Sections of the Columbia River were recently closed earlier than the end of the season for sockeye salmon fishing.
Sockeye salmon fishing season will be closed early for the Columbia River from Rocky Reach Dam to Chief Joseph Dam. Anglers will not be able to keep sockeye they catch from Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam an hour after sunset.
Warmer water conditions on the Columbia is the reason for the closure according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This has resulted in high mortality rates of the fish returning to the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.
“Never in my entire (29-year) career have I seen anything like this,” said Jeff Korth, department regional fisheries manager in Ephrata. “A minimum of 300,000 adult salmon have died or will perish going up the river before reaching spawning grounds.”
“Fish destined to return to the Okanogan River are staging in the Columbia River above Rocky Reach Dam,” according to officials. The sockeye salmon fishing closure will remain effective to protect the migrating fish and allow them to travel to spawning grounds once the river temperature cools off.
This season closure does not apply to Chinook salmon which are less susceptible to warmer water.
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