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Spring chinook season on lower Columbia extended

Starting today, May 15, anglers will have another full month to catch hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon and steelhead on the lower Columbia River under an agreement reached by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

Under the agreement, anglers can catch and keep one marked, hatchery chinook salmon daily through Sunday, June 15, as part of their catch limit from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Bonneville Dam.

In all, they may retain up to two adult salmon or steelhead - or one of each - but no more than one adult chinook salmon per day. Anglers must release all sockeye salmon and any wild salmon or wild steelhead, which can be identified by an intact adipose fin.

An updated run projection predicts 224,000 upriver spring chinook will return to the Columbia River this year, according to Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The pre-season projection anticipated a return of 227,000 upriver fish.

The new projection reflects greater confidence in the run since last week, when fishery managers projected a minimum return of 185,000 upriver fish this year, according to Roler.

“We’ve taken a conservative approach to the season so far, but the count of spring chinook past Bonneville Dam indicates our pre-season projection was on target,” he said. “Under this extension, anglers should be able to keep fishing in the lower river right up to the start of the summer chinook season June 16.”

Anglers fishing the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam caught 10,084 upriver spring chinook through May 10, when the previous two-day extension ended. The extension through mid-June is projected to boost the annual catch in those waters by 3,864, according to Roler.

For more information about the fishing extension, see the “Fishing Rule Notice” on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

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