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Commercial fishing season in effect, watch for gill nets

September 3, 2005

Commercial gill net fishing season for Treaty Indians on the Columbia River is currently in effect from Bonneville to McNary dams. The seasons, lasting from Aug. 29 - Sept. 2 and from Sept. 6 - 10, allow gill-netting and the sale of Chinook, Sockeye and Coho salmon, steelhead, walleye, carp, and chad.

Due to the presence of hundreds of gill nets in the water, spanning deep underwater and marked only by small buoys, windsurfers, kiteboarders, swimmers, boaters and other aquatic recreationists are urged to use extreme caution around any buoys or net markers in the Columbia River.

According to Inter-tribal Fisheries Enforcement Officer Brent Ocheskey, nets can be placed anywhere in the river between Boneville and McNary dams. Popular net locations like Spring Creek, Swell City, Doug’s Beach, Viento, Pirates Cove and Koberg Beach are also popular windsurfing, boating and swimming spots so people need to be aware and cautious of submerged nets.

Commercial fishing seasons are dictated by the Columbia River Compact agencies of Oregon and Washington. Based on fish counts from dams along the river, agency officials decide when, where and how long seasons will last, what can be retained and sold and other regulations. According to Ocheskey, this fall’s fish runs are closer to average than this spring’s unusually slow run.

“The salmon are picking up,” said Ocheskey. “Overall, it’s probably not as good as last fall, but it’s going to be close. There are also good numbers of steelhead this fall.”

For non-commercial fisherman in the Columbia Zone, the steelhead season is open for adipose fin-clipped steelhead, adipose fin-clipped Jack Chinook salmon, Chinook and Coho salmon until Dec. 31. When fishing for salmon and adipose fin-clipped steelhead, a single-point hook is required for all non-buoyant lures. Complete rules and regulations are listed in the Oregon Hunting and Fishing Regulations Handbook or online at www.dfw.state.or.us.

Anyone witnessing illegal or suspicious gill-netting activity can contact the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Enforcement’s toll free hotline at 1-800-487-FISH (3474).

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