The popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery began Wednesday on the Columbia River with modest fish run forecasts, new regulations and an effort to build the fishery up over time in upstream sections of the main stem.
Forecasters expect 375,500 adult Chinook salmon to enter the Columbia this fall, about 80 percent of last year’s return and half the recent 10-year average.
An estimated 213,600 adult coho salmon are expected to enter the river mouth, versus last year’s return of 235,700. An estimated 182,400 steelhead are expected upstream.
John North, an ocean salmon and Columbia program manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the reduced runs are mostly based on warm ocean conditions. Warm river conditions affecting outward-migrating salmon in 2015 might have also affected those returning this year, he said.
The lower forecasts have led to a reduced bag limit to keep the season open longer. Only one adult Chinook, coho or steelhead may be caught per day through Aug. 24, after which all retention of Chinook in the Buoy 10 area closes. The lower bag limit was part of a balance to keep the season open longer based on expected catches, North said.
Starting Aug. 25, the catch limit expands to two hatchery coho or steelhead per day. Only one hatchery steelhead per day may be caught through Dec. 31 for all main stem recreational Columbia fisheries.
“All the fisheries up and down the river had to be reduced, so we tried to make it proportional,” North said.
Retention of one Chinook per day will be allowed from Tongue Point upstream to Warrior Rock near St. Helens through Sept. 2. Starting Sept. 3, up to two hatchery coho or steelhead per day can be caught, including one hatchery steelhead.
One Chinook may be caught daily from Warrior Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam through Sept. 14. Beginning Sept. 15, the daily limit is up to two hatchery coho or steelhead, including one hatchery steelhead.
During all fall Columbia fisheries this year upstream to the Oregon-Washington state border near McNary Dam, each legal angler aboard a vessel may continue to deploy gear until the daily adult salmon limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved.
A complete summary of regulations can be found at tinyurl.com/Columbiafishing