Chinook salmon returns to the Columbia River will be the lowest in almost a decade this summer.
As Oregon and Washington state fishery managers set seasons for the summer and fall, they had to balance below-average projections for a number of salmon stocks with what is expected to be a better run of coho.
Fall and summer fisheries will operate under another year of reduced seasons and bag limits and, in some cases, closures, state fishery managers announced Tuesday.
On the Columbia River, the summer fishing season will be limited to steelhead and coho retention. Anglers will not be able to keep steelhead — hatchery or wild — from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31. They will not be able to keep any Chinook or sockeye salmon during the summer fisheries.
Only 35,900 summer Chinook are forecast to return to the river, the lowest return since 2000 and, according to fishery managers, too small to allow harvest by nontreaty fisheries. Sockeye salmon retention is also off limits due to projected low escapement of fish to spawn.
The fall season, which starts on Aug. 1, is based around a projected return of 349,700 fall Chinook, higher than last year’s actual return of 293,400.
Upriver bright Chinook are also predicted to return in numbers higher than last year. But the allowed harvest rate on this stock is reduced, which means a shorter retention season for anglers hoping to bag fall Chinook.
“The reduced harvest rate for upriver bright fall Chinook has made it challenging to design fall recreational fisheries the last two years,” said John North, fisheries manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Columbia River program. “Working with the public in the recent season-setting process, we tried to balance opportunity with management constraints for fall Chinook and steelhead.”