Snake River spring chinook fishery will get under way Sunday, April 19

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OLYMPIA – 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 19. Two other sections of the river – below Little Goose Dam and Clarkston – will open Thursday, April 23.

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 23 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 https://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 ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ).

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Nisqually River reopens to retention of hatchery chinook salmon

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Action: Retention of hatchery chinook salmon is permitted. Salmon fishing is open at the mouth of Kalama and Clear creeks.

Effective dates: Oct. 15, 2014, through Jan. 31, 2015.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Downstream of Military Tank Crossing Bridge and at the mouth of Kalama and Clear Creeks.

Reasons for action: Egg-take goals have been met at the Nisqually River fall chinook hatcheries. In order to meet conservation goals, anglers are required to release wild chinook and wild steelhead.

Other information: Regulations on the Nisqually River now allow for the retention of hatchery chinook salmon as described by the sportfishing rules pamphlet. Effective immediately through Oct. 31: Up to 3 adults may be retained of which only 2 may be any combination of coho and chum. Nov. 1-Jan. 31: Up to 2 adults may be retained. Release wild chinook salmon.

Information Contact: James P. Losee (360) 902-2741, james.losee@dfw.wa.gov .

Anglers can keep two Chinook off Westport beginning Aug. 18

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Kirk Calkins and friends with a nice mixed bag of kings and silvers from Westport Saturday morning.

OLYMPIA – Starting Monday, Aug. 18, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days per week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Ron Warren, fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the previous daily limit of one chinook off Westport was designed to ensure the fishery would remain open the entire season.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the pace of catch in the area,” Warren said. “With sufficient quota remaining, we want to maximize the recreational fishing opportunity through the rest of the season.”

Ocean salmon fisheries are scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2 and through Sept. 21 in marine areas 3 and 4. However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_saltwater.j .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and catch guidelines, is available in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Tom Weaver with a beautiful Westport king salmon

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Sockeye salmon retention begins in Lake Osoyoos

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Action: Anglers will be able to retain adult sockeye salmon in Lake Osoyoos

Effective dates: July 11 through Oct. 15, 2014

Location: Lake Osoyoos south of the 49th parallel (US-Canadian border, which is marked with large fluorescent orange signs)

Species affected: Sockeye salmon

Reason for action: Sockeye salmon returns above Zosel Dam are predicted to be in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The population is not listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Other rules: Minimum size 12 inches. Daily limit is six sockeye salmon. Release all other salmon. Statewide freshwater gear rules apply. From July 11 through Aug. 31, 2014, anglers may fish with two poles with a Two-Pole endorsement. Release all sockeye with colored anchor (floy) tag attached.

Information contacts: Jeff Korth, Region Two Fish Program Manager, Ephrata, (509) 754-4624, ext 224 and Ryan Fortier, District Six Fish Biologist, Twisp (509) 997-0316.

OTHER ANGLER INFORMATION:

All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in this fishery. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

Check the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_freshwater.j .

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Fishing heats up in July for Salmon, Steelhead and Dungeness Crab!

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Summer fishing seasons are now in full swing, requiring anglers to make some tough decisions about how to spend their time on the water. Salmon, steelhead, crab, as well as trout, bass and walleye – all are now available for harvest in various waters around the state.

But for thousands of anglers, nothing beats the thrill of reeling in a big, feisty salmon. Many are doing just that as waves of chinook move south along the Washington coast, then east into Puget Sound, coastal streams and the Columbia River.

“With strong salmon runs predicted for the Columbia River this year, ocean fishing is likely to remain productive through the summer,” said Wendy Beeghley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fisheries biologist for the coastal region.

Several marine areas of Puget Sound open to salmon fishing July 1, joining other salmon fisheries already in progress. Some westside rivers, including the Bogacheil, Calawah and Nisqually, also open for salmon fishing that day, and Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye salmon July 10.

Summer steelhead are another option – notably in the Columbia River and many of its tributaries – where 281,000 adult fish are expected to move upriver in the coming weeks. As always, anglers are required to release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in the fishery, which extends from the mouth of the Columbia to the Canadian Border.

Fishing regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available from sporting goods stores and posted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Rather catch some crab? All but one marine area in Puget Sound will be open for crab fishing beginning July 3. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 17 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia). See http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ for all crab-fishing rules.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take precautions to avoid sparking a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in most WDFW forested areas

Washington and Oregon agree to add another month to lower Columbia Chinook season

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An improved outlook for the number of upriver spring Chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River prompted fishery managers from Oregon and Washington to reopen the recreational fishing season below Bonneville Dam for another month.

Spring Chinook fishing will reopen on the lower Columbia from Thursday, May 15 through Sunday, June 15 under rules adopted today during a joint state hearing of fish and wildlife officials from the two states.

