States approve pilot season to extend fall chinook fishery

By Al Thomas, Columbian Outdoors Reporter



CATHLAMET — Washington and Oregon agreed on Thursday to a one-week, experimental hatchery-chinook-only fishing period in mid-September in the lower Columbia River.

Specfically, the states approved retention of a fin-clipped chinook from Sept. 10 through Sept. 16 from the Tongue Point-Rocky Point line near Astoria to Warrior Rock near St. Helens, Ore.

Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the pilot fishery is not a sure thing.

“Our first two goals are to keep Buoy 10 open through Labor Day and the mainstem Columbia open through Sept. 9,” she said. “As always, we are limited by certain stocks of fish meeting their conservation objectives, so this season will depend on previous fisheries.”

So, the fall fishery in lower Columbia tentatively will be as follows:

Buoy 10 — Open Aug. 1 through Sept. 3 with a two-salmon limit, but only one chinook per day.

Chinook retention is closed, but coho remain open, Sept. 4-30.

Beginning Oct. 1, the limit is two salmon, both of which can be a chinook. Coho must be fin clipped, but any adult chinook may be kept.

The catch expectation is 13,900 chinook and 8,000 hatchery coho.

Tongue Point to Warrior Rock — Open Aug. 1 through Sept. 9 with a two-fish limit, but only one chinook daily. Any chinook — hatchery or wild — may be kept.

From Sept. 10-16, the limit would be two two-fish, although only one adult hatchery chinook. All chinook, including jacks, must be fin-clipped.

From Sept. 17 through Sept. 30, the limit is two hatchery coho or hatchery steelhead, but no chinook retention.

Warrior Rock to Bonneville Dam — Open for two fish, but one chinook daily Aug. 1 through Sept. 9. Beginning Sept. 10, the daily limit can include two adult chinook. Any chinook — hatchery or wild — can be retained.

The catch expectation between Tongue Point and Bonneville Dam is 21,200 chinook and 1,500 hatchery coho.

LeFleur said the idea of allowing a hatchery chinook in the bag downstream of Warrior Rock from Sept. 10-16 was discussed in April in lieu of a complete closure to chinook retention.

Computer models project a catch of 3,900 chinook (kept plus release mortalities) in the seven days.

A fall chinook run of 654,900 is forecast to enter the Columbia beginning Wednesday. That’s a good number, if it materializes, and larger than the 10-year average.

A poor return of 240,800 coho is forecast. That’s only 51 percent of the 10-year average.

Commercial seasons — The Columbia River Compact on Thursday approved gillnetting from 9 a.m. Aug. 5 to 6 a.m. Aug. 6 from Beacon Rock to Buoy 10.

The compact also adopted commercial fishing periods from 9 a.m. Sundays to 6 a.m. Mondays, 9 p.m. Tuesdays to 6 a.m. Wednesdays and 9 p.m. Thursdays to 6 a.m. Fridays from Aug. 12 through Aug. 24 from Warrior Rock to Beacon Rock.

A catch of 14,400 chinook and 1,100 sturgeon is projected.