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Home arrow Features arrow Outdoors arrow Fine weekend for fishing

Fine weekend for fishing

This is free fishing weekend throughout Oregon

Snow continues to clog alpine trails and lakes in Northeastern Oregon, but anglers who prefer prey larger than mountain trout have more options than usual.

Fishing for hatchery-raised chinook salmon is open now on the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam, and in the Powder River between Mason Dam and the Hughes Lane Bridge in Baker City.

Snow continues to clog alpine trails and lakes in Northeastern Oregon, but anglers who prefer prey larger than mountain trout have more options than usual.

Fishing for hatchery-raised chinook salmon is open now on the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam, and in the Powder River between Mason Dam and the Hughes Lane Bridge in Baker City.

And starting June 13, anglers can try to hook hatchery chinook on two of the Snake’s other tributaries, the Wallowa and Imnaha rivers.

Salmon anglers need both a fishing license and a combined angling tag.

Except for this weekend.

This is free fishing weekend in Oregon, and on Saturday and Sunday anglers don’t need a fishing license or a combined angling tag, even if they catch and keep a hatchery salmon.

(Anglers who already have a salmon tag don’t need to use it if they land a salmon on Saturday or Sunday.)

Anglers 13 and younger never need a fishing license in Oregon (although they do need a tag if they want to keep a salmon.)

This is the eighth year in the past nine in which enough hatchery chinook returned from the ocean to warrant a sport-fishing season on the Snake, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

And it’s the fourth year out of the past six in which ODFW has released surplus hatchery chinook in the Powder River.

The agency intends to let loose about 200 salmon — most of them adults rather than the smaller “jacks” — in the river just below Mason Dam during the next few weeks, said Tim Bailey, a fish biologist at