Few salmon mean no summer fishing on the Columbia. Fall forecast in flux

Wild chinook salmon being released back into the Snake River.
Wild chinook salmon being released back into the Snake River. Tri-City Herald

Anglers will not be allowed to keep any chinook, including jacks, or any sockeye this summer on the Columbia River, according to the Washington state Department of Fish and wildlife.

Low returns are expected.

The department announced plans Monday evening for recreational salmon fisheries for this year after the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif.

Although there will be no summer season, fall salmon fishing is still expected to be allowed from the Bonneville Dam upstream to the blue bridge at Pasco Aug. 1 through the end of the year.

The daily adult limit will be two salmon, with no more than one chinook.

No night fishing will be allowed from July 1 through the end of the year.

Only one hatchery steelhead may be retained as part of the adult salmon limit.

“While we anticipate a robust coho fishery in the Columbia River this year, we’re taking steps to protect depleted runs of chinook and steelhead,” said Kyle Adicks, salmon policy lead for Washington Fish and Wildlife.

Fishing rules pamphlet in June

The steelhead fisheries in the Columbia and Snake rivers will be similar to those in 2017, when a similarly low run was projected, he said.

The season for steelhead will be closed on the Columbia River from The Dalles Dam to McNary Dam in September.

The John Day Dam to the blue bridge will be closed in October and November.

The Columbia River from the blue bridge upstream to Hanford will be managed in-season, but start with a limit of two hatchery steelhead.

The Snake River also will be managed in-season with a one hatchery fish limit upstream to Couse Creek boat ramp and only steelhead less than 28 inches in size retained.

Some popular fisheries in the Puget Sound will be closed to benefit southern resident killer whales, which feed on chinook..

Limiting fishing there will help minimize boats that disturb orcas and will decrease competition for chinook and other salmon in areas critical to the declining population of killer whales, according to Fish and Wildlife.

More details will be published in the 2019-20 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available in June.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.