Spring Chinook season opens in Hells Canyon on April 24

ENTERPRISE, Ore. – Spring Chinook season will open in Hells Canyon on April 24 from the Dug Bar boat ramp to the boundary below Hells Canyon Dam.

Snake River spring Chinook are currently migrating up the main stem Columbia River and will be arriving in the Oregon section of the Snake in the upcoming weeks.

“While it will take a bit for the fish to get here, we like to have the fishery open when they arrive,” said Kyle Bratcher, Acting District Fish Biologist in Enterprise. “Despite the lagging spring Chinook runs across the Columbia basin, the dead-end nature of this fishery allows us to provide some opportunity despite the depressed run,” added Bratcher.

The daily bag limit is four hatchery Chinook per day of which only one may be an adult hatchery Chinook salmon over 24 inches. Anglers must cease fishing for all salmon once they have retained one adult hatchery Chinook or four hatchery jack salmon, whichever comes first.

Barbless hooks and a Columbia Basin Endorsement are required when angling for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon in the Snake River. All other 2021 sport fishing regulations apply.

Managers with ODFW and Idaho Fish and Game expect a modest run of about 1,000 hatchery spring Chinook to return to the base of Hells Canyon Dam. “Hatchery fish returning to Hells Canyon Dam have two purposes, provide broodstock for the next generation, and recreational and tribal harvest,” Bratcher said. “So, a portion of the fish not collected for broodstock can be made available to anglers.”

The Hells Canyon fishery will likely be one of the few spring Chinook fisheries in Oregon’s Snake River Basin this year. Fishery managers expect that low returns will preclude fisheries in the Imnaha and Grande Ronde River basins. However, managers will monitor the run and assess fishery options as the fish arrive.