Oregon, Washington Close Columbia River Spring Chinook Season

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The departments of fish and wildlife from Oregon and Washington declined to set additional time for spring Chinook salmon fishing on the mainstem Columbia River.

In a public hearing on May 20, fisheries managers from the two states were presented information on the current status of upriver spring Chinook and fisheries to date. Although sufficient ESA impacts to wild spring Chinook were available to allow for the consideration of additional mainstem recreational and commercial spring Chinook fishing opportunity, there were also concerns about hatcheries throughout the interior basin being able to meet broodstock collection targets. After being presented with this information, and hearing public testimony from recreational and commercial interests which overwhelming supported keeping fisheries closed, managers decided not to set additional fishing time.

Preseason, the 2020 upriver spring Chinook return was forecasted to be very poor, and in-season information is showing that is the case. On May 18, the run was downgraded by 12 percent to 72,000 Chinook adults. While this forecast is within management buffers applied by managers, this would be the lowest return since 1999, and significant concerns about the overall return and brood stock collection efforts remain.

“With an already depressed run and broodstock concerns where they are, I’m ready to err on the side of the fish and not set additional spring Chinook salmon fishing seasons on the Columbia,” said Tucker Jones, manager of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Columbia River and Ocean Salmon Program, adding, “sometimes the best action is no action.”

Recreational steelhead and shad fishing remain open on portions of the Columbia under permanent rules, and the fishery managers again made a plea to anglers to stay close to home, to observe social-distancing, avoid crowding and maintain sanitary conditions.

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