Reaches of three key Columbia Basin streams have reopened to fishing for early returning chinook salmon under recently issued fish and wildlife department rule-change orders:
Managers estimate that the basin's early run will now reach 230,000 spring kings and under state/tribal/federal accords, additional hatchery spring chinook may be caught and kept.
Opening within the past week are reaches of the Lower Columbia, specifically the Bonneville Pool, the Snake and the Wenatchee rivers.
For the Wenatchee it will be the first time in 20 years it will be opened due in part to the expected return of 10,000 hatchery-origin or marked spring chinook returning the federal hatchery near Leavenworth.
Anglers must in several water fish with barbless hooks (in the Snake reaches) and release all wild chinook (ones with their adipose fins intact) unharmed without taking them from the water Also, they must retain all adipose clipped fish and must stop fishing when their daily limit is retained.
Anglers should also note that reaches of the Yakima River also are currently open for spring kings.
To make sure they fully understand the regulations for each river, anglers should read the posted orders for all rules that apply to each of these waters.
Those orders can be found at fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_current_order_by_date.j
Open reaches for its fishery extension include:
? Below Ice Harbor: Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam.
*Below Lower Granite Dam: Snake River from the Ilia Boat Launch on the south across to the mouth of Almota Creek upstream about four miles to the restricted fishing area below Lower Granite Dam.
? Below Little Goose: Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (on the south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility. This area includes the walkway area locally known as "the Wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility.
? Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line. (The state line extends from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
Though this fishing resumption is expected to last several weeks, it could close quickly depending if effort is heavy and anglers are successful.
The two open reaches for this fishery include:
? From the Washington State Parks foot bridge at Confluence Park (just upstream from the confluence with the Columbia River) to 400 feet below Dryden Dam.
? From the confluence with Peshastin Creek to the downstream side of the confluence with the Icicle River and from that point to a marker on the opposite shore.
The fishery will be open seven days a week in both areas until further notice with a daily limit of two hatchery spring chinook measuring at least 12 inches long and marked with a clipped adipose fin.
Under statewide regulations, anglers are allowed to keep only one daily limit of salmon, regardless of how many waters they fish.
LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER
Open reaches for this fishery extension include:
? The Columbia River above Bonneville Dam for 160 miles.
Managers expect this section of the Columbia will remain open until June 16 when regulations for it revert to the permanent regulations in the Fish Washington pamphlet and the summer chinook season officially starts.
SUPPORT YOUR OPPORTUNITIES
To fish most flowing waters in the Columbia Basin, besides their basic fishing license, all anglers must buy a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement.
Revenue from the CRSS endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries.
"Our federal permit to conduct this fishery requires us to closely monitor the catch," Mendel said. "Our ability to do that is largely due to funds from the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement."
The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
SUPPORT YOUR OPPORTUNITIES
These fisheries are posted under emergency orders, are governed by wild fish encounter or harvest quotas that when reached trigger closures.
Those ending order are posted on the department's regulations Web page wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
Anglers are well advised especially if travelling some distance to check this source before heading out.
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.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.