ENTERPRISE, Ore. – Spring Chinook season will open on the Snake River in Hells Canyon on April 28 from the Dug Bar boat ramp to the boundary below Hells Canyon Dam.
Fishery managers do not expect salmon to arrive to the fishery area for several weeks, as these fish are currently making their way up the Columbia River headed for Hells Canyon. “This group tends to be amongst the first to reach the Snake River, and they can migrate really quickly once they pass Bonneville Dam,” said Jeff Yanke, District Fish Biologist in Enterprise. “We like to have this fishery open early so anglers can take advantage as soon as they arrive,” he added.
The daily bag limit is 4 spring Chinook per day with no more than 2 being adults over 24 inches. Anglers must cease fishing for salmon for the day when they retain 4 salmon or 2 adult salmon, whichever comes first.
Barbless hooks and a Columbia Basin Endorsement are required when fishing for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in the Snake River. All other sport fishing regulations apply. Due to limited access in this section, most anglers access this fishery below Hells Canyon Dam or by jet boat.
Hells Canyon will likely be one of the few spring Chinook fisheries in Oregon’s Snake Basin this year. Fishery managers are tentatively planning a brief one-week fishery in Lookingglass Creek, but expect that low returns will preclude fisheries in the Imnaha or Wallowa Rivers.
Hells Canyon is unique in that fisheries can occur even during the low salmon runs fishery managers are expecting in 2018. After broodstock needs are met, managers with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Fish and Game expect a modest recreational sport harvest of 700-800 salmon in the Snake River fishery.
“These fish are specifically raised and released to provide fishing opportunities”, Yanke said. “And with no wild populations of spring Chinook salmon in the Snake River above Dug Bar, there are limited concerns that this fishery will impact vulnerable populations.”