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NW Fishletter #394, June 3, 2019

[12] Poor Returns Means Reduced Fishing In Columbia Basin

Projections for low returns of Chinook, sockeye and steelhead will mean reduced fishing seasons, bag limits and some closures on the Columbia River this summer and fall.

Summer fishing will be limited to steelhead retention, a news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says. About 35,900 summer Chinook are predicted to return this year--the lowest since 2000 and too small to allow any nontribal harvest, the release said. Sockeye retention will also be prohibited due to the low returns.

This year's fall Chinook run is projected at 349,700--almost 20 percent higher than last year's return--and fishery managers are allowing an 8.25 percent harvest rate on the stock through a shorter fall retention season.

Upriver summer steelhead fishing will be limited to one fish daily, with some area steelhead retention closures. Those will include rolling one- to two-month closures starting in August and progressing upriver following the steelhead return. The closures include the mainstem Columbia and lower reaches of certain tributaries. More details are offered in the agency's news release.

Spring Chinook fishing has also been limited in the Columbia and Snake river basins. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game closed Chinook fishing in the Clearwater River basin in mid-May due to lower-than-expected returns throughout the basin. Fish managers predicted that hatcheries in the Clearwater will be about 300 fish short of their broodstock needs.

Spring Chinook fishing on the Snake, Wallowa and Imnaha rivers, and Lookingglass Creek remain closed due to low returns, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife news release said. Forecasts for spring Chinook returns passing Bonneville Dam were at 99,330 fish--half of the 10-year average.

"While ODFW makes every effort to offer opportunities to fish for these prized salmon, protecting wild stocks and meeting hatchery broodstock needs are a priority," the release said.

The agency said excessive dissolved gas levels in the Snake River in 2017 prevented fish managers from Oregon and Idaho from releasing juveniles below Hells Canyon Dam that year, which is contributing to the overall low returns. -K.C. Mehaffey

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NW Fishletter is produced by NewsData LLC.
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Mark Ohrenschall, Editor: K.C. Mehaffey
Phone: (206) 285-4848 Fax: (206) 281-8035

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