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What gillnet removal means for sportfishing on the Columbia River

The decision by Oregon and Washington to remove gillnets from the Columbia River will, simply put, mean more fish for sportfishing.

Don’t expect much to change immediately, but over the course of the next few years, the commercial fleet will be transitioned to the side channels of Youngs Bay on the Oregon side and Deep River on the Washington side.  Fisheries managers plan to look for additional net pet locations, but for the time being, these locations will house the remaining fishing for the gillnet fleet.

Allocation has always been an issue between sport and commercial gillnets on the Columbia River.  That fight, at least for the time being, appears to be over, but the transition period to permanent allocation levels will take a few years.

  • Spring Chinook allocation will shift from 60 to 65% sport catch in 2013 to 80% by 2017.
  • Summer Chinook allocation will go from 50 to 60% sport catch in the 2013 and 2014 seasons to 70% sport catch in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.  The 2017 split will be determined later by Oregon and Washington.

Of course there’s still much to come out in the wash on this decision like Sockeye and Steelhead allocation.  But  if you consider many of the opportunities coming to fruition from the Chief Joseph hatchery and the new allocation splits, Columbia River sportfishermen have a lot to be excited about.