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With High Counts at Bonneville Dam, Spring Chinook
Sport Fishery Reopens on Lower Columbia

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, May 8, 2015

Tyler Barrong of Spokane lands a 34.25-inch fall Chinook while salmon fishing near the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers on Sept. 16, 2014. (Shawn Barrong photo) The spring chinook sport fishery on the lower Columbia River will reopen for two days -- Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3 -- under an agreement reached Thursday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

High counts of spring chinook passing Bonneville Dam over the past week allowed the two states to reopen the fishery for at least two more days, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Federal fish counters stationed at the dam counted more than 17,000 adult spring chinook salmon on Tuesday and 11,000 more on Wednesday, prompting officials to raise this year's estimated run size to at least 220,000 upriver fish.

On Thursday another 13,676 adult springers passed Bonneville, while 16,000 were counted at The Dalles Dam. See Fish Passage Center 2015 Adult Salmon Counts.

"That's a lot of fish over the dam in two days, and it really helped to boost confidence in this year's spring chinook run," Roler said. "We'll be watching those numbers closely in the days ahead to see if we can give anglers some additional days on the water."

The spring chinook fishery has been closed below Bonneville Dam since April 16, after a two-day extension and a total catch of 10,130 upriver fish in six weeks of fishing.

The added fishing days are based on a revised run update that puts the projected return of spring chinook at 220,000, and makes approximately 4,000 more fish available to recreational anglers.

During the upcoming weekend, anglers can again retain one hatchery adult chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit. The area reopening to spring chinook fishing extends from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Beacon Rock for boat and bank anglers, and to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam for bank anglers.

Anglers may also fish for shad and hatchery-reared steelhead when the spring chinook fishery is open. For both salmon and steelhead, wild fish with an intact adipose fin must be immediately released unharmed.

Meanwhile, the fishery for hatchery salmon and steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River above Bonneville Dam is set to run through May 6 from the Tower Island power lines to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank anglers can also fish upriver from Bonneville Dam to the Tower Island power lines during that time.

Like those fishing below the dam, anglers fishing those waters can catch and keep one adult hatchery spring chinook as part of their catch limit.

According to Thursday's Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife Joint State Report Fact Sheet:

Non-Indian Fishery Update

With High Counts at Bonneville Dam, Spring Chinook Sport Fishery Reopens on Lower Columbia
Columbia Basin Bulletin, May 8, 2015

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