Starting Sunday, the area near the mouth of the Columbia River will be closed to all salmon and steelhead fishing. Despite the previous chinook closure, catch rates for coho have quadrupled in the past week, raising concerns about the impact on wild fish listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, said a state news release.
High catch rates are an issue even though anglers fishing the lower Columbia River may retain only hatchery-reared coho, identifiable by a clipped adipose fin, Cindy LeFleur, Columbia River policy coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in the release.
“We know that some wild fish die after they are released, so we need to be cautious,” LeFleur said in the release. “Mortality rates for wild coho are strictly limited under the ESA.”
Before the season started, fishery managers anticipated that anglers would catch approximately 4,000 hatchery coho during this year’s Buoy 10 fishery. But if current catch rates continue, they estimate anglers will harvest 8,700 to 10,800 hatchery coho by the time the fishery closes at the end of the day Saturday.
The Buoy 10 area extends 16 miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point Line.