States set chinook, sturgeon seasons

The Daily Astorian /

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington set spring chinook salmon and sturgeon fishing seasons for the Columbia and Willamette rivers last week during a joint state hearing.

The Columbia River spring chinook seasons are based on a forecast of 141,400 returning upriver spring chinook. This compares to a 2012 actual upriver return of 203,100 and leaves a harvest guideline of 5,010 upriver fish in the sport fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam. The spring chinook season for the Lower Columbia opened Jan. 1 under permanent rules. The season adopted Feb. 1 will take effect March 1 and is expected to extend the fishery through April 5.

On the Willamette, the spring chinook forecast is 59,800. This is below last year’s actual return of 65,100 but is still enough to allow for a full chinook retention season as described under permanent regulations.

The Columbia and Willamette sturgeon seasons set are based on a reduced total guideline of 7,796 harvestable fish for recreational fisheries in 2013. This reflects a 15 percent conservation buffer adopted in response to recent declines in the abundance of legal-sized fish.

There is now a one sturgeon annual bag limit in all zones statewide. Under this bag limit, anglers may record just one sturgeon on their 2013 Oregon Combined Angling tag, whether caught on the Columbia River, Willamette River or elsewhere in the state.

Also new for 2013 is a barbless hook requirement when fishing for salmon, steelhead or trout on the Columbia and Willamette (below the falls) rivers and selected tributaries.