OLYMPIA — With returns continuing to come in above expectations, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Thursday agreed to add more spring Chinook fishing days above Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, and increase the daily spring Chinook limit on the portion of river below Bonneville from June 4-15.
Managers also agreed to open boat fishing from Beacon Rock to Bonneville — a section previously only open for bank angling. Two additional days were also added to the estuary sturgeon retention fishery.
The spring Chinook forecast was increased Tuesday to 192,900 fish, up from the pre-season forecast of 122,900. Through June 1, 149,031 fish had passed Bonneville Dam, which is more than double the recent five-year average for that date.
“It’s heartening to see a stronger return of spring Chinook this year,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fisheries manager with WDFW.
“We’ve looked carefully at catch so far, and feel comfortable offering additional days above Bonneville, while expanding opportunity below the dam as well. As always, we’ll continue to adaptively manage this fishery, but we’re optimistic these openings will help carry us straight into the summer season.”
The section of river above Bonneville from the Tower Island power lines upstream to the Washington/Oregon border will open Saturday, June 4 through Wednesday June 15, with a daily limit of two hatchery Chinook or hatchery steelhead, or one of each.
The section of the Columbia below Bonneville was already open through June 15, but boat angling from Beacon Rock to the Bonneville Dam deadline will now be allowed on those dates, and anglers may keep up to two adult hatchery Chinook as part of their daily limit.
Anglers should be aware of the river conditions and use extreme caution when fishing this section of the river.
In addition to the spring Chinook fishery, managers agreed to add two days — Wednesday, June 8 and Saturday, June 11 — to the sturgeon retention fishery from the Columbia River mouth at Buoy 10 to the Wauna Powerlines.
All previous regulations remain in effect, including a 2 p.m. closure to all sturgeon fishing on retention days.
The summer Chinook season is expected to run June 16-22 from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam. Upstream of Bonneville Dam to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco is scheduled to open June 16 through July 31.