The Columbia River was scheduled to close to all salmon and steelhead fishing at midnight Thursday.
Oregon’s closure order late Wednesday closely followed Washington’s announcement that all sportfishing and shellfishing in the state will be closed until at least April 8, with a review on April 6 whether to extend the closure.
Curt Melcher, director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said Oregon is closing the Columbia to remain concurrent in salmon and steelhead regulations between the two states, which share the river as a border.
Fishing for other species can continue in the Columbia, but only in Oregon portions of the river.
Melcher said in an email message the department is working closely with the governor’s office and health experts, recognizing “this is a fluid situation that could change,” but that all other sportfishing can continue statewide.
“The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and OHA (Oregon Health Authority) both say fishing is a good activity with proper social distancing,” he wrote. “We will be watching anglers’ behavior.”
Melcher added that the closure of many boat ramps locally, and nearly all on the Oregon Coast, causes some concern among managers about crowding.
And indeed, Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order may seem contradictory to some of the advice about dealing with isolation by getting some fresh air — just isolate yourself.
Melcher’s trout-stocking teams have removed the department’s online stocking schedule in an effort to avoid eager anglers who wait for the trucks to show up and then cluster around the newly stocked area. Most of the department’s offices are closed to foot traffic and not even the offices are being given the stocking schedules.
Hunting will not close. The next general season is for wild turkeys on April 15.
Hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing are also potentially solitary events, but careful planning is advisable.
Virtually all coastal communities are discouraging visitors, for example. Boat ramps are closed coastwide, which lets out all boat access to bays and the ocean. And while some beaches can be reached for clamming, there are health advisories to heed and the probability that local businesses, restaurants and especially bathrooms are closed.
In and around population centers, most federal wildlife refuges are closed to the public. Camping is not permitted on state-managed wildlife areas.