PORTLAND – Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today set fishing seasons for 2012 on the lower Columbia River that anticipate a strong run of spring chinook salmon but a further decline in the number of white sturgeon available for harvest.
Most new fishing regulations adopted today will take effect March 1, when fishing for spring chinook and sturgeon starts to heat up on the lower Columbia. Until then, both fisheries are open on various sections of the river under rules approved last year.
This year’s spring chinook season is based on a projected return of 314,200 upriver fish to the Columbia River, which would be the fourth-largest on record. The sport fishery approved today is scheduled to run through April 6, but could be extended if enough fish are available for harvest.
Harvest guidelines adopted by the two states will allow anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam to catch and keep up to 14,500 hatchery-reared spring chinook before the run forecast is updated in May. Upriver fish bound for rivers above the dam are expected to make up the majority of the catch, but salmon returning to the Cowlitz, Lewis, Willamette and other rivers below Bonneville also contribute to the fishery.
Page 1 : 2012 Spring Chinook and Sturgeon Seasons Announced
Page 2 : 2012 spring chinook seasons
Page 3 : 2012 white sturgeon seasons
As in years past, only hatchery-reared spring chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin may be retained. Any unmarked wild spring chinook must be released unharmed.
Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said this year’s spring chinook fishery looks promising, especially compared to last season.
“Not only is the run forecast well above average, but fishing conditions should be a lot better than last year when anglers had to contend with weeks of high, turbid water,” LeFleur said.
But tighter catch guidelines for white sturgeon on the lower Columbia River will reduce fishing opportunities for that species for the third straight year. Responding to the continued decline of sturgeon abundance below Bonneville Dam in recent years, the two states adopted fishing regulations designed to reduce the catch by another 38 percent this year.
“This year’s sturgeon fishery will be opening later or closing earlier on various sections of the river,” LeFleur said. “Anglers should check this year’s fishing rules carefully before they head out.”
The new fishing regulations for white sturgeon and spring chinook salmon will be posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ by the end of the day Jan. 27.