The treaty tribes of the Columbia River Basin are selling fall chinook salmon to the public now and through September as part of what is expected to be a robust run.
Fishers from Yakama, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Nez Perce tribes, and the Columbia River Compact, a mainstem regulatory board representing the states of Oregon and Washington, agreed last week to open commercial sales of fall chinook, coho, steelhead, walleye and shad during three sales periods through Sept. 12.
Tribal fishers are selling gillnet-caught fish throughout Zone 6, a 150-mile stretch of the Columbia between the Bonneville Dam and McNary Dam near Umatilla, during the following periods:
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 6 a.m., to Friday, Sept. 5, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6 a.m., to Friday, Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
A commercial scaffold fishery, in which hoop nets, dip nets, and hook and line are used, remains in effect until further notice.
The tribes want to benefit from a projected strong return of fall chinook to the Columbia River. More than 595,000 fish are expected to reach the mouth of the river, the fifth largest forecast since 1948.
It includes 258,400 upriver bright fall chinook that spawn primarily in the Hanford Reach, as well as 116,900 lower-river hatchery fish, 101,900 Bonneville pool hatchery fish and 86,600 mid-Columbia brights.
About 429,000 coho salmon and 360,900 steelhead are expected to enter the river this fall.
"It's a good year," said Stuart Ellis, harvest management biologist for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal fish Commission. "The fall chinook run above Bonneville is expected to be similar to last year. There are fewer tule-type fish, but overall things are pretty similar."
He added: "The steelhead forecast in total is going to be strong again. So we will catch plenty of chinook and steelhead, and the coho run, although we don't catch many of them, should be pretty good."
The fishery will include fishers from the Yakama Nation, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
Under 1855 treaties with the federal government, members of these tribes reserved the right to fish at all usual and accustomed fishing places in the Columbia River Basin. The fishing right includes ceremonial, subsistence and
A staple of the tribal diet for thousands of years, salmon are recognized as one of the healthiest foods available. Salmon contain high amounts of these healthy omega-3 oils, and studies published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association have found that omega-3's make blood less likely to form clots that cause heart attack and protect against irregular heartbeats that cause sudden cardiac death.
A study published in the Archives of Neurology also recently found that people 65 and older who ate fish once a week had a 60 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's than those who
never or rarely ate fish.
Over-the-bank sales help tribal fishers support their families and make it possible to continue their traditional livelihood. Prosperous fisheries also have broader local and regional economic benefits. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission estimates that for every $10 generated by fish sales, as much as $7 is contributed to local economies.
Tribal sellers can be found at various locations between Bonneville Dam and McNary Dam. Major sales locations include the Marine Park at Cascade Locks, Lone Pine at The Dalles, and the boat launch near Roosevelt, in eastern Klickitat County.
Buyers should bring sufficient ice and coolers to keep fish fresh. Sales are cash only. Customers can call toll-free (888) 289-1855 for more information.