Spring Chinook Fishery Closes Pending Run Update On Lower Columbia River
April 1, 2016
OLYMPIA – The first phase of the popular sport fishery for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River will close at the end of the day Friday, April 8, one day earlier than previously expected.
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed to close the fishery based on projections that the catch of upriver chinook salmon will reach the initial 7,515-fish harvest guideline a day ahead of schedule.
The closure includes fishing for salmon, steelhead and shad in the 145-mile section of the Columbia River downstream from Bonneville Dam. It does not affect fisheries upriver from the dam, or any tributaries to the Columbia River.
Fisheries in the lower Columbia River could reopen later this spring if the number of spring chinook passing the dam in the coming weeks reaches or exceeds preseason expectations, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Roler said that decision will be based on an updated run-size projection, expected in late April or early May. Prior to the season, fishery managers anticipated that 188,800 upriver spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year.
“For the next few weeks, all eyes will be on the number of spring chinook passing Bonneville Dam,” Roler said. “Fishing has been good so far this year, but the count of chinook salmon at the dam lagged until just a week or two ago. The next few weeks will tell the tale or whether we can reopen the fishery.”
As in years past, Washington and Oregon manage the fishery with a 30 percent “buffer” on the upriver chinook forecast until the results of the in-season run update are known, Roler said.
“This strategy is designed to prevent overharvesting the run,” Roler said. “If the fish return at or above expectations, we can then look to providing additional days of fishing later in the spring.”