Yakima River opens for spring season | outdoor and recreation

For the first time in several years, the Yakima River will open for springtime chinook salmon fishing. The opening was announced last week by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, after biologists did some looking at the numbers and decided there should be enough hatchery-bred salmon to return to allow for a season.

Approximately 4,680 adult Chinook salmon are now expected to return to Yakima in the coming weeks, with 2,840 fat-rinsed vacuum salmon.

The season actually opened at the bottom of the Yakima River last Friday, May 6. This section of the river is described as from the Highway 240 bridge in Richland upstream to the State Route 241 (Sunnyside-Mapton) bridge.

Another section of the river opens on Monday, May 16th. This part of the river that is open for salmon fishing runs from Union Gap all the way down to Rosa Dam. Officially, the boundary is from the Highway 82 bridge in Union Gap to the BNSF Railroad Bridge, approximately 600 feet from Rosa Dam.

Some other regulations for the spring salmon season in Yakima include a daily limit of two Chinook hatcheries, with a minimum size of 12 inches. End gear can have two single-bladed non-pronged hooks with a point-to-shank hook gap of 3/4″ or less. Bait is allowed and anglers can use two fishing rods when fishing for salmon if they purchase a $14 bipolar endorsement on their fishing licenses.

Fishing from boats equipped with an internal combustion engine is only permitted from the I-82 bridge at Union Gap to the eastbound I-82 bridge at Selah Gap. Boats equipped with an internal combustion engine can only be used for transportation upstream of the Selah Gap Bridge.

There is one area closed to fishing at the top of the river near Yakima. This enclosed area is located 400 feet upstream from the upper side of the Yakima Avenue/Terrace Heights Road Bridge, including an adjacent area and downstream of Fish Barrier Rack #2 at Rosa Wasteway adjacent to Morton & Sons Inc.

As in past seasons, the success of salmon fishing in both parts of Yakima will be determined first by what happens in the runoff. In some years, the river ran so high and muddy that it was difficult to fish. The cooler temperatures should help make the river at least some form of fishing, but heavy rainfall in the mountains may affect that.

Most of the salmon caught in the Yakima River in previous years came from anglers fishing from the bank under the deadline below Rosa Dam. The most productive technique has been to fish under a bobber, allowing it to drift through some of the deeper, softer waters where the salmon is keeping it.

The best baits include salmon roe, tuna balls (tuna wrapped in cheesecloth), and dyed prawns or shrimp cone.

Another option for fishing along the open river is to do it by boat or inflatable rafts, which help fishermen reach waters that are difficult to reach from the bank. In the past, we’ve been fortunate to support diving lures like Mag Lips in water confinement. Lures and reels drifting along the boat will also work.

It’s good to see the salmon running in Yakima come back in numbers large enough to allow for some fishing. Let’s hope that operations continue to grow in the future.

In other spring salmon fishing news, numbers of returning spring salmon were strong enough to allow the daily limit at Drano Lake to rise to two mature salmon from hatcheries per day. Officials lowered the limit for adult salmon to one per fisherman per day earlier this year to help ensure that spawning flocks at Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery would provide for their needs.

With over 85,000 spring Chinooks swimming through the fish ladders in Bonneville so far, anglers working in the waters of the Wind River, Drano Lake and Clicitat River have had some good success this spring.

With numbers reaching over 13,000 over Bonneville in a single day, the counts on Bonneville were well ahead of the 10-year average for a chinook spring, prompting droves of fishermen to hit the water in an effort to put a prized spring salmon or two into the cooler.

Censuses in Bonneville have slowed down a bit in recent days, but good hunting should continue in this part of the area for another week or two.

Fishing was so good in the spring on the Columbia main trunk above Bonneville, that officials closed that part of the river to salmon fishing last week because the fishermen met the quota for the number of fish allowed to catch. However, the Snake River is still open, and fishing from Pasco all the way to Idaho should be fine with salmon moving up the river.

Check the regulations for which parts of the eel are open to salmon fishing at this time.

It’s not always like spring, but it’s definitely time for spring salmon fishing in the Northwest. This year, as a bonus, local anglers will once again get the chance to hunt a beautiful Chinook in the Yakima River.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: