Eastern Washington Fall Chinook
by Eric Barker
Although Idaho will allow anglers fishing the Snake River between Lewiston and Hells Canyon Dam to catch and keep hatchery fall chinook this fall, it is unclear if Washington will follow suit. Washington's permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service that allows it to hold fishing seasons where listed fish might be harmed after being caught and released covers the entire Columbia River basin. Idaho's starts above Lower Granite Dam.
That means when Washington considers a fishing season in the Snake River it has to factor in the number of times wild fall chinook are caught and released in the Columbia River as well as the Snake. Idaho only has to consider the catch and release impacts of wild fish above Granite. Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at Dayton said the number of wild fall chinook expected to return to the Columbia basin this year is not high enough to allow fishing and its possible impacts on the Snake River.
If the fall chinook run comes in stronger than expected, Washington might be able to reconsider. The state is also in the process of getting a new permit from NMFS that would allow it to consider impacts above Granite separate from impacts in the Columbia. There is a possibility that the permit, in the works for several years, could be completed by September. Mendel said if it is, the state would look to open a fall chinook season on the Snake.
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