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.
The Department of the Interior this week announced that $10.65 million provided by the infrastructure bill approved last year will be used for repairs and upgrades for Bureau of Indian Affairs-owned water systems, including improvements to three Columbia River tribal fishing access sites.
Oregon and Washington fisheries managers were forced to shut down commercial salmon fishing on the lower Columbia River Wednesday after the gillnetters caught far too many upriver spring Chinook. Several future fishing periods already approved were rescinded during a period of high prices for salmon.
Wild Columbia River summer steelhead have been declining since 2009, and Bonneville Dam counts in 2021 showed the lowest returns since 1997.