Spring kings in the lower Columbia River are again fair game as of Thursday, May 15 under a Washington/Oregon (Columbia Compact) fishery extension accord.
After assessing the most recent passage counts, technical fishery experts now believe the 2014 early returning Columbia chinook run will pan out as forecast reaching 224,000 fish. The preseason prediction was 227,000.
Even as of last week the run numbers did not look that strong with updated projections pegging the return at only 185,000 fish.
Now that the run has given firm indication that greater numbers of springs have come in officials say the management equation reports addition encounters and harvest are possible and therefore allowable under the federal permit issued under the auspices of Endangered Species Act.
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The daily limit for this extension is one hatchery or marked (adipose fin-clipped) chinook from the salmon run together with one hatchery or marked summer steelhead from the sea-run trout return.
This harvest resumption applies to lower Columbia waters from the line between Rocky and Tongue points above Astoria upstream to Bonneville Dam and will last until June 15. The next day the summer chinook phase of the Columbia River personal use season starts so anglers should have a seamless (no days off) transition to the second half fishery.
Managers estimate that so far this year anglers have landed 10,084 upriver spring chinook bound for points above Pasco and into the Snake River. If this fishery extension proceeds as expected anglers should take an addition 3,864 kings, say managers.
Before heading south, however, Columbia-bound fishers should always check for emergency updates at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/