A sockeye return of more than 250,000 through Monday has allowed state Fish and Wildlife to open a section of the Columbia River in the Hanford Reach area.
Anglers will be able to keep sockeye from Tuesday (June 28) through Aug. 15 from Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco to the Interstate 182 Bridge at Richland near Columbia Point.
The daily limit in this section will be three salmon, of which one can be an adult hatchery chinook and two may be sockeye. Release all wild adult chinook.
Anglers from the Interstate 182 Bridge to Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is this section will be six salmon, of which two can be an adult hatchery chinook and three may be sockeye. Release all wild adult chinook.
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Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon, and you must have a current fishing license with the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement. Anglers with the “Two-Pole Endorsement” may fish with two poles, except for sturgeon.
Through Monday (June 27), 255,498 sockeye had been counted at Bonneville and is expected to reach 400,000 – the preseason forecast was 101,600 – which has now dropped it down to the third highest dating back to 1938.
The highest count during the same time frame was 289,500 in 2012, and 267,200 last year.
Last year’s total return of 512,500 sockeye was the third largest run since at least 1938 – record was 648,361 sockeye in 2014.
The single-day sockeye counts at Bonneville were 12,999 on Monday; 12,114 on Sunday; 16,466 on Saturday; 21,412 on Friday; 23,518 on Thursday; 17,352 on June 22.
“We may have peaked, but it is still a darn good run,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
Barring extreme high water temperatures like those that caused unprecedented pre-spawning mortality last summer, the spawning needs in the Wenatchee and Okanogan rivers should be achieved.
More than 110,000 sockeye have crossed McNary Dam through Sunday, allowing a fishery upstream of the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam.
After the loss of nearly all spawning sockeye in the Okanogan River last summer, fishery managers are moving forward conservatively until spawning escapements in the Wenatchee and Okanogan are achieved.
Provided that water temperatures remain below lethal levels, sockeye seasons above Priest Rapids Dam are likely as the run progresses upriver.