Thursday, March 23, 2023
March 23, 2023

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Salmon fishing closes on large stretch of Columbia

Chinook fishing still allowed on many tributaries

By , Columbian staff writer

Most of the Columbia River closing to salmon and steelhead fishing

Starting Thursday, fishing for salmon will be closed on the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 upstream to U.S. Highway 395 in Pasco under new rules approved on Tuesday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon

Deep River in Washington and other tributaries in Oregon including Young’s Bay, Tongue Point/South Channel, Blind Slough, and Knappa Slough are also closed to salmon and steelhead angling.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) already prohibited steelhead retention in much of the same area of the Columbia River several weeks ago. The new emergency rule closes angling for both salmon and steelhead in those waters as well.

Bill Tweit, Columbia River fishery coordinator for the WDFW said the counts of fall Chinook at Bonneville Dam are 29 percent below preseason forecasts, and ongoing fisheries are approaching the allowable catch limits under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

“We recognize that this closure is difficult for anglers, but we have an obligation to meet our ESA goals so that fisheries can continue in the future,” said Tweit.

He added that the upriver fall Chinook run provides the bulk of the harvest opportunity for fall fisheries, but that returns in recent years has been declining due to unfavorable ocean conditions. The preseason forecast for this year is 47 percent of the 10-year average return of upriver bright fall Chinook.

Currently, anglers can still fish for Chinook in tributaries such as the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers, as well as the Washougal River, Drano Lake, the Wind River, the White Salmon River, and the Klickitat River.

Fishing guide Bob Rees calls the closure “very unfortunate, but it is necessary.”

He is hoping that managers will be able to reopen the river for coho salmon later this fall.

“There seems to be lots of coho around, but we have to wait until these (Chinook) move out of here,” he added.

Most of the fall Chinook will pass over Bonneville by the end of September.

Anglers are reminded to check the regulations every day before they fish.

The new emergency fishing rule is posted on WDFW’s website at

For more information: Region 5 Headquarters: (360) 696-6211

Columbian staff writer