OLYMPIA — With Chinook returning in greater numbers than anticipated, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Wednesday agreed to reopen the lower Columbia River for recreational spring Chinook fishing beginning Thursday, May 12.
The run-size forecast for adult spring Chinook returning to the Columbia River in 2022 was increased earlier in the week to 161,800 adults, up from the pre-season forecast of 122,900. Chinook returns counted at Bonneville Dam as of May 9 indicate the run is coming in at 127 percent of the 10-year average.
“This stronger run is welcome news, and it’s great that we can reopen spring fishing while Chinook abundance is still high and also align a portion of the fishery with the summer season,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fishery manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The summer season in the lower Columbia River is scheduled to occur June 16-22.
Managers agreed to open the lower Columbia for two distinct openings, with the first occurring Thursday, May 12 through Sunday, May 22. The second opening would take place June 4-15. The fishery and run will be assessed next week to determine if additional fishing time is possible.
“This approach gives us the chance to evaluate fishery impacts following the first reopening and adjust as necessary, to continue our adaptive approach to managing fisheries in-season and ensure we remain within harvest constraints while considering offering additional opportunities in the future,” Lothrop said. “We’ll be monitoring returns and catch rates closely to ensure we’re achieving our conservation goals for this important stock.”
Fishing will be open on these dates from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), plus bank angling by hand-cast only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.
The daily limit is six hatchery steelhead/Chinook, including no more than two adults, of which no more than one may be an adult Chinook.
Anglers must release all wild steelhead and all salmon other than hatchery Chinook. Salmon minimum size 12 inches.
Shad retention is also permitted, with no minimum size or daily limit.
With the current run size and allowable allocation, the fishery on the portion of river above Bonneville to the Oregon-Washington state line has exceeded its allocation and will remain closed at this time.