Emergency Updates to Columbia River summer salmon fisheries


 

WDFW FISHING RULE CHANGE

 

Action: Updates Columbia River salmon seasons listed in the 2018-19 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet. Anglers must release all salmon.

Effective date: June 16.

Species affected: Salmon and steelhead.

Locations: Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.

Reason for action: Summer chinook and sockeye runs are projected to be significantly lower than in recent years. This emergency rule reflects co-manager agreements reached in April during the North of Falcon season-setting process.

Additional information:

Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco:

  • June 16 through June 30: daily limit 2 hatchery steelhead. Release all salmon.
  • July 1 through July 31: daily limit 1 hatchery steelhead. Salmon and steelhead night fishing closure. Release all salmon.

Hwy 395 Bridge at Pasco upstream to Priest Rapids Dam:

  • June 16 through August 15: Salmon and steelhead closed.

Information contact: Region 5, 360-696-6211; Region 3, 509-575-2740.

 


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Barbless hooks to become voluntary on much of Columbia River and tributaries


OLYMPIA – Anglers on a large portion of the Columbia River and many of its tributaries will no longer be required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead beginning June 1.

In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary for salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Due to Endangered Species Act permitting with NOAA, WDFW is unable to fully lift restrictions on barbed hooks in some areas at this time, including tributaries upstream of McNary Dam, including the Snake River.

Still, barbless hook requirements on salmon and steelhead fishing are being lifted across a broad swath of Washington waters, including the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam, and Columbia River tributaries from Buoy 10 to McNary Dam. Anglers fishing for sturgeon are still required to use barbless hooks.

The restriction on barbed hooks for salmon and steelhead will lift June 1 on the following waters:

A) Barbed hooks allowed for salmon and steelhead:

  1. Blue Creek (Lewis County), from the mouth to Spencer Road
  2. Cispus River (Lewis County)
  3. Columbia River, from a true north/south line through Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam
  4. Coweeman River and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  5. Cowlitz Falls Reservoir (Lake Scanewa) (Lewis County)
  6. Cowlitz River (Cowlitz County); Barbed hooks are also allowed for cutthroat trout in the Cowlitz River
  7. Drano Lake (Skamania County)
  8. Elochoman River (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Grays River, West Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  11. Kalama River (Cowlitz County)
  12. Klickitat River (Klickitat County)
  13. Lewis River (Clark County)
  14. Rock Creek (Skamania County)
  15. Tilton River (Lewis County)
  16. Toutle River (Cowlitz County)
  17. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County)
  18. Washougal River (Clark County)
  19. Washougal River, West (North) Fork (Clark/Skamania counties)
  20. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties)

B) Selective gear rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

  1. Abernathy Creek and tributaries (Cowlitz County)
  2. Cedar Creek and tributaries (tributary of N.F. Lewis) (Clark County)
  3. Coal Creek (Cowlitz County)
  4. Delameter Creek (Cowlitz County)
  5. Germany Creek (Cowlitz County) and all tributaries.
  6. Grays River (Wahkiakum County)
  7. Grays River, East Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  8. Grays River, South Fork (Wahkiakum County)
  9. Grays River, West Fork tributaries (Wahkiakum County)
  10. Green River (Cowlitz County)
  11. Hamilton Creek (Skamania County)
  12. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From 1,000 feet above fishway at upper salmon hatchery to Summers Creek and from the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads to 6600 Road bridge immediately downstream of Jacks Creek.
  13. Lacamas Creek (Clark County): From mouth to footbridge at lower falls.
  14. Lacamas Creek, tributary of Cowlitz River (Lewis County)
  15. Lewis River, East Fork (Clark/Skamania counties): From mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls.
  16. Little Washougal River (Clark County)
  17. Mill Creek (Cowlitz County)
  18. Mill Creek (Lewis County): From the mouth to the hatchery road crossing culvert.
  19. Olequa Creek (Lewis/Cowlitz counties)
  20. Outlet Creek (Silver Lake) (Cowlitz County)
  21. Salmon Creek (Clark County): From the mouth to 182nd Avenue Bridge.
  22. Salmon Creek (Lewis County)
  23. Skamokawa Creek (Wahkiakum County)
  24. Stillwater Creek (Lewis County)
  25. Swift Reservoir (Skamania County): From the posted markers approximately 3/8 mile below Eagle Cliff Bridge to the bridge; from the Saturday before Memorial Day through July 15.
  26. Toutle River, North Fork (Cowlitz County): From the mouth to the posted deadline below the fish collection facility.
  27. Wind River (Skamania County): from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to Moore Bridge.
  28. White Salmon River (Klickitat/Skamania counties): From the county road bridge below the former location of the powerhouse upstream to Big Brother Falls (river mile 16).

