Fishing for spring chinook will be open from March 16 to May 5 for an initial season on the Columbia River between Bonneville Dam and the border between Washington and Oregon east of Umatilla, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
But officials caution that river conditions could pose a challenge. The Columbia River is running high and off-color now with a substantial snow pack remaining in the Cascade Range, said Ron Roler, a fish manager for the department.
“Boat anglers, in particular, have a hard time catching fish when the river is running high and dirty, and personal safety has to be everyone’s first priority,” he said.
The spring chinook returns above Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River are expected to be lower than normal, according to the department.
Under the preseason forecast, about 160,400 spring chinook are expected above the Bonneville Dam, which is about 80 percent of the 10 year forecast.
However, the percentage of allowable catch allocated to sport fishing has been increased, with a corresponding decrease for commercial fishing.
Sport fishing has been allocated 80 percent, up from 70 percent in previous years based on policies recently adopted by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions.
The limit is either two steelhead or one steelhead and one hatchery-reared adult chinook salmon. Any chinook or steelhead without a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar must be released unharmed.