By Bill Monroe on Oregon Live,original post here.
Elated by a record-smashing fall chinook salmon run into the Columbia River, Oregon and Washington fish managers decided Tuesday afternoon to relax the river’s last sportfishing restriction.
Beginning Thursday, anglers in the lower Columbia River no longer have to release unclipped chinook salmon between Buoy 10 at the river’s mouth and Warrior Rock on Sauvie Island.
The restriction was in place to protect wild salmon spawning in lower tributaries, but biologists said those salmon have already entered their home waters and are largely gone from the Columbia.
Regulations are now uniform from the mouth upriver past all four dams into Washington. Anglers are allowed two salmon or steelhead per day and chinook need not be fin-clipped, although steelhead and coho still must be missing an adipose fin. Anglers in a boat may also continue to fish until limits are taken by everyone in the boat.
Biologists, who predicted a healthy run of more than 600,000 chinook, now believe the run into the Columbia will be close to 1.2 million, far exceeding all records kept for the river since the first dams were constructed and counts began. By Monday evening, 818,600 adult fall chinook had been counted at Bonneville.
Jack salmon returns, important predictors for the following year’s run, are high again this year as well; although not quite as high as in 2012.
Biologists said the coho return remains below predicted numbers.
The states also approved two more 10-hour commercial net seasons, Thursday and Sunday evenings, dusk to dawn. Additional commercial seasons will be discussed in another conference telephone call Thursday afternoon.