OLYMPIA Columbia River anglers should be aware of several new rules that the state Department of Fish and Wildlife set at the beginning of the month.
Approximately 960,000 Chinook salmon are projected to return to the river this year, well above the 10-year average.
However, some Coho and steelhead runs are expected to be down this year.
“A big part of the challenge this year is to conserve Coho and steelhead, while providing a full fishing season for chinook salmon,” Fishery Manager Ron Roler said.
Changes in this year’s fall fishery on the Columbia and its tributaries include:
• Steelhead limits — Anglers are limited to one hatchery steelhead per day on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam.
The restriction is due to low projected upriver wild steelhead returns.
It is extended upriver to McNary Dam starting Sept. 1, then up to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco beginning Nov. 1.
As in previous years, only hatchery steelhead with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.
• Buoy 10 Chinook rule — Anglers in the Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the Columbia River are be required to release wild Chinook on Sundays and Mondays to meet federal conservation guidelines under the federal Endangered Species Act.
• Ventral-clipped Chinook — Anglers may retain Chinook salmon with either a clipped adipose or left ventral fin through Dec. 1 from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam.
The new rule will enable the recreational fishery to help reduce the number of fish that stray.
• Snake River Chinook — The daily catch limit for adult Chinook salmon has been reduced to two fish from the Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal upstream to the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco to conserve wild ESA listed chinook bound for the Snake River.
• Coho limit in tributaries — With Coho salmon numbers down from the 10-year average, the daily limit for anglers will be two adult hatchery fish.
As before, unmarked Coho must be released.
The new daily limit will affect fisheries on the Cowlitz, Deep, Grays, Elochoman, Toutle, Green, Tilton, Cispus, Kalama, Lewis and Washougal rivers.
• Strays on the tributaries — For the first time, anglers will be allowed to keep hatchery Chinook and hatchery Coho during designated hatchery steelhead seasons.
The rule will affect numerous smaller lower Columbia tributaries to remove stray hatchery fish from the spawning grounds. Fishing regulations in effect throughout the state are described river-by-river in the 2016-17 Sport Fishing Pamphlet.