Saturday, December 3, 2022
Dec. 3, 2022

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Entire Columbia River opening for salmon fishing on Saturday

WDFW anticipates 2,200 salmon to be caught by end of year


Salmon fishing will reopen Saturday in the entire lower Columbia from Bonneville Dam downstream to the mouth of the river.

Washington and Oregon fishery officials made the decision Wednesday.

The daily bag limit at Buoy 10 — the lower 16 miles of the Columbia downstream of Tongue Point near Astoria — will be three salmon, but only one chinook. Any chinook — hatchery or wild — may be retained plus hatchery coho.

From Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam, the river will be open for any chinook — hatchery or wild — plus hatchery coho. The daily bag limit will be two adult salmon, although only one chinook.

Ryan Lothrop of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said about 2,200 chinook are expected to be caught between Saturday and the end of 2022.

Angling was closed from Sept. 2-14 in the Columbia from Bonneville to the river mouth near Ilwaco after an unanticipated high catch of wild-stock, tule-strain fall chinook occurred in the Buoy 10 fishery.

Angling reopened in two areas — at Buoy 10 and in a stretch of the Columbia between the eastern tip of Reed Island near Washougal to Bonneville Dam — on Sept. 15.

That reopening was allowed because the wild tule fall chinook needing protection mostly have exited Buoy 10 by mid-September and do not migrate much upstream of the mouths of the Washougal and Sandy rivers.

Wild lower Columbia tule fall chinook are considered out of the main river and into their spawning tributaries by Oct. 1, no longer necessitating a need for a closure.

Fall chinook counts at Bonneville Dam have dropped to fewer than 3,000 fish a day. Those chinook mostly are bright-stock fall chinook destined for a variety of mid- and upper Columbia or Snake river locations.

A run of 252,300 late-stock coho salmon is forecast to enter the lower Columbia starting about now and continuing until early November. However, coho bite poorly once they leave the estuary.

Angling success at Buoy 10 was poor in the first four days after the Sept. 15 reopener. There were about 2,400 fishing trips with a catch of 570 kept coho, 364 wild coho that were released and 17 released chinook.

By contrast, angling was excellent in the Sept. 15-18 period between the eastern tip of Reed Island and Bonneville Dam.

State officials reported that 2,323 chinook were kept, 316 chinook were released, 86 coho were kept and 121 coho were released from 3,600 angler trips during the four days.

Fishing has slowed since. Sampling in the past week tallied 707 boat anglers with 240 chinook, 96 jack chinook, eight coho and one coho jack kept plus six chinook, 10 jack chinook, two adult coho and one steelhead released.

The policy of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions is that no more than 70 percent of the limiting fall stock (wild lower Columbia tules this year) be allocated to the sport fishery and no less than 30 percent to the commercials.

Jeff Whisler, a biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said this year’s limiting-stock sharing will end up 78 percent to the sport fishery and 22 percent to the commercials.

Commercial fishing — State officials on Wednesday also approved four additional nights of gillnetting between Warrior Rock near Woodland and Bonneville Dam.

Those nights are Sunday, Oct. 5, Oct. 9 and Oct. 12.

The Columbia also is open Mondays through Fridays through Oct. 28 from Warrior Rock to the mouth of the river for commercial tangle-net fishing.

Tangle nets are a small-mesh (3.75 inch) net designed to catch coho in their teeth or jaw, allowing live release. Wild coho must be released in the tangle-net fishery.

Sturgeon retention is allowed, but the commercial fishermen are limited to six sturgeon per calendar week.