C) Fly fishing only rules still in effect; barbed hooks now allowed:

1. Kalama River (Cowlitz County): From Summers Creek to the intersection of 6000 and 6420 roads.

This rule will be reflected in the new Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet on July 1, 2019. Anglers are reminded to check the pamphlet for additional regulations and to learn more about selective gear and fly fishing rules. Anglers can also download the Fish Washington mobile app to see up-to-date regulations around the state. Visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app to learn more.

 

 


 

Invasive Northern Pick may threaten Columbia River salmon species


 

Northern pike are some of the most troubling aquatic invasive species in the Northwest. So far, they haven’t made it past Washington’s Lake Roosevelt. Two dams stand in their way. And lots of people trying to stop them.

If the fish make it past Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River, they could greatly harm imperiled salmon downstream.

“In a lot of ways, the fight to save the Columbia River as we know it is going to be won and lost on Lake Roosevelt,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council.

American Indian tribes are joining with the state and public utility districts in what’s being billed as the largest coordinated event of its kind in the state. The groups are working for a week to catch northern pike on the lake.

“We are at a critical moment in time where northern pike have not spread into salmon habitat,” said Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a statement. “If northern pike move downstream, the State of Washington will consider this an environmental emergency.”

Northern pike are non-native to the Northwest. They were illegally introduced here in the 1990s and have made their way down the Pend Oreille River into Lake Roosevelt.

They are extremely aggressive and can wipe out fish populations in waters where they aren’t native. In Alaska and California, northern pike have reduced some fish runs so much it’s effectively crashed fisheries, Bush said.

“Northern pike prey on fish that we value, such as trout, salmon and steelhead,” Bush said.

One problem is that Lake Roosevelt is so big (151 miles long) that it makes it hard for biologists to find and kill the invasive fish. Right now, the fish have been spotted about 12 miles from Grand Coulee Dam. That’s 90 miles from where anadromous fish are in the Columbia River, Bush said.

“There have been some new areas found to be colonized within Lake Roosevelt. I think we’re near seeing some really devastating effects within Lake Roosevelt,” Bush said.

In other areas that have faced northern pike problems, fishery communities have “totally flipped in terms of what was present,” Bush said.

Before the fish made it to Lake Roosevelt, they’d invaded the Pend Oreille River. Using gill nets placed in northern pike spawning grounds, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians was able to suppress the northern pike population in that river’s Box Canyon Reservoir.

Officials are asking anglers to report any northern pike they catch and turn them in for a bounty of $10 a head. Reports help biologists know where the fish are in Lake Roosevelt.

Keeping northern pike from reaching salmon habitat could risk billions of dollars that’s been invested in salmon and steelhead recovery, officials said.

“We have been cooperatively working to slow or stop the spread of northern pike, but realize they are poised to continue downstream,” said Dr. Brent Nichols, division director of the Spokane Tribe’s Fisheries and Water Resource Division. “One of the tools in our toolbox is this all-hands-on-deck approach, working with other partners who care about the Columbia River ecosystem.”

 


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Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement no longer required beginning July 1st


 

OLYMPIA – Anglers who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin will no longer be required to purchase an endorsement to do so beginning July 1.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has collected an $8.75 annual fee – known as the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement – from anglers to fish for salmon and steelhead in the region since 2010. The department has used revenue from the endorsement to monitor and enforce fisheries in the Columbia River Basin.

WDFW’s legislative authority to implement the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement ends June 30. Anglers are still required under state law to obtain an endorsement to fish for salmon or steelhead in the Columbia River until July 1. The department will not be issuing refunds as anglers have had opportunity to use the endorsement and it remains a state requirement through June 30.

A valid fishing license – a freshwater, combination, or Fish Washington license – is required at all times to fish the Columbia River. The agency is also working on modifying the Fish Washington license package, which includes the endorsement.

In order to have fisheries in waters such as the Columbia River where there are fish protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, WDFW is required to closely monitor those fisheries and enforce regulations.

The department is assessing how the loss of revenue from the endorsement will affect salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia basin once the endorsement expires, said Kelly Susewind, WDFW Director. That could mean changes to salmon and steelhead fisheries this fall and next spring.

“The endorsement provided needed funding for monitoring and enforcement activities,” Susewind said. “We’re evaluating our path forward with these fisheries, which not only provide good opportunities for anglers but also significant economic benefits to communities in the Columbia River Basin.”

WDFW had requested that the Legislature extend the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement through June 2023. However, the Legislature did not reauthorize the endorsement, allowing it to expire at the end of June.

WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

 

 


 

Third weekend opening planned for Columbia River spring chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam


 

OLYMPIA – For the third weekend in a row, a section of the lower Columbia River will reopen for two days of recreational spring chinook salmon fishing beginning Saturday, state fishery managers announced today.

