OLYMPIA – Starting Sept. 1, anglers will be able to catch and keep hatchery fall chinook salmon as well as hatchery steelhead on the Snake River.
Predicting a strong return of upriver bright chinook salmon this year, state fishery managers have expanded the daily catch limit to include three adult hatchery chinook, plus three hatchery jack chinook under 24 inches in length.
Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead, but must stop fishing for the day – for both chinook and steelhead – once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit.
Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released, along with any chinook salmon under 12 inches.
Open seven days a week, the fishery will extend from beneath the southbound lanes of the Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco to the Oregon state line, approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River.
“This fishing opportunity for hatchery chinook salmon is a bonus for anglers during the traditionally productive Snake River steelhead fishery,” said John Whalen, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Whalen said the retention fishery for chinook is expected to extend through Oct. 31, although it could close earlier based on on-going assessments of the run size and catch totals.
Retention of hatchery chinook won’t increase impacts to fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so long as anglers release wild chinook as required, Whalen said. Of the 353,000 upper river brights projected to enter the Columbia River this year, 15,100 are wild fall chinook bound for the Snake River.
For that reason, Whalen reminds anglers to identify their catch, before they remove it from the water. State law prohibits removing chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless they are retained as part of the daily catch limit.
Whalen advises anglers to check the Fishing in Washington sport fishing pamphlet and watch for updates on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/) on the upcoming fishery.
A portion of the funding to monitor the Snake River fishery comes via funds generated through sale of the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsements. All anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia and Snake rivers are required to have this endorsement.