A Seattle federal district court judge ruled this week that NOAA Fisheries’ authorization of the Southeast Alaska troll fishery violated the Endangered Species Act by approving harvest levels that fail to protect Southern Resident killer whales and wild chinook listed under the ESA.
With an uptick in the run-size forecast for summer Chinook salmon, Columbia River fisheries managers this week extended angling in the river through the end of the month. Fishing in the lower river downstream of Bonneville Dam to the Astoria Megler Bridge in Astoria was set to end July 14, but the extension allows angling in that area to continue uninterrupted through July 31. Fall Chinook fishing begins the next day, Aug. 1.
A female spring chinook salmon released as a smolt by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in 2020 in upper Hangman Creek near Tensed, Idaho has returned to the Upper Columbia River where she will be transported around dams lacking fish passage and returned to her natal stream. She will be the first adult Chinook salmon to return to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s aboriginal territory in over 100 years.
Columbia River fishery managers from Oregon and Washington added 13 days of summer Chinook fishing below Bonneville Dam starting today, July 1 through Wednesday, July 13. The move comes as the sockeye return is now predicted to be more than double the preseason forecast.
Following another run upgrade, fishery managers from Oregon and Washington adopted additional fishing opportunity for spring Chinook salmon in the mainstem Columbia River from the Tongue Point area near Astoria to the Oregon/Washington state line upstream of McNary Dam and increased the bag limit for Chinook to up to two adults per day.
With a second upgrade of returning upriver Columbia River spring chinook in hand, Washington and Oregon fisheries managers opened up more mainstem recreational fishing and approved a one-day mainstem commercial tangle net fishery.
With a decent run-size upgrade, should Columbia River fisheries managers allow spring Chinook fishing below Bonneville Dam through May, or let more fish pass upriver and then continue fishing in June when much of run has moved out of the lower Columbia?
Historically about one million coho salmon returned annually to the Columbia River and were abundant throughout the upper Columbia River and Snake River watersheds. By the 1980s, the fish were gone from the basin interior – extirpated. But today, in several rivers above Bonneville Dam, the coho are back.
The spring Chinook return to the Columbia River basin is heating up as fisheries and hydro managers monitor juvenile and adult salmon passage carefully at Lower Monumental Dam while spillbay repair work continues. And good angling has led to the recreational fishery closing a day early, though fish passage counts at Bonneville Dam are currently above average.