by Eric Barker
Fishing on the Snake will be limited to Ice Harbor and Little Goose dams
Washington anglers will get a shot at catching spring chinook in the Snake River, but not near Clarkston.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife approved two-day-a-week fishing near Ice Harbor and Little Goose dams. Chris Donley, fish program manager for the department's eastern region, said the state is estimating a Snake River harvest quota of 542 adult spring chinook.
The Little Goose Dam fishery will be open Tuesdays and Fridays starting May 3. Fishing will be allowed from the Texas Rapids Boat Ramp to the dam.
The Ice Harbor fishery will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays starting May 4 from the southbound U.S. Highway 12 bridge to the dam.
The bag limit will be one adult fish and as many as three jacks.
Donley said the small quota and difficulty keeping track of harvest made opening a season near Clarkston unreasonable. Like many organizations, the agency is dealing with a labor shortage.
"We are trying to be conservative and we are short on creel staff," he said. "I don't have the staff to spread them out any further."
Fisheries managers are predicting a modest return of spring chinook bound for Columbia River tributaries upstream of Bonneville Dam, including the Snake River. However, the run is expected to be an improvement over the poor runs of the past five or so years.
Donley said the run, thus far, is matching expectations.
"I think they are tracking where we thought they would be," he said. "The catch down below Bonneville was right on track."
Anglers on the lower Columbia harvested about 5,100 spring chinook in a season that closed April 6.
The number of adult chinook passing Bonneville Dam got off to a hot start and was briefly trending above the 10-year average. It has since slowed, perhaps a reaction to change in tides and water temperatures. Donely thinks the run may pick up again later this week when tides turn more favorable.
"I fished down there early last week and fishing was great, which tells me there are quite a few fish around, because springers aren't easy to catch when there aren't that many," he said. "I'm optimistic we will see the fish."
Idaho's spring chinook season opens April 23, with fishing allowed on parts of the Clearwater River and its tributaries, as well as the Salmon, Little Salmon and Snake rivers. Fisheries managers are predicting nearly 123,000 spring chinook bound for tributaries upstream of Bonneville Dam will return at least as far as the mouth of the Columbia River. That prediction includes about 73,400 Snake River-bound fish. Idaho Fish and Game officials predict about 39,600 hatchery spring chinook and 9,700 wild fish bound for Idaho rivers will make it at least as far as Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River.
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