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  • Washington Outdoor News

    Sections of the Snake River will open for spring chinook fishing
    Location: Washington

    SPOKANE - Four sections of the Snake River in southeast Washington will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon this month, starting April 20 with the stretch below Ice Harbor Dam.

    Three other sections of the river, near Little Goose Dam, Lower Granite Dam and Clarkston, will open April 25.

    The daily catch limit for most of the open areas is two hatchery-reared adult chinook - marked with a clipped adipose fin - and four hatchery jacks measuring less than 24 inches.

    The exception is the area along the south shoreline of the Little Goose Dam (including "the wall") upstream to the juvenile-bypass return pipe, where anglers may retain only one adult chinook salmon and one hatchery jack per day.

    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 chinook salmon. All chinook with the adipose fin intact, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed.

    John Whalen, eastern regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the fishery below Ice Harbor Dam is tentatively scheduled to remain open through May 24 - and through May 31 in the other areas - but may close earlier if impacts on wild stocks reach federal limits.

    "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," Whalen said. "Without the monitoring, we wouldnt 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 $8.25; seniors and youth pay $6.60.

    A total of 168,000 spring chinook salmon are expected to return to the Snake River Basin this year, including 129,000 hatchery fish. Last years forecast anticipated a return of 194,000 spring chinook, but only 66,000 hatchery fish.

    The section of the Snake River scheduled to open April 20 below Ice Harbor Dam extends from the Highway 12 bridge at Pasco upstream about seven miles to about 400 feet below the dam.

    The three sections of the river scheduled to open April 25 are:

    Near Little Goose Dam: From the railroad bridge approximately a half-mile downstream from the mouth of the Tucannon River, upriver to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam, and from Little Goose Dam to the Corps of Engineers boat launch approximately one mile upstream of Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility.

    Below Lower Granite Dam: From Casey Creek Canyon Road in Garfield County (located about six miles downstream of Lower Granite Dam) to about 400 feet below Lower Granite Dam.

    Near Clarkston: From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Idaho state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Idaho/Washington marker on the north shore.

    Whalen strongly encourages anglers to review regulations specific to each area, posted on WDFWs website at . General fishing regulations for the Snake River effective through April 30 are available in the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet ( ). The new sport fishing rules pamphlet for 2012-13 will be available in stores and online May 1.

    Anglers get at least 6 more days to catch chinook on lower Columbia

    OLYMPIA - The sport fishery for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River has been extended through April 13 to allow anglers to catch thousands more hatchery-reared fish available for harvest.

    Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today approved a six-day extension, based on catch reports that show current harvest levels are well below expectations. The fishery was initially scheduled to close at the end of the day Friday, April 6.

    During the extended fishing period, the sport fishery will be closed Tuesday, April 10 to accommodate a one-day opening for commercial fishing during the extension period.

    Fishery managers will meet again April 12 to determine whether to allow additional fishing time.

    With the lower Columbia running high, cold and muddy in recent weeks, the state’s earliest salmon run has been slow to enter the river, said Cindy Le Fleur, Columbia River policy manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

    "Like last year, poor river conditions have delayed the run and put a damper on catch rates," Le Fleur said. "The extension will give anglers a few more days to catch some fish, before the first phase of the fishery comes to a close."

    The extension approved today does not affect spring chinook fisheries under way above Bonneville Dam.

    Anglers fishing downriver from the dam may retain one marked, adult hatchery chinook per day. All wild chinook salmon must be released immediately.

    Through April 6, the catch of hatchery spring chinook by anglers fishing below the dam is projected to reach 1,796 fish - well below the 14,500 spring chinook available for harvest before the run forecast is updated in May. Only about 1,163 of the catch through April 6 are expected to count toward the 12,700-fish harvest guideline for upriver fish.

    Despite those catch deficits, Le Fleur said it is too soon to reassess this year’s pre-season forecast, which anticipated a return of 314,200 upriver spring chinook - potentially the fourth-largest run on record.

    "We’ve been here before," Le Fleur said. "If history is any guide, the fishery will pick up very quickly once river conditions improve."

    Along with the six additional fishing days in April, lower-river anglers could get another chance to catch spring chinook in May, once fishery managers update the run forecast.

    To guard against overestimating this year’s run, Le Fleur said the states are managing spring chinook fisheries with a 30 percent buffer until the May update.

    News Source: Washington DFW - Apr. 07, 2012

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