Columbia River scheduled to open for spring Chinook on select days beginning May 5

Columbia River

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

by WA Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

Clarifies which species may be retained in both spring Chinook and sockeye fisheries. This release was originally published May 1.

OLYMPIA – The Columbia River spring Chinook fishery is scheduled to open for four days through mid-May, state fishery managers announced Friday. 

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) jointly manage the river through the Columbia River Compact process, which met Friday and laid out proposed fisheries for spring Chinook and sockeye.

Anglers will be able to fish for spring Chinook on the river both above and below Bonneville Dam on May 5, 7, 9, and 13. Sockeye retention will open on a portion of the lower river beginning May 16, in conjunction with the steelhead opener.

The Columbia River has been closed to fishing since March 25, when Washington enacted a statewide fishing closure to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Oregon also closed the river to salmon and steelhead fishing to remain concurrent with Washington's rules. Many fisheries will reopen across Washington on May 5.

Since this opening is near the peak of the run and fishing conditions are good, managers will monitor catches daily, and adjust the schedule if catches are projected to exceed allowable quotas.

"We're optimistic that this reopening has come just in time for anglers," said Ryan Lothrop, WDFW Columbia River fishery manager. "The spring Chinook run often peaks in the first weeks of May, which means fishing could be good, but given this year's low forecast, it also means we'll have to keep an especially close eye on the run to make sure we're meeting our goals for the numbers of fish making their way upriver."

Additional details for the upcoming Chinook fisheries include:

  • Below Bonneville: Open for Chinook May 5, 7, 9, and 13 for boat and bank angling from Warrior Rock line upstream to Beacon Rock, plus bank-only angling from Beacon Rock upstream to the Bonneville Dam deadline.
  • Above Bonneville: Open for Chinook May 5, 7, 9, and 13 from the Tower Island power lines (approximately 6 miles below The Dalles Dam) upstream to Hwy 730 at the Oregon/Washington border, plus the Oregon and Washington banks between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines.

The daily limit is 6 salmonids, including no more than 2 adults, of which no more than 1 may be an adult Chinook. Release wild steelhead and all salmon, except hatchery Chinook and hatchery coho. Shad can also be retained.

In addition to spring Chinook, WDFW and ODFW also announced dates for an upcoming sockeye fishery later this spring.

  • Sockeye: Sockeye fishing opens May 16-June 15 from Tongue-Point line upstream to the I-5 Bridge. Daily limit is 6 salmonids, including no more than 2 adults, with up to 2 sockeye, 2 steelhead, or 1 of each. Sockeye are considered adults. Hatchery Chinook jacks may be kept as part of the daily limit. Release all other salmon and wild steelhead.

Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon or steelhead. For more information on these and other emergency rules, visit For more information on other fishing regulations statewide, visit

Anglers with either a Washington or Oregon fishing license can fish in jointly managed waters of the Columbia River.

With the response to the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, anglers are urged to be aware of potential restrictions and closures at their intended destinations. Though many state lands, including WDFW lands, are scheduled to reopen beginning May 5, some local or federal lands and facilities may remain closed to public access. Guide and charter services also remain closed in Washington under Gov. Jay Inslee's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order.

"We're asking people to be patient and responsible as seasons open back up," said Lothrop. "That includes staying local, traveling only with members of your immediate household, and keeping 6 feet between yourself and others. If your intended destination looks too crowded or isn't yet open, have a backup plan or be prepared to come another time."

Visit WDFW's coronavirus updates page at for additional information on what's open and what's still closed.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

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