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Fishery managers extend Columbia chinook season

Lower Columbia River salmon fishermen will get another chance to catch a Columbia River spring chinook due to a season extension effective Saturday, April 7 through Friday April, 13.

Fishery managers approved the extension Thursday at a joint state hearing of the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife.

The season had been scheduled to close on April 6 but was extended based on harvest information indicating anglers had caught well below the number allowed during the regular season on the Columbia below Bonneville Dam. As of March 31, anglers had caught an estimated 2,025 spring chinook, leaving an estimated 11,600 upriver chinook from the pre-season allocation of 12,700 upriver fish.

Poor weather and deteriorating water conditions put a damper on fishing effort and catch rates as the Columbia and its tributaries swelled with heavy spring runoff the past two weeks. As of April 6, sport fishermen will have logged an estimated 54,200 angler trips on the lower Columbia, compared to more than 80,000 over the same period a year ago.

“Obviously we’re well behind where we thought we’d be at this point,” said Kevleen Melcher, ODFW’s assistant Columbia River fisheries manager. “Hopefully river conditions will improve and folks will still be able to get out and catch some fish.”

In the meantime, the states will continue monitoring the salmon returns and recreational catch. Another joint hearing of the two states is scheduled for next week to determine whether further modifications to the spring chinook season are appropriate.