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South Central Washington Sponsored by
Date 02-May-15
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Conditions : South Central Washington: Two sections of the Yakima River will open to fishing for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon on successive weeks in May, while anglers continue to cast for springers on four sections of the Snake River.

Starting Saturday, May 2, the lower Yakima River will open for hatchery spring chinook fishing from the Highway 240 bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue bridge in Prosser approximately 1,000 feet downstream of Prosser Dam.

On Saturday, May 9, the upper section of the river will open for hatchery chinook from the Interstate 82 bridge at Union Gap to the BNSF railroad bridge approximately 600 feet downstream of Roza Dam.

The lower river is expected to remain open for spring chinook through June 15, while fishing in the upper section will likely continue through June 30, said Eric Anderson, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) based in Yakima.

Anderson said fishery managers are predicting a return of 3,900 harvestable spring chinook to the Yakima River, mostly four-year-old fish.

“Anglers catch the lion’s share of the springers in the upper river around Roza Dam, but we’re adding some additional opportunity in the lower river again this year,” he said.

Like last year, 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 I-182 bridge to the Highway 240 bridge, Anderson said.

“We’ll be interested to see how anglers do that far down in the estuary,” he said. “Fishing in that area will be closely monitored, because it’s critical that fishers don’t drift downstream of the Highway 240 bridge and start fishing in the Columbia River.”

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

Bait is allowed, but anglers will be required to use single-point, barbless hooks with a hook gap from point to shank of 3/4 inch or less when fishing for salmon.

To participate in the fishery, anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement (CRSSE), along with a valid fishing license. Anglers also have the option of purchasing a “two-pole endorsement” and fishing with two poles during the fishery.

Meanwhile, four sections of the Snake River remain open to fishing for spring chinook salmon three days a week. Below Ice Harbor Dam and the Lower Granite Dam the fishery is open on a Sunday-through-Tuesday schedule until further notice. Farther upriver, fishing is open on a Thursday-through-Saturday schedule below Little Goose Dam and near Clarkston.

Trout are another option. Waters scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout this month include Cooper Lake, Easton Ponds, Clear Lake, Lost Lake, McCabe Pond and Columbia Park Pond.

The 14th annual Kids Fishing event will be held at Columbia Park Pond in Kennewick on Saturday, May 10. All youths must pre-register at Kennewick Parks and Recreation to attend.

As of late April, anglers could still catch and keep legal-size sturgeon in Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam to McNary Dam), but that fishery will close as soon as the 500-fish quota for those waters is reached. Anglers planning to fish the lake should keep an eye on the WDFW website for possible updates. Farther upriver, the retention fishery for white sturgeon above McNary Dam (Lake Wallula) is scheduled to run through July 31.

In both areas, anglers may retain only those white sturgeon that measure between 43 inches and 54 inches when measured from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Sturgeon spawning sanctuaries below Priest Rapids Dam and Ice Harbor Dam close to all sturgeon fishing (both harvest and catch-and-release) beginning May 1. They reopen for catch-and-release fishing on Aug. 1.

Rather catch warm-water fish? Catch rates should continue to improve on area rivers for smallmouth bass, channel catfish and walleye right through spring.

Anglers age 15 or older are reminded that they must purchase a 2015-16 license to fish state waters. Those who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries are also required to purchase an endorsement that helps maintain and improve fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

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