Continued surprise fish returns at Bonneville Dam brought yet another extension of sportfishing in the lower Columbia River last week.
Oregon and Washington biologists approved recreational salmon and steelhead fishing through the end of July from the dam downriver to the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The extension bridges a season previously scheduled to end Wednesday, July 13 all the way to Aug. 1, when fall fishing seasons open.
For the next two weeks, the daily limits remain the same: Two adult salmonids per day; chinook and steelhead must be fin-clipped and only one steelhead is allowed. All sockeye are considered adults but need not be fin-clipped.
Higher-than-predicted counts at Bonneville have included spring and summer chinook and, especially, sockeye, now predicted to arrive in record numbers and more than three times the original forecast.
Summer steelhead numbers are also significantly improved over the forecast, but biologists are waiting to see if the run will tip the scale enough to relax restrictions on the Deschutes River and other waters.
In a related development on July 13, state and federal agencies announced a closure of all salmon fishing north of the mouth of the Columbia River and within a strip of ocean off the Washington coast to Leadbetter Point. The decision was caused by high chinook salmon catches in that zone.
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