The joint state action is based on a revised estimate of salmon returns issued on Monday by the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which adjusted its expected return of upriver Chinook to 224,000 fish, up from the previous estimate of a minimum 185,000 upriver fish.

“We’re pleased to see these additional fish moving into the Columbia, and the opportunity this creates to provide an extended period of recreational salmon fishing,” said John North, ODFW’s Columbia River Program manager. “This is the scenario we were hoping for and we’re glad to see it materialize.”

This is the fourth time this year that fishery managers have extended the spring Chinook season in response to updated information about fish passage and angler success rates. The most recent reopening took place May 9-10.

Under the rules approved at today’s hearing, the season opens to both boat and bank fishing from Tongue Point upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline. The bag limit is two adult adipose fin-clipped salmonids (salmon or steelhead) per day, of which only one may be a Chinook. Shad and adipose fin-clipped jack Chinook may also be kept. All sockeye salmon must be released unharmed.

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Upper section of Yakima River to open for hatchery spring chinook fishing May 17

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OLYMPIA – With the spring chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River just getting under way, a section of the river farther upstream will open to fishing May 17 from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

Spring chinook are now moving into the lower river in increasing numbers, and should provide fishing opportunities in the upper river when that area opens for fishing, said John Easterbrooks, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Easterbrooks noted that 502 adult spring chinook salmon had been counted at Prosser Dam as of May 7 – a large portion of which were wild fish, typically more numerous early in the run. The first chinook crossed Roza Dam 80 miles upriver on May 5.

In all, an estimated 3,350 adult hatchery spring chinook salmon are predicted to return to the Yakima River this year.

“The lion’s share of the catch generally comes from the upper river below Roza Dam, although we did expand fishing opportunity in the lower river this year,” Easterbrooks said.

He noted that this year’s rules add 2.4 miles of fishable water near the mouth of the Yakima River by moving the lower boundary of the fishery downriver from the Interstate 182 bridge to the Highway 240 bridge.

Anglers fishing the Yakima River have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook, identifiable by a clipped adipose fin. All wild salmon and steelhead must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water prior to release.

To participate in the fishery, anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, along with a valid fishing license. Revenues from the CRSSE will be used to fund fishery monitoring and law enforcement. Anglers also have the option of purchasing a “two-pole endorsement” and fishing with two poles.

Endorsement revenues will also be used to fund the third and final year of a hooking mortality study below Roza Dam. With assistance from the Yakama Nation, a WDFW research team plans to radio-tag up to 150 wild spring chinook that have been hooked, played and released.

“Anglers who hook a salmon may be approached by a scientific technician as they play the fish,” Easterbrooks said. “If it’s a wild salmon with an intact adipose fin, the technician will assist in unhooking and releasing the fish after tagging it. The technician will also record the amount of time the fish was played, the hooking location, the condition of the fish and other relevant data.”

The technicians will also be fishing for the study, and will release all fish they catch once the fish have been tagged.

“We would appreciate anglers’ cooperation as we work to refine estimates that play a key role in managing fisheries,” Easterbrooks said. “Accurate estimates of hooking mortality are especially important in fisheries where WDFW must avoid exceeding impact limits on listed salmon stocks prescribed in fishery permits issued by NOAA-Fisheries.”

Easterbrooks also asks for anglers’ cooperation in helping to maintain walk-in access to fishing areas on both sides of the river below Roza Dam. That access includes:

  • Passage across Roza Dam to the popular fishing area downstream from the railroad bridge boundary on the west bank.
  • The trail across private property accessed from the “Roza Cut” parking area at the top of the hill on the Yakima Canyon Hwy (SR 821), which is used by anglers to access fishing sites on the east river bank below the railroad bridge.

WDFW asks that anglers observe some basic rules established by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns Roza Dam:

  • Passage across the dam is limited to walk-in access to the stairway on the west bank of the river and only during the salmon fishery. Rules prohibit crossing the Roza Canal at the west end of the dam and using the railroad bridges over Roza Canal and the Yakima River to access the fishing areas on both banks. Anglers can access both sides of the river by walking under the bridge next to the abutments to access the fishing areas downstream.
  • Anglers are asked to park in the designated areas on the right side of the Roza Dam Access Road, not on private property on the left side of the road.
  • Trash dumpsters have been placed in parking areas at the Roza Cut and Roza Dam Access Road, and next to the Roza adult fish trapping facility. Anglers are asked to carry a trash bag and deposit their trash – along with any they find along the trail – in the dumpsters.
  • Anglers are also asked to use the three portable toilets provided at the Roza Cut and access road parking areas and on the dam near the west bank stairway.

