Season now open for spring chinook
March 4, 2021
Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Feb. 23 approved this year’s spring Chinook angling season for the lower Columbia River, with low returns expected to once again impact recreational fishing.
The 2021 forecast for upriver spring Chinook numbers just 75,200 fish, which would be the second-lowest return in the past 20 years, and lower than the 81,300 fish that returned last year.
While the projected return is only about 6,000 fish fewer than 2020, the forecast numbers trigger tighter restrictions meant to protect salmon runs listed under the Endangered Species Act. Unlike 2020, the lower river is largely open for spring Chinook fishing thanks to higher projected returns to several lower-river tributaries. The Cowlitz River is expected to see an 1,800 Chinook return in 2021, nearly double last year’s actual return, while the Lewis River is expected to see 2,300 fish return, almost 450 more than in 2020.
The river will be open for the following dates and locations:
March 1 through April 4: From Buoy 10 line upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), plus bank angling by hand-cast only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.
Salmonid angling from a boat is prohibited in an area adjacent to the Cowlitz River mouth, including all of Carrolls Channel. The daily catch limit is six fish, including no more than two adults, of which no more than one may be an adult chinook.
Anglers must release all wild steelhead and all salmon other than hatchery chinook. Salmon minimum size 12 inches. Shad retention is also permitted with no minimum size or daily limit.
From March 16 through May 5, fishing is allowed from the Tower Island power lines (approximately six miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, plus bank angling by hand-cast only between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines.