Commission approves new policy
on Grays Harbor salmon fisheries



OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a new Grays Harbor salmon-management policy designed to conserve wild salmon runs and clarify catch guidelines for sport and commercial fisheries in the bay.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the new policy Feb. 8 during a public meeting in Tumwater.

Miranda Wecker, commission chair, said the new policy provides clear direction to make conservation of wild salmon the first priority for fishery management in the harbor.

“Most importantly, this policy sends a strong and unmistakable signal about the importance of meeting our conservation objectives, even if that means seriously reining in both sport and commercial fisheries,” Wecker said. “It also represents a fair accommodation for both fisheries when harvestable numbers of fish are present.”

The new policy includes provisions for state-managed fisheries that:

  • Limit the total catch of wild chinook salmon to a maximum of 5 percent of the adult return if established spawning goals have not been met in three out of the previous five years.
  • Prioritize the recreational fishery in allocating the chinook salmon catch between commercial and recreational users.
  • Allow an increase in the base allocation of chinook salmon for commercial fisheries in years of high abundance.
  • Structure commercial seasons so that recreational anglers have at least three consecutive days per week to fish when no commercial fisheries take place.
  • Focus commercial fisheries on coho and chum salmon when harvestable numbers of fish exist.

Since last October, WDFW has held eight public meetings in Grays Harbor County to encourage public involvement in the development of the policy. More than 350 written comments were received on the draft policy during that time.

State fishery managers expect to post the final text of the new Grays Harbor Salmon Management Policy on WDFW’s website ( by mid-February.

In other business, the commission approved an updated policy for lower Columbia River sturgeon fisheries that includes technical amendments to the version approved in 2011 and extends the policy through 2018.

Updates to the policy do not affect the closure of retention fishing for sturgeon below Bonneville Dam due to conservation concerns. That closure remains in effect until further notice.

The commission also approved a proposal by WDFW to purchase two acres of uplands and tidelands at Lynch Cove in Mason County, where the department plans to provide parking and access to waterfowl hunting on Hood Canal. The project will also provide a migratory pathway for juvenile summer chum and chinook salmon, and preserve habitat for shellfish, shorebirds and waterfow


Smelt time!

Smelt dipping opens Saturday (Feb. 8)
on Cowlitz River for first time in 3 years


OLYMPIA – The first recreational fishery for eulachon smelt in three years will get under way Saturday (Feb. 8) on the Cowlitz River under a new rule approved by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Under the new rule, fishing with dip nets will be allowed from the riverbank from 6 a.m. until noon each Saturday through March 1. Each dip-netter may retain 10 pounds of smelt per day.

In a joint meeting Wednesday, fishery managers from Washington and Oregon also approved a similar smelt-dipping schedule on the Sandy River in Oregon and a limited gillnetting fishery on the lower Columbia River.

Ron Roler, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator, said all three fisheries are designed primarily to gather basic biological data on smelt, which were listed as threatened from northern California into British Columbia under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2010.

“In the three years since the fishery closed, we’ve lacked basic data to monitor the smelt population returning to the lower Columbia River,” Roler said. “The limited fishing opportunities approved this year will allow us to monitor this resource without affecting its recovery.”

Working in consultation with NOAA-Fisheries, state fishery managers developed fishing seasons that are expected to take no more than 1 percent of the total amount of smelt expected to return this year.

After declining for more than a decade, smelt returns began to increase in 2011, reaching 110 million spawners in 2013, Roler said. Another large run is expected this year, he said.

“This year’s fishery will provide limited fishing opportunities that are consistent with the conservation of smelt and will assist NOAA-Fisheries in developing a recovery plan,” Roler said.

The commercial fishery for smelt approved this year is scheduled to run Mondays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Columbia River below Warrior Rock at the mouth of the Lewis River.

adminSmelt time!

Spring Kings

Lower Columbia River spring chinook seasons set as strong return is forecast


CHINOOK RUNWashington and Oregon fisheries managers agreed on Columbia River hatchery spring chinook fishing seasons with anglers getting 36 days below Bonneville Dam and 55 days above Bonneville.


The seasons came to light on the heels of a 2014 upriver Columbia River spring chinook prediction of 308,000 compared to a forecast last year of 141,400 and an actual return of 123,100. If the run actually pans out then it would be the fifth-largest return since 1980.


Ron Roler, the state Fish and Wildlife Columbia River policy manager, said in a news release that this year’s spring chinook fishery looks promising, noting that the initial seasons could be extended if enough fish are available for harvest.


“The stage is set for a great fishery this year,” Roler said in the news release. “Not only is the run forecast well above average, but the light snow pack makes it unlikely that anglers will have to contend with high, turbid water as they have in some years.”


The Lower Columbia River up to Bonneville Dam would be to open sport fishing from March 1 to April 7, and closed for commercial fishing on March 25 and April 1. The Lower Columbia kept catch would be 12,400 adult fish.


When fishing opens on the lower river March 1, the fishery for boat and bank anglers will expand upriver to Beacon Rock, and bank fishing also allowed from Beacon Rock upriver to the fishing boundary just below Bonneville Dam.


The Columbia River from above Bonneville to the Washington-Oregon border upstream 17 miles above McNary Dam would be open from March 16 through May 9. Bank anglers can also fish from Bonneville up to the Tower Island powerlines during this time frame. The kept catch would be 1,325 adult fish.


The daily limit will be one hatchery chinook in all open sections. Barbless hooks are required, and wild unmarked salmon and steelhead must be released.


The lower river is currently open for hatchery spring chinook below the I-5 Bridge.


The breakdown is the Upper Columbia portion of the spring chinook forecast is 24,100 in 2014 compared to a forecast last year of 14,300 and an actual return of 18,000.


The Snake River spring/summer component of the spring Chinook forecast is 125,000 in 2014 compared to a forecast last year of 58,200 and an actual return of 67,300.


The Snake River wild spring chinook forecast is 42,200 in 2014 compared to a forecast last year of 18,900 and an actual return of 21,900.


The Wind is expecting 8,500 spring chinook compared to a forecast last year of 3,000 and an actual return of 3,600. At Drano the tally is 13,100, up considerably from 4,900 and 7,300. The Klickitat will see a slight bump with 2,500 compared to 2,200 and 1,800.


In the Lower Columbia, the Willamette River on the Oregon side, is expecting 58,700 spring chinook (59,800 was forecasted in 2013 and the actual return was 47,300). The Cowlitz forecast is 7,800 (5,500 and 9,500); Kalama is 500 (700 and 1,300); and Lewis is 1,100 (1,600 and 1,800).


State fishery managers also decided to open sturgeon fishing in Bonneville Pool beginning this Saturday (Feb. 1) through Feb. 17 or until 300 to 350 sturgeon are caught, whichever comes first. Only white sturgeon measuring 38 to 54 inches (fork length) may be kept.

The Lower Columbia below Bonneville is closed for sturgeon catch and keep

adminSpring Kings

Feb 10 2014

Well its Finally time to start my blog…. whooo!!!!   This last blast of winter weather should be just what we needed to get the Winter steelhead Moving!  I spent two hours on the cowlitz river tonight testing that theory, with positive results.  I still think its going to be two or so weeks before it really gets amazing but there are some nice B runs to be had. We split the action with some fish on bait and a couple hook ups on Yarnies.

adminFeb 10 2014