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News / Sports / Outdoors

Salmon, steelhead fishing closed on Columbia River

Number of returning fish are lower than expected

By Columbian news services
Published: May 31, 2023, 6:59pm

The recreational fishery for spring Chinook salmon and steelhead on the lower Columbia River are now closed.

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington made the announcement Wednesday to close the season as of midnight.

After analyzing spring Chinook salmon catches to date for both treaty and non-treaty fisheries, fishery managers decided to close the salmon and steelhead fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam through June 15.

“It’s hard to have to close these fisheries when we have managed them conservatively while facing run-size uncertainty this year, but we need to be responsive,” said Tucker Jones, ODFW Columbia River Program Manager. “Rather than pointing fingers at a particular fishery, it’s important to acknowledge the real problem, that there are way too few wild Snake River spring/summer Chinook coming back.”

Angling for and retention of all salmon and steelhead is prohibited in the mainstem Columbia River from Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam.

The fishery from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Oregon/Washington border was closed on May 25.

Fishing will remain open for hatchery spring Chinook salmon in the Wind River and Drano Lake. The Snake River spring Chinook salmon fishery remains closed. Shad fishing will remain open in the lower Columbia River.

On Tuesday, the expected return of upriver adult spring Chinook to the Columbia River mouth was downgraded from the 153,000 fish predicted on May 24 to 143,000 fish, based on passage at Bonneville Dam.

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington were also provided treaty catches through May 18, which were higher than expected.

“The state used about half the allowable ESA (Endangered Species Act)impacts, but we have a duty to manage wild salmon stocks within ESA impact limits, which makes this action necessary for the conservation of upriver spring Chinook ESA-listed stocks,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fisheries manager with WDFW.

“The cold spring and river conditions have contributed to an unusual fish passage and run timing this year. Fishery managers will continue to monitor actual returns closely in the weeks ahead.”

The mainstem Columbia River summer salmon and steelhead fishery is scheduled to start on June 16.

For full fishery details and regulations, see the emergency rule change at WDFW’s website. Permanent regulations can be found in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. To receive regulation updates and other information via email, subscribe to Columbia River fishery notices at WDFW’s website.