CLACKAMAS, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife today announced that salmon and steelhead anglers will be limited to a three-day-per-week schedule and a one Chinook bag limit in the lower Willamette River, effective Monday, May 8.
Under the new rules, until further notice Chinook and steelhead retention will be open three days a week – Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – downstream of Willamette Falls, including the Multnomah Channel, Gilbert River, and the Clackamas River downstream of the Highway 99E Bridge. The daily adult salmonid bag limit is two hatchery fish, but only one may be a Chinook. The department did not modify current rules that allow the two-rod angling validation and use of barbed hooks.
The reduced season structure was implemented as a cautionary approach to managing the fishery in the face of continued low passage of both steelhead and Chinook salmon, according to Tucker Jones, ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program manager.
As of May 3, only 51 adult spring Chinook had crossed Willamette Falls compared to the 10-year average of 7,558 Chinook; with a previous low passage at this date of 416 in 1993. To date, winter steelhead passage is 721 adult fish, compared to the 10-year average of 5,163.
“The cumulative passage at Willamette Falls is substantially lower than anything we’ve seen before,” said Jones, adding, “Water temperatures should be increasing and we hope to see passage improve dramatically. If this happens, and other signs improve, we might loosen restrictions but if poor counts continue, an outright closure might be warranted.”
Current regulations for the Willamette River and tributaries upstream of Willamette Falls and Clackamas River (upstream of the Hwy. 99E Bridge) remain unchanged. Chinook and steelhead retention remains open under permanent rules, and the previously adopted two-rod angling validation remains in effect.