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Pilot spring Chinook fishery opens on lower Grande Ronde River

ENTERPRISE, Ore. – For the first time in almost 40 years, anglers will have a chance to fish for spring chinook on the Grande Ronde River June 27-30.

According to Jeff Yanke, ODFW fish biologist in Enterprise, biologists are testing the feasibility of a spring Chinook fishery in the lower Grande Ronde River to increase the harvest of hatchery fish destined for the Lostine River. The purpose of this year’s brief pilot fishery is to get an initial measure of angler participation and catch rates in such a fishery.

The details of the fishery are:

Open from Friday, June 27 until Monday, June 30 from the Oregon/Washington border to a deadline 100 yards upstream of the Wildcat/Powwatka Bridge on Grande Ronde River Rd.

The area at the mouth of the Wenaha River at Troy, OR will be closed to protect wild stocks.

Daily bag limit will be two adult fin-clipped Chinook and five fin-clipped jacks.

A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is required.

In 2008, fishery managers opened the Wallowa River for spring Chinook to target the recreational harvest of Lostine River hatchery fish.

“At best, the Wallowa River fishery has achieved only 10 percent of our annual harvest quota” Yanke said. “We’re speculating that these Chinook salmon will be more available to anglers on the lower Grande Ronde, which has bigger water and deeper holes for traditional Chinook fishing methods”

In addition to increasing angler catch rates, the plan also has a notable conservation component. Increasing the recreational harvest of hatchery fish is an important tool in managing the prescribed number of hatchery fish on spawning grounds, Yanke added.

Opening a salmon fishery on the lower Grande Ronde is tricky because fish from the upper Grande Ronde, Catherine Creek and Lookingglass Creek also pass through the fishery area, Yanke said. However, data suggests that the Lostine stock targeted by the lower river fishery migrate through the river up to a month later than the other stocks.

“We think with careful monitoring to ensure more sensitive stocks have moved upstream, we can time a fishery that takes advantage of the late-arriving Lostine stock while avoiding fish from the other stocks,” Yanke said.

This fishery is being co-managed by states of Oregon and Washington, where a similar Chinook season will open on the Grande Ronde north of the Oregon/Washington border.