States set 2019 Columbia River spring Chinook seasons

Columbia River

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

Fishery managers from Oregon and Washington adopted revised spring Chinook salmon and steelhead seasons for the Columbia River today during a joint state hearing.  These regulations replace permanent rules that remain in effect through February.

The season-setting process was complicated this year due to a below average forecast for upriver-origin spring Chinook of 99,300 fish and poor expected returns to the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers (1,300 and 1,600 fish, respectively). The predicted return to both of these Washington tributaries is less than what is needed to meet hatchery brood stock needs.

In the Columbia below Bonneville Dam, the modified recreational spring Chinook season will take place from Friday, March 1 through Wednesday, April 10. The open area is from Warrior Rock upstream to Beacon Rock (boat and bank), plus bank angling only from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.

In the Columbia above Bonneville Dam, the recreational Chinook season will be open from Monday, April 1 through Sunday, May 5. The open area for both boat and bank anglers is from the Tower Island power lines approximately six miles below The Dalles Dam upstream to the Oregon/Washington border.  From the Tower Island power lines downstream to Bonneville Dam, only bank angling is allowed.

The daily bag limit for both areas above is two adult Chinook or steelhead per day, of which only one may be a Chinook, and only adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) fish may be kept. Shad may also be kept.

For the area from the Warrior Rock line downstream to Buoy 10, angling for and retention of Chinook salmon, steelhead, and shad will close effective March 1 in order to help protect the Cowlitz and Lewis river stocks of spring Chinook. The Warrior Rock line runs from the Warrior Rock lighthouse on the Oregon shore to red USCG buoy #4, then to the piling dolphin on the lower end of Bachelor Island.

Columbia River spring Chinook salmon seasons are driven by guidelines on the number of upriver-origin Chinook that can be killed. Therefore, season dates can change during the season if/when guidelines are met. The fishery below Bonneville Dam will be managed for a harvest guideline of 3,689 upriver Chinook prior to the run update. Above Bonneville Dam, the pre-update harvest guideline is 492 fish.

In a related conservation action, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that it expects to close the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers to angling beginning March 1.

On the Willamette River, Chinook salmon and steelhead seasons will continue as planned under Oregon sport fishing rules. This year, ODFW fishery managers are forecasting a return to the Willamette of 40,200 adult Chinook, which is up from last year’s actual return of 37,441 adults. The Sandy and Clackamas rivers are also open year-around for retention of hatchery Chinook, steelhead and coho.

For more information for upcoming fishing seasons, refer to Columbia River regulation updates at and e-regulations for permanent regulations.

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