The initial spring chinook fishing period from Bonneville Dam downriver to Warrior Rock closed at midnight Wednesday, April 10, then reopened for the weekends beginning April 13 and 20, based on catch and run estimates at that time.

High, turbid waters have created challenging fishing conditions for anglers, with difficult conditions likely to continue into early May. Fishery managers estimate that recreational harvest remains well below pre-season expectations. Fish counts at Bonneville Dam to date have also been below expectations.

“Water conditions have made fishing difficult in April, but we want to provide opportunity when we can,” said Bill Tweit, special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “These weekend openings offer that opportunity while allowing us to maintain a conservative approach to this important fishery.”

The fishery will reopen for spring chinook on April 27 and 28 on the Columbia River upstream from the Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock remains closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.

Anglers may retain two adult salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook. Only hatchery fish may be retained.

Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam remain open to salmon fishing through May 5.

Anglers are reminded that the use of barbless hooks is required when fishing for salmon and steelhead in these areas.

 


 

Another brief opening planned for Columbia River spring chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam

Photo courtesy of Portland Fishing Guide Buddy Dupell


 

OLYMPIA – A section of the lower Columbia River will again reopen for two days of recreational spring chinook salmon fishing beginning Saturday, April 20, state fishery managers announced today.

The initial spring chinook fishing period from Bonneville Dam downriver to Warrior Rock closed at midnight Wednesday, April 10, then reopened for two days on April 13 and 14 based on catch and run estimates at that time.

This weekend’s opening comes after fishery managers from Washington and Oregon evaluated additional information collected from the recreational fishery, said Bill Tweit, a special assistant with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Staff will continue to closely monitor the run as it progresses.

“With updated catch estimates still well below the expected harvest numbers, we feel comfortable reopening this section of river for another round of weekend fishing,” Tweit said. “Water levels are still high but are starting to stabilize, which may provide improved fishing opportunity.”

The fishery will reopen for spring chinook on April 20thand 21st on the Columbia River upstream from the Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock remains closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.

Anglers may retain one adult chinook and one adult steelhead, or two adult steelhead, per day. Only hatchery fish may be retained.

Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam remain open to salmon fishing through May 5th.

Anglers are reminded that the use of barbless hooks is required when fishing for salmon and steelhead in these areas.

 


 

Dam “Spill” Expected to Boost Columbia River Salmon and Benefit Orcas


 

More spring Chinook may return as adult salmon in a few years thanks to a new agreement negotiated by federal agencies, states, and tribes to test an innovative dam operation plan. Some estimates indicate that the new operation may produce an additional 10,000–60,000 adult spring Chinook per year.

While adult salmon returns will also be influenced by ocean conditions and river flows, the new “flexible spill” agreement just going into effect promises to be a “win-win” for fish, hydropower production, and orca.

Hydropower is the largest source of clean, low carbon energy in the Northwest. The new agreement aims to preserve the value of this clean energy resource while improving the status of Columbia basin salmon.

Washington entered into the “Flexible Spill Agreement” in December. The agreement will be in effect for the next two or three years (depending federal progress toward a longer-term Columbia-Snake River Biological Opinion). It increases spill (the amount of water going over a dam as opposed to through dam turbines) during the times of day when regional energy demand is lower, and ramps down spill to allow for more hydropower generation when demand is higher.

Taking advantage of this daily swing in demand — which is created in large part by the recent deployment of new clean energy sources like solar and wind — involves spilling at higher levels with higher Total Dissolved Gas (TDG) caps for up to 16 hours/day and lower 2014 BiOp levels for eight hours a day, when there is higher energy demand. The new levels of spill are intended to allow for higher survival for juvenile fish as they move through the dams and enter the ocean while keeping TDG levels low enough not to harm salmon or other aquatic species — an area of a recent study. The dams will spill up to 120% TDG in 2019 and up to 125% in 2020.

Washington (including WDFW) helped negotiate this agreement, which was signed by Washington, Oregon, three federal agencies (Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) and the Nez Perce Tribe. The agreement is also supported by Idaho, Montana, and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

The agreement should help salmon, protect Bonneville Power Administration revenues, and simplify river management for the Army Corps of Engineers. This strategy may set the stage for a longer-term dam operation strategy as well.

If they perform as expected, this change should provide meaningful near-term benefits for adult spring Chinook salmon numbers, and thereby increase food for southern resident killer whales.

 


 

Washington’s salmon fisheries set for 2019-2020

Photo courtesy of Columbia River Fishing Guide Buddy Dupell of Columbia River Fishing  Adventures


 

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. – Washington anglers can expect a mixed bag of salmon fisheries this year with increased coho opportunities in the ocean and the Columbia River, but additional necessary restrictions to protect chinook in Puget Sound.

The state’s 2019 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized today during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif.

