The directors of the Oregon and Washington Fish and Wildlife Departments have set allocations for the upcoming Columbia River commercial and sport fishing spring Chinook runs.
The fisheries will be administered with a 75 percent share for recreational anglers, and 25 percent to commercial fishermen.
The allocations refer to the proportion of impacts to wild fish allowed under Endangered Species Act guidelines, and not to the actual proportion of the catch.
They also agreed to allow a tangle net fishery for commercial fishermen on the mainstem Columbia River this spring after the spring Chinook run is updated in mid to late May, if the run is large enough to allow some harvest.
Also, barbless hooks will be mandatory on the Columbia River again after Washington agreed to follow Oregon’s lead, and overturned an earlier decision the state had made to allow barbed hooks.
Both states commissions delegated the development of 2020 Columbia fisheries to the directors, Curt Melcher of Oregon, and Kelly Susewind of Washington, after a policy review by the fish and wildlife commissions sparked controversy.
“Consistency in the regulations between our two states is always a top priority when talking about management on the Columbia River,” Susewind said in a news release. “This agreement is similar to what occurred last year and brings Oregon and Washington in line with each other on some key issues.”
Commercial nets would not be allowed to fish in the mainstem during the summer Chinook run, but the rules would allow for a fall commercial fishery above the Lewis River.
In response to the decision, the Coastal Conservation Association of Southwest Washington has issued a call to action for anglers to contact their legislatures to oppose the changes.
“WDFW and ODFW have announced an agreement that opens the door for a lower Columbia River mainstem gillnet fishery for spring Chinook this year — for the first time since 2016,” the CCA noted on its website. “The decision is yet another step in the alarming effort to dismantle the bi-state Columbia River fishery reforms and restore year-round gillnetting to the mainstem lower Columbia. It also comes as many salmon and steelhead returns are precariously low and WDFW is asking Legislators for $26 million to close a budget shortfall made worse by these types of decisions.”
Barbless hooks were not required in the Columbia by Washington state in 2019. Oregon went along for the year but refused to make the rule permanent. In its recent decision, Washington deferred to Oregon in mandating barbless hooks for 2020 on the Columbia River.
Barbless hooks will be required for salmon and steelhead fisheries on the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth to the Washington/Oregon state line upstream of McNary Dam, effective March 1.
While the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission continues to review the heavily negotiated policy, known as the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy, (C-3620), Oregon has suspended its review.
Registration opens for Klineline Kids Fishing Event
The Klineline Kids Fishing non-profit has announced that registration is now open for the annual Kids Fishing Derby held at the lake every spring. The derby will be held May 1-2.
May 1 is the special needs day, with kids and adults with special needs participating, and May 2 will be the main event, for everyone else.
In recent years as many as 3,000 kids have taken part in the derby.
For more information, or to volunteer, check the Klineline Kids Fishing website.
WDFW approves four days of razor clamming
State shellfish managers have approved another round of razor clam digs, after tests for marine toxins showed the clams were safe to eat.
The digs are for the following beaches, dates and low tides:
• Feb. 20, Thursday, 4:54 p.m. 0.0 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
• Feb. 21, Friday, 5:35 p.m. -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
• Feb. 22, Saturday, 6:11 p.m. -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
• Feb. 23, Sunday, 6:44 p.m. -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
No digging is allowed before noon when the low tides are in the evening.
The WDFW has closed a small section of Mocrocks Beach due to a nearby sewage spill. The area will remain closed through February. Clammers may access Mocrocks Beach north and south of the 1,500 ft. shoreline closure.
For a complete list of proposed digs through April, check the WDFW razor clam page.
Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.