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

Low returns mean less summer, fall fishing

 


Runs of Columbia River summer and fall chinook salmon, sockeye salmon and upriver steelhead are predicted to again have a poor year, but the forecasted run of coho will be higher than recent runs of the fish.

Oregon and Washington recently considered these relative run sizes when setting seasons and regulations for 2019 summer and fall fisheries. As a result, those fish with continued below average projections – summer and fall chinook, sockeye and upriver steelhead – will require another year of reduced seasons and bag limits, and in some cases closures, according to a May 14 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife news release.

Anglers’ time on the Columbia River this summer will be limited to just steelhead retention.

According to ODFW, the summer chinook forecast is just 35,900 fish returning to the Columbia and would be the lowest return since 2000. That’s too small to provide for directed harvest in non-treaty fisheries. Similar to 2018, sockeye retention will also be prohibited due to projected low escapement.

The fall seasons, which begin Aug. 1, will be much better with more angling opportunities. The projected return of fall chinook is 349,700, almost 20 percent higher than the actual return last year of 293,400. This year’s forecast includes 159,250 upriver bright chinook, compared to a return of 149,000 in 2018. The allowed harvest rate of 8.25 percent on this stock is down from 15 percent available during many recent years, resulting in shorter fall chinook retention seasons.

“The reduced harvest rate for upriver bright fall chinook has made it challenging to design fall recreational fisheries the last two years,” said John North, fisheries manager for ODFW’s Columbia River Program. “Working with the public in the recent season-setting process, we tried to balance opportunity with management constraints for fall chinook and steelhead.”

Because of the low projected returns for upriver summer steelhead, additional protective regulations are needed this fall including a one steelhead daily bag limit and area-specific steelhead retention closures, ODFW said.

The rolling 1 to 2 month closures start in August and progress upriver following the steelhead return to reduce take of both hatchery and wild fish. These closures affect the mainstem Columbia and the lower reaches of specific tributaries.

Specific regulations and closures include:

Summer Season (June 16 – July 31), Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to OR/WA border (upstream of McNary Dam):

Retention of chinook and sockeye prohibited.

Retention of hatchery steelhead allowed. The daily bag limit is two hatchery steelhead through June 30 and one hatchery steelhead July 1-31.

Night angling closure in effect.

Fall seasons (Aug. 1 – Dec. 31) Buoy 10

From the Buoy 10 line upstream to a line projected from Rocky Point on the Washington shore through red navigation buoy #44 to red navigation marker #2 at Tongue Point on the Oregon shore.

Aug. 1 – Dec. 31: Retention of adult hatchery coho (16-inches or longer) and hatchery steelhead allowed except all steelhead (hatchery and wild) must be released Aug. 1-31. Night angling closure in effect. All other permanent rules apply.

Daily bag limits by time period:

Aug. 1 – Aug. 20: Retention of adult chinook (longer than 24-inches) allowed. The daily bag limit is two adult salmonids (chinook and hatchery coho only), and may include up to one chinook. All steelhead must be released.

Aug. 21 – Aug. 31: Retention of all chinook and all steelhead prohibited. The daily bag limit is two adult hatchery coho.

Sept. 1 – Sept. 30: Retention of all chinook prohibited. The daily bag limit is two adult hatchery salmonids (coho and steelhead only), and may include up to one hatchery steelhead.

Oct. 1 – Dec. 31: Retention of all chinook prohibited. The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery salmonids (coho and steelhead only), and may include up to one hatchery steelhead. Hatchery coho jacks may be retained.

Lower Columbia: Tongue Point/Rocky Point upstream to west Puget Island:

From a line projected from Rocky Point on the Washington shore through red navigation buoy #44 to the red navigation marker #2 at Tongue Point on the Oregon shore upstream to a line at the west end of Puget Island extending from green navigation marker #39 on the Washington shore to green navigation marker #41, then to red navigation marker #42, and terminating at red navigation marker #44A on the Oregon shore.

Aug. 1 – December 31: Retention of adult hatchery coho (longer than 20-inches), and hatchery steelhead allowed except all steelhead (hatchery and wild) must be released August 1-31. Hatchery coho jacks may be retained. Each legal angler aboard a vessel may continue to deploy angling gear until the daily adult salmonid bag limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. Night angling closure in effect. All other permanent rules apply.

Daily adult bag limits by time period:

Aug. 1 – Aug. 20: Retention of adult (longer than 24-inches) and jack chinook allowed. The daily adult bag limit is one salmonid (chinook and hatchery coho only). All steelhead must be released.

Aug. 21 – Aug. 31: Retention of all chinook and all steelhead prohibited. The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery coho.

Sept. 1 – Dec. 31: Retention of all chinook prohibited. The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery salmonids (coho and steelhead only) and may include up to one hatchery steelhead.

Lower Columbia: West Puget Island upstream to Warrior Rock/Bachelor Island:

From a line at the west end of Puget Island extending from green navigation marker #39 on the Washington shore to green navigation marker #41, then to red navigation marker #42, and terminating at red navigation marker #44A on the Oregon shore upstream to a line projected from the Warrior Rock Lighthouse on the Oregon shore to red navigation buoy #4, then to the piling dolphin on the lower end of Bachelor Island.

Aug. 1 – Dec. 31: Retention of adult hatchery coho (longer than 20-inches), and hatchery steelhead allowed except all steelhead (hatchery and wild) must be released Aug. 1-31. Hatchery coho jacks may be retained. Each legal angler aboard a vessel may continue to deploy angling gear until the daily adult salmonid bag limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved. Night angling closure in effect. All other permanent rules apply.

Daily adult bag limits by time period are:

Aug. 1 – Aug. 27: Retention of adult (longer than 24-inches) and jack chinook allowed. The daily adult bag limit is one salmonid (chinook and hatchery coho only). All steelhead must be released.

Aug. 28 – Aug. 31: Retention of all chinook and all steelhead prohibited. The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery coho.

Sept. 1 – Dec. 31: Retention of all chinook prohibited. The daily adult bag limit is two hatchery salmonids (coho and steelhead only) and may include up to one hatchery steelhead.

 

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