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Managers to extend Columbia chinook season

CLACKAMAS — Sport fishermen will get an additional three weeks to get out and catch a chinook salmon on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam under a season extension approved by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington.

During a joint state hearing fish and wildlife officials from the two states decided to reopen the spring chinook season on the lower Columbia through Saturday, June 15.

The extended spring season takes place for three weeks immediately prior to the summer chinook season, which is scheduled on the lower Columbia from June 16 through June 30.

“We’re pleased to be able to provide five weeks of uninterrupted chinook salmon fishing,” said Steve Williams, administrator of ODFW’s fish division.

The joint state action is based on revised estimates of salmon returns and harvest data that showed an additional 1,357 upriver spring chinook salmon are available for fishermen to harvest in the Columbia.

The revised forecast shows an expected return of 107,500 upriver spring chinook, which is down from the preseason estimate of 141,400 chinook.

The season opens from Tongue Point up to Bonneville Dam with only bank angling allowed from Beacon Rock to Bonneville.

Above Bonneville Dam, the chinook season remains closed until the summer season opens June 16 – July 31 since most of the spring chinook quota was used prior to the May 6 closure.

The daily bag limit prior to June 16 is two adult salmonids per day, of which only one may be a chinook. Any sockeye salmon caught must be released unharmed.

Only barbless hooks are allowed, and only adipose fin-clipped fish may be retained.

In a separate action last week, the states approved four days of white sturgeon retention fishing in the Bonneville Pool.

Those seasons take place June 14-15 and June 21-22.

The bag limit is one white sturgeon per day and two for the year.

Only sturgeon with fork lengths of 38-54 inches may be retained, and only barbless hooks may be used.

Kokanee limits will be increased

ENTERPRISE – Kokanee anglers at Wallowa Lake will be able to bring more fish home starting this holiday weekend.

The daily bag limit will increase from 10 to 20 fish per day.

There will continue be no minimum size limit but anglers will still be restricted to harvesting only five fish over 12-inches.

For anglers visiting Wallowa Lake from afar, possession limits remain at two daily limits.

According to Jeff Yanke, district fish biologist in Enterprise, the estimated population of kokanee in Wallowa Lake has increased from 70,000 fish in 2008 to over 900,000 fish in 2012.

“We’ve had a remarkable rebound in kokanee abundance, especially with younger fish under 12-inches,” said Yanke.

Wallowa Lake has gained a reputation for producing trophy-sized kokanee, breaking four state records and a world record from 2009 to 2010.

“Angler expectations were certainly raised when so many record fish were caught in 2009-2010,” Yanke said. “Even today, many anglers expect to catch huge kokanee when they come to Wallowa Lake.”

Yanke said he hopes the increased bag limit will help offset the loss of trophy-sized fish.

The increased bag limit was established under a rule that will remain in place for six months.

To comment on the proposed change, call the offices at 541-426-3279.

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