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Spring Chinook fishing season on Columbia extended

The popular sport fishing season for spring Chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River has been extended through Friday, April 12, under an agreement reached this past Wednesday by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

During that period the recreational fishing season will be closed Tuesday, April 9, to accommodate a possible commercial fishing season.

Harvest levels by sport anglers have been running well below expectations, prompting the two states to add six days to the initial recreational fishing season, previously set to continue through April 5.

Through March, anglers had caught just 1,500 adult spring Chinook salmon, about 25 percent of the 6,100-fish harvest expected by this point in the current fishing season, said Ron Roler, Columbia River Policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"The season definitely got off to a slow start, but the bulk of the run is starting to move in," Roler said. "River conditions are excellent - low and warm - so we will be monitoring the fishery closely to make sure the catch doesn't exceed the established guideline."

Guy Norman, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife southwest regional director, said fishery managers from both states will watch the catch throughout the extension period and close the fishing season earlier if necessary.

"We want to keep the fishery open through April 12 - and perhaps even longer - but we have to hold the catch within the guideline," Norman said. "The situation can change very quickly in April when the fish start moving upriver in large numbers."

Sport fishing for salmon and steelhead is currently open on the lower Columbia River from the mouth upriver to Beacon Rock, and to bank anglers up to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam. The daily limit below Bonneville Dam is two adult hatchery-raised fish and no more than one adult Chinook.

Anglers fishing the mainstem Columbia River are required to use barbless hooks and release any wild, unmarked salmon, steelhead or cutthroat trout they intercept.

Salmon fishing seasons above Bonneville Dam are not affected by Wednesday's action by the two states.

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