Anglers must now release any chinook salmon they catch on the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth to the U.S. Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced last week.
The announcement follows an agreement between fisheries managers from Washington and Oregon to close two sections of the Columbia River where the sport fishery has taken its portion of the allowable impact on fall chinook salmon protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The two areas affected by that agreement extend from the mouth of the Columbia to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line--the so-called Buoy 10 fishery--and from Bonneville Dam upstream to the U.S. Highway 395 bridge in Pasco.
Both states had already ended chinook retention from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to Bonneville Dam as of Sept. 18.
"This year's Columbia River fall chinook run is smaller than expected," said Tim Flint, WDFW salmon manager. "That requires a corresponding reduction in allowable impacts on wild chinook salmon protected under the ESA."
Through the third week in September, anglers had caught approximately 27,500 chinook salmon from the mouth of the Columbia River to the U.S. Highway 395 bridge.
The new chinook-release rules took effect last Saturday but does not affect fishing for other species of salmon or steelhead in the lower river, Flint said.
Fishing regulations for other salmon species are listed in the 2005-06 "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet.