With a pre-season forecast calling for a lower return of early kings to the Columbia River this year, Washington and Oregon managers unveiled the management regime for first half fisheries Wednesday, Jan. 30.
The working estimate for the 2013 overall upper Columbia spring chinook run is 141,400 fish. That compares to the circa 203,000 springs that ventured above Bonneville Dam last year.
The lowest reaches of the Columbia (below Interstate 5) currently are open for personal use fishing for salmon and steelhead under rules set last year allowing the retention of hatchery fish (limited to marked chinook, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat) as well as bass, walleye and catfish.
Expansion of the sleek fish opportunity occurs the first of March under the recently agreed upon updated Columbia Compact terms.
STURGEON FISHERIES SHRINK A LITTLE
This year's set of white sturgeon exploitation guidelines for the Columbia call for a shorter early stanza (winter-summer season) on the lower river though the 2013 overall harvest ceiling of 7,790 whites is down only slightly from last year.
Managers want to ensure that a portion of the annualized allowable catch total remains for the below-Bonneville fall fishery that was canceled last year because anglers caught their entire share in the early part of the year.
Personal use fishers are being allowed to land 80 percent of the total harvest while commercial fishers will be working in the remaining 20 percent.
For more details on the Columbia River's early salmon and steelhead fishery plus more fishing and hunting news, read Sunday's Outdoors Column.
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pblogs.belinghamherald.com/outdoors.