Predicting another strong return of upriver bright chinook salmon this year, state fishery managers have expanded the daily catch limit to include six adult hatchery chinook, plus six hatchery jack chinook under 24 inches in length.
Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead on the Snake River, but must stop fishing for the day - for both hatchery chinook and steelhead - once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit.
Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released, along with any chinook salmon under 12 inches.
"This is a great opportunity for anglers to catch hatchery chinook salmon during the traditionally productive Snake River steelhead fishery," said John Whalen, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Meanwhile, anglers should be aware of new fishing rules set to take effect Sept. 1 on the Tucannon River, where the daily catch limit for hatchery steelhead will be reduced to two fish to provide additional protection for wild steelhead. The new rules for steelhead and other gamefish also:
- Require anglers to use barbless hooks and keep any hatchery steelhead they catch.
- Close the fishery upstream from Marengo at Turner Road Bridge.
- Establish new fishing boundaries at the mouth of the Tucannon.
Whalen said the upcoming fall chinook fishery on the Snake River is expected to extend through Oct. 31, while the season for hatchery steelhead and other gamefish will run through Feb. 28.
Of the 919,000 upper river brights projected to enter the Columbia River this year, 61, 000 are wild fall chinook bound for the Snake River. Retention of hatchery chinook won't increase impacts to fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so long as anglers release wild chinook as required, Whalen said.
"We urge anglers to identify their catch before they remove it from the water," he said. "State law prohibits removing chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless they are retained as part of the daily catch limit."
The fishery will extend from waters of the Columbia River from the railroad bridge between Burbank and Kennewick upstream approximately 2.1 miles to the first power line crossing upstream of the navigation light on the point of Sacajawea State Park and on the Snake River from the Columbia River confluence to the Oregon State line (approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).
Whalen advises anglers to check the Fishing in Washington sport fishing pamphlet and watch for updates on the WDFW website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ) on the upcoming fishery.
A portion of the funding to monitor the Snake River fishery comes via funds generated through sale of the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsements.