Opening of the entire Columbia River to salmon fishing on Saturday

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Salmon fishing will reopen on Saturday throughout the lower Columbia, from the Bonneville Dam downstream to the mouth of the river.

Washington and Oregon fisheries officials made the decision on Wednesday.

The daily bag limit at Buoy 10 – the lower 16 miles of the Columbia below Tongue Point near Astoria – will be three salmon, but only one chinook. Any chinook — hatchery or wild — can be kept as well as hatchery coho.

From Tongue Point to Bonneville Dam, the river will be open to all Chinook salmon – hatchery or wild – as well as hatchery coho. The daily bag limit will be two adult salmon, but only one chinook.

Ryan Lothrop of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said about 2,200 chinook are expected to be caught between Saturday and the end of 2022.

Angling was closed Sept. 2-14 in the Columbia, from Bonneville to the mouth of the river near Ilwaco, after an unexpectedly high catch of tule strain fall chinook from wild stock occurred in the buoy 10 fishery.

Angling reopened in two areas – at Buoy 10 and in a stretch of the Columbia between the eastern tip of Reed Island near Washougal and Bonneville Dam – on September 15.

This reopening was allowed because the tule fall wild chinook in need of protection mostly left buoy 10 by mid-September and are not migrating much upstream from the mouths of the Washougal and Sandy rivers.

Wild fall chinook from the lower Columbia tule are considered out of the main river and into their spawning tributaries by October 1, no longer requiring closure.

Fall chinook counts at Bonneville Dam have dropped to less than 3,000 fish per day. These chinooks are primarily bright-stocked fall chinooks destined for a variety of mid-to-upper Columbia or Snake River locations.

A run of 252,300 late stock coho salmon is expected to enter the lower Columbia from now and continue through early November. However, the coho bite badly once out of the estuary.

10 buoy fishing success was poor in the first four days after the September 15 reopening. There were approximately 2,400 fishing trips with catches of 570 coho kept, 364 wild coho released and 17 chinook released.

In contrast, angling was excellent from September 15-18 between the eastern tip of Reed Island and Bonneville Dam.

State officials reported that 2,323 chinook were kept, 316 chinook were released, 86 coho were kept and 121 coho were released after 3,600 fishing trips over the four days.

Fishing has since slowed. Last week’s sampling counted 707 boat anglers with 240 chinook, 96 chinook jack, eight coho and one jack coho kept plus six chinook, 10 chinook jack, two adult coho and one rainbow trout released.

The policy of the Washington and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commissions is that no more than 70% of the limiting fall stock (lower Columbia wild tules this year) be allocated to sport fishing and no less than 30 % to commercial fishing.

Jeff Whisler, a biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said this year’s share of limited stocks would be 78% sport fishing and 22% commercials.

Commercial Fishing – State officials also approved four additional nights of gillnet fishing Wednesday between Warrior Rock near Woodland and Bonneville Dam.

These nights are Sundays October 5, October 9 and October 12.

The Columbia is also open Monday through Friday until October 28 from Warrior Rock to the mouth of the river for commercial tangling net fishing.

Tangle nets are small-mesh (3.75 inch) nets designed to catch coho in their teeth or jaws, allowing them to be released live. Wild coho must be released in the tangle net fishery.

Retention of sturgeons is permitted, but commercial fishers are limited to six sturgeons per calendar week.

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