The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Fall fishing sees lower coho, chinook returns


August 3, 2017

Tribes, commercial gillnetters and sports anglers began fishing August 1 as the two-state Columbia River Compact met last week to set fishing times for the fall season.

Some 613,840 fall chinook are forecasted to return to the Columbia River, 96 percent of 2016’s actual return of 642,400 fish and 84 percent of the 10-year average (2007 – 2016). Of those, nearly 403,600 upriver chinook will pass Bonneville Dam, a run that is typically half done by September 9.

The forecast for coho salmon returning to the Columbia River is 319,300 fish, 93 percent of the 5-year average (2012 – 2016) of 344,500 fish. That includes an early run of 196,800 and a late run of 122,500. About 97,400 will pass Bonneville Dam this year, according to Fall Fact Sheet No. 1 prepared by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

Recreational anglers have been fishing for summer chinook since July 7 from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to the Highway 395 Bridge near Pasco at the Washington/Oregon border.

In a decision that had been made earlier in the year, beginning August 1, they may fish for fall chinook from Tongue Point upstream to Warrior Rock near St. Helens, Ore., until September 7 for any chinook, but the area will only be open for retention of hatchery chinook Sept. 8 - 14. From Warrior Rock upstream to Hwy. 395, chinook retention will be open all fall with a two fish/two chinook daily adult bag limit.

Also opening August 1 for chinook retention is the popular Buoy 10 fishery at the Columbia River mouth. It is expected to remain open through September 4, but will be closed for chinook retention Sept. 5 – 30.

As recreational angling for fall chinook opens in the Columbia River, the departments of fish and wildlife in Oregon and Idaho have closed chinook fishing in the Snake River canyon downstream of Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon Dam.

Idaho is also closing to chinook fishing the Little Salmon and Upper Salmon rivers on the same day because harvest objectives are being met or because the run has ended.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted on July 27 a fall chinook salmon fishing season to open August 18 on parts of the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers.

At its July 27 meeting in Ridgefield, the compact also set Treaty Indian commercial setline fishing for sturgeon in the John Day pool, commercial platform hook and line fishing for salmon, Yakama Nation commercial fishing in Columbia River tributaries and commercial platform and hook and line fishing for areas downstream of Bonneville Dam.

In addition, the Compact approved fall gillnetting in select areas of the lower Columbia River estuary.

While chinook and coho salmon runs are somewhat below average this year, upriver summer steelhead are arriving in record low numbers.

Some 119,400 A- and B-run steelhead are forecasted to pass Bonneville Dam, including 41,500 unclipped fish (34,100 wild). The 41,500 unclipped to 34,100 wild fish ratio reflects the typical proportion of unclipped hatchery fish in the run.

Restrictions on steelhead retention in the Columbia River basin is the biggest change for the 2017 fall season, according to ODFW.

Those restrictions include area-specific, 1-2 month steelhead retention closures and a one steelhead bag limit when retention is allowed, including a series of rolling closures that progress upriver following the steelhead return to reduce the take of both hatchery and wild fish.

ODFW and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife together set the rolling closure regulations.

All steelhead (hatchery and wild) must be released as follows:

-- Buoy 10 upstream to The Dalles Dam during Aug. 1-31

-- The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam during Sept. 1-30

-- John Day Dam upstream to McNary Dam during Sept. 1 - Oct. 31

-- McNary Dam upstream to Hwy. 395 during Oct. 1 – Nov. 30

Night angling is also prohibited except for registered anglers targeting Northern pikeminnow.

TAC will again begin to look at updating run sizes when it meets August 7. It will meet weekly through the fall season.

The compact approved four tribal fisheries:

--Treaty Indian commercial sturgeon setline for 6 a.m. Aug. 1, to 6 p.m., Aug. 12 in the John Day pool. Allowable remaining catch of 43 inch to 54 inch white sturgeon is 136 fish.

--Treaty fishery – Zone 6 commercial platform and hook and line for 12:01 a.m., Aug. 1, to 6 p.m., Oct. 31.

--Yakama Nation commercial fisheries – Zone 6 tributaries for 12:01 a.m., Aug. 1, to 6 p.m., Dec. 31 at Drano Lake and the Klickitat River.

--Treaty fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam: commercial platform and hook and line for 12:01 a.m., Aug. 1, to 11:59 p.m., Oct. 31.

Commercial gillnet off-channel select area fisheries approved by the compact are:

--Deep River: Monday through Thursday nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Aug. 21 - Sept. 1; Monday through Friday nights, 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., Sept. 4 – 23; and Monday through Thursday nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sept. 25 - Oct. 13.

--Blind Slough/Knappa Slough: Monday and Wednesday nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Aug. 28 – 31; Monday through Thursday nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sept. 4 - 8, and 6 p.m. to 10 a.m., Sept. 8 - Oct. 27.

--Tongue Point/South Channel: Monday and Wednesday nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Aug. 28 - 31; Monday through Thursday nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Sept. 4 – 8 and 6 p.m. to 10 a.m., Sept. 8 – 27.

--Youngs Bay: 7 p.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Thursday weekly Aug. 1 – 24; Monday through Wednesday, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Aug. 28 – 31; and 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4 to noon Tuesday, Oct. 31.


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