Chinook Seasons Begin Aug. 1 with
Columbia River anglers will be able to catch chinook salmon throughout August during this year's "Buoy 10" fishery, but will be required to release any chinook they intercept upriver to Bonneville Dam until Sept. 1.
Also, for the first time, mark-selective fishing rules will be in effect for chinook jacks on eight Columbia River tributaries, requiring anglers to release chinook salmon less than 24 inches long that are not hatchery fish marked with a clipped adipose fin.
Those are just a few of the new fishing rules that will take effect Aug. 1 on the Columbia River and its tributaries, where anglers can expect some changes from last year, Pat Frazier, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said in a news release.
"Anglers should make sure to review the current fishing rules pamphlet before they head out," Frazier said. "Run forecasts and other circumstances are different this year, and the fall salmon regulations reflect those changes."
One bright spot is the popular Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the Columbia River, where anglers will have 31 days to catch chinook, compared to just 12 days last year.
This year's fishery should benefit from an estimated return of 86,200 chinook – up from 14,600 last year – bound for the Spring Creek Hatchery above Bonneville Dam, said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator.
"The goal is to target those healthy upriver hatchery stocks, which tend to bite well when they first enter the river," LeFleur said. "We're also expecting a strong return of chinook reared in net pens in select areas throughout the lower river."
In all, 376,800 adult fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River this year, compared to 219,600 last year, LeFleur said. But to protect weak runs, including those listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), fishery managers adopted several new conservation measures during the annual North of Falcon season-setting process. New rules taking effect Aug. 1 will affect fishing in a number of rivers:
"The immediate benefit is that anglers will have a opportunity to catch and retain marked chinook jacks on a number of rivers and benefit wild runs," he said. "In fact, we want anglers to catch those hatchery jacks, because we want them off the spawning grounds."
Within a few years, all hatchery-reared chinook salmon - including adults - returning to the Columbia River will be identifiable through mass marking, Frazier said.
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