Snake River Spring Chinook
by Stevee Chapman
Two sections of the Snake River, below Ice Harbor Dam near Pasco and below Lower Granite Dam, will open to fishing for spring Chinook salmon Sunday, April 19th. Two other sections of the river - below Little Goose Dam and Clarkston - will open Thursday, April 23rd.
Each section of the river is scheduled to be open three days per week. Waters below Ice Harbor Dam and below Lower Granite Dam are scheduled to be open Sunday through Tuesday each week, while the Little Goose Dam and Clarkston area sections will be open Thursday through Saturday each week.
All four sections will remain open until further notice.
Jeremy Trump, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the fishery will likely remain open from four to six weeks.
"We have a strong run-size forecast for Columbia River spring chinook this year, so we will likely be able to sustain fishing into late May," Trump said.
The fishery will close when the Snake River harvest allocation is met or allowable impacts on wild stocks reach federal limits, he said.
The Columbia River forecast for 2015 totals 232,500 adult upriver spring Chinook, including 140,800 Snake River fish, of which 95,500 are hatchery fish. By comparison, last year's forecast anticipated a return of 125,000 Snake River spring Chinook, with 82,800 hatchery fish.
The daily catch limit for open areas is six hatchery chinook - marked by a clipped adipose fin - of which no more than one may be an adult Chinook salmon. Jacks are less than 24 inches long, and any chinook salmon measuring less than 12 inches must be released.
During these fisheries, possession limits will be increased to allow three daily limits of spring Chinook salmon in fresh form.
In all areas, anglers are required to use barbless hooks, and must stop fishing for the day when they reach their daily limit of adult hatchery Chinook salmon. All chinook with an adipose fin, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.
"Our ability to closely monitor this fishery, as required by federal permit, is due in large part to funds from the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement," said Trump. "Without the monitoring, we wouldn't be able to open this fishery."
The endorsement, required of all anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River system (which includes the Snake River), costs $8.75; seniors and youth pay $7.10.
The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 19 are:
Below Ice Harbor: Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam.
Below Lower Granite Dam: Snake River from the south shore boat launch (Ilia Boat Launch) across to the mouth of Almota Creek upstream about four miles to the restricted fishing area below Lower Granite Dam.
The sections of the Snake River scheduled to open April 23rd are:
Below Little Goose: Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river upstream from the mouth of the Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility).
Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the Washington/Idaho boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
Trump strongly encourages anglers to review the spring Chinook fishing rule change, posted on WDFW's website at fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
General fishing regulations for the Snake River, in effective through June 30, are available in the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/).
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