This year’s fisheries were designed to take advantage of a higher number of coho salmon forecast to return to Washington’s waters as compared to recent years, said Kyle Adicks, salmon policy lead for WDFW. However, projected low returns of key chinook stocks in Puget Sound prompted fishery managers to restrict fisheries in Puget Sound.

“We’re able to provide more opportunities to fish for coho in some areas, particularly in the ocean and Columbia River, than we have been able to do for several years,” Adicks said. “But continued poor returns of some chinook stocks forced us to make difficult decisions for fisheries in Puget Sound this year.”

Puget Sound

Again in 2019, fishery managers projected another low return of Stillaguamish, Nooksack and mid-Hood Canal chinook and took steps to protect those stocks. Notable closures of popular fisheries include: the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) in August; Deception Pass and Port Gardner (areas 8-1 and 8-2) in December and January; and Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9) in January.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind acknowledged the reductions in Puget Sound salmon fisheries are difficult for both anglers and the local communities that depend on those fisheries.

“Reducing fisheries is not a long-term solution to the declining number of chinook salmon,” Susewind said. “The department will continue working with the co-managers, our constituents, and others to address habitat loss. Without improved habitat, our chinook populations will likely continue to decline.”

Limiting fisheries to meet conservation objectives for wild salmon indirectly benefits southern resident killer whales. The fishery adjustments will aid in minimizing boat presence and noise, and decrease competition for chinook and other salmon in these areas critical to the declining whales.

Anglers will also have limited opportunities to fish for pink salmon in Puget Sound due to projected low returns this year. There are no “bonus bag” limits for pink salmon in 2019.

Columbia River

The summer salmon fishery will be closed to summer chinook (including jacks) and sockeye retention due to low expected returns this year.

Fall salmon fisheries will be open under various regulations. Waters from Buoy 10 upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco will open to fall salmon fishing beginning Aug. 1.

“While we anticipate a robust coho fishery in the Columbia River this year, we’re taking steps to protect depleted runs of chinook and steelhead,” Adicks said.

Steelhead fisheries in the Columbia and Snake rivers this season will be similar to those in 2017, when a similarly low run was projected, he said.

Washington’s ocean waters

“We expect some good opportunities for fishing in the ocean this summer,” Adicks said.

For 2019, PFMC adopted a significantly higher quota for coho, and a similar quota for chinook compared to last year. All four of Washington’s marine areas will open daily beginning June 22.

More information

Notable changes to this year’s Puget Sound sport salmon fisheries can be found on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon, where information on recreational salmon fisheries in ocean waters and the Columbia River also is available.

 

 


 

Short reopening scheduled for Columbia River spring chinook fishery below Bonneville Dam

Photo courtesy of Columbia River Fishing Guide Buddy Dupell of Columbia River Fishing Adventures


 

OLYMPIA – A section of the lower Columbia River will reopen for recreational spring chinook fishing for two days beginning Saturday, April 13, state fishery managers announced.

The initial spring chinook fishing period from Bonneville Dam downriver to Warrior Rock ended at midnight Wednesday, April 10. But with less than half of the expected harvest of 3,689 upriver spring chinook salmon reeled in so far, additional opportunity remains available to anglers, and fishery managers from Washington and Oregon agreed to reopen the area to fishing for one more weekend from April 13th-14th.

“Given the low forecast, we’re closely monitoring this run,” said Bill Tweit, special assistant for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re going to meet our conservation objectives and work within our means to provide harvest opportunities.”

Tweit noted that cold spring temperatures and recent heavy rains may have also contributed to slow fishing in recent weeks.

The fishery will reopen for spring chinook over the weekend on the Columbia River upstream from the Warrior Rock boundary line to Bonneville Dam. The lower river downstream from Warrior Rock remains closed to fishing for salmon, steelhead, and shad.

Anglers may retain two adult salmon, two steelhead, or one of each per day, but only one salmon may be a chinook. Only hatchery fish may be retained.

Waters above Bonneville Dam to the Oregon/Washington state line above McNary Dam remain open to salmon fishing through May 5tht.

Anglers are reminded that the use of barbless hooks is required when fishing for salmon and steelhead in these areas.

 

 


 

John Day Pool closes for sturgeon retention


 

WDFW FISHING RULE CHANGE

 

Action: Anglers must release all sturgeon.

Effective dates: 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Species affected: White sturgeon

Locations: The Columbia River from John Day Dam to McNary Dam.

Reason for action: Fishing effort picked up over this past weekend resulting in catches much higher than expected. Harvest estimates indicate the quota of 105 white sturgeon has been reached. This measure is necessary to prevent further over-harvest of the population.

Additional information: Catch-and-release fishing for sturgeon will continue to be allowed.

Please see the 2018-2019 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for additional angling rules specific to the Columbia River.

Information contact: Region 5 office; 360-696-6211