“Public access across Roza Dam and adjacent private property is a privilege, not a right,” Easterbrooks said. “We’re asking anglers to do everything they can to make sure these two critical access points remain open for their use. Any damage or misuse of federal or private property could result in termination of the privilege for everyone during this year’s fishery and could reduce access to this important salmon fishing area in future years.”

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Big runs of Columbia River Chinook, Coho highlight 2014 Salmon forecasts

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OLYMPIA – Salmon fishing in the ocean and the Columbia River this summer could be great thanks to an abundant run of hatchery coho and a potentially historic return of chinook, according to state fishery managers.

Opportunities for anglers also look good in Puget Sound, where another strong run of coho salmon is expected this year.

The forecasts – developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian tribes – for chinook, coho, sockeye and chum salmon were released at a public meeting in Olympia today, marking the starting point for developing 2014 salmon-fishing seasons.

Ron Warren, fisheries policy lead for WDFW, said protecting and restoring weak wild salmon populations will continue to be the top priority as fishery managers develop salmon seasons.

“It’s early in the process, but these forecasts point to an exciting summer of salmon fishing,” Warren said. “We look forward to working with our tribal co-managers and constituents to establish fishing opportunities on abundant runs of hatchery salmon while ensuring we meet our conservation goals for wild fish populations.”

This year’s forecasts include a return of more than 1.6 million Columbia River fall chinook salmon – which would be the largest since record-keeping began in 1938. A return of nearly 1 million Columbia River coho salmon is expected back this summer as well.

“This certainly could be a banner year for summer salmon fisheries, particularly off the Washington coast and in the Columbia River,” Warren said.

As in past years, salmon-fishing prospects in 2014 vary by area:

Columbia River: Of the 1.6 million fall chinook expected to return to the Columbia River this season, nearly 86 percent of those fish are “bright” stocks. Those fish, most of which are destined for areas above Bonneville Dam, are the foundation of the in-river recreational salmon fishery.
If that run comes in as forecast, the total number of brights would exceed last year’s entire Columbia River run of 1.2 million chinook salmon. Additionally, the ocean abundance of Columbia River coho is forecast to be about 964,000 fish, three times as many fish as last year’s actual abundance.

Washington’s ocean waters: The strong return of Columbia River salmon should also boost fisheries in the ocean this year.
About 225,000 lower river hatchery chinook are expected back this season, 35,000 more fish than last year’s return. Those salmon, known as “tules,” are the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

The abundant coho salmon return projected for the Columbia River will contribute to fisheries off the coast of Washington as well, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fishery manager for WDFW.

“This is the first time in more than a decade we have had exceptionally strong forecasts for chinook and coho in the same year,” Milward said. “That’s good news for anglers because those abundant runs could result in higher catch quotas for both species this summer in the ocean.”

Puget Sound: Summer/fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total nearly 283,000 fish, slightly higher than last year’s forecast. Most chinook fisheries in Puget Sound, where hatchery chinook make up the bulk of the returning fish, will be similar to last year, said Ryan Lothrop, recreational fishery manager for WDFW.
A strong run of coho salmon is expected back to Puget Sound as well. Nearly 873,000 coho are forecast to return to the Sound’s streams, similar to last year’s projection. Lothrop said bright spots for coho include the Nisqually, Skokomish, Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish rivers, as well as Lake Washington and the marine waters of mid- and south Puget Sound.

A nother bright spot is Baker Lake, where an abundant sockeye return of 35,000 salmon is expected back this year. Fishery managers will once again consider sockeye fisheries in Baker Lake and the Skagit River, Lothrop said.

A nother possibility is bonus bag limits for sockeye during summer salmon fisheries in marine areas around the San Juan Islands and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “About 23 million sockeye salmon are forecast to return to Canada’s Fraser River this year, and a portion of those fish will make their way through those marine areas,” Lothrop said.

However, a sockeye fishery in Lake Washington is unlikely this year, Lothrop said. The sockeye forecast is about 167,000, well below the minimum return of 350,000 sockeye needed to consider opening a recreational fishery in the lake.

State, tribal and federal fishery managers will meet March 8-13 in Sacramento with the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) to develop options for this year’s commercial and recreational ocean chinook and coho salmon fisheries. The PFMC establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

Additional public meetings have been scheduled through March to discuss regional fishery issues. Input from these regional discussions will be considered as the season-setting process moves into the “North of Falcon” and PFMC meetings, which will determine the final 2014 salmon seasons.

The PFMC is expected to adopt final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 5-10 meeting in Vancouver, Wash. The 2014 salmon fisheries package for Washington’s inside waters will be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the PFMC’s April meeting.

A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts and information about the salmon season-setting process are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/

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