reopening some recreation sites, but we need your cooperation to keep these sites open,” said Melissa Rinehart, Portland District chief of natural resource management.
“Recreating has changed due to COVID-19. Please limit your travel to nearby locations and follow the guidelines we have put in place to promote a safe experience at our recreation sites.”
We ask the public follow these guidelines established by the Corps and the Oregon and Washington governor’s offices:
• Anyone exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms shall not participate in outdoor recreation activities.
• We may need to close any public park, land, trail or boat ramp if there is reason to believe an unsafe condition exists or social distancing practices are not being adhered to.
• People must recreate locally: Do not travel farther than necessary and do not stay overnight to recreate.
• Parking may be limited, but recreation users must park in designated spots.
• Limit your recreation partners to only those who live within your household unit.
• Always maintain a minimum six-foot social distance from other people in all areas including trailhead and boat ramp locations.
• Utilize facial coverings in any situation where social distancing is not possible.
• Do not gather in groups.
• Be considerate of other park visitors. Public restrooms are only as clean as the last user. Where restrooms are available, they may not have hand sanitizing stations. Bring your own personal protective supplies including hand sanitizer, soap, water, face mask, disinfectant wipes, etc.
• Bring your own food and supplies when possible to help protect others in your community.
• Wear a personal floatation device (life vest) if you are recreating on the water. At this time, Corps life jacket loaner stations are not available in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Corps will continually monitor guidance from state and local officials on the COVID-19 pandemic and update recreation conditions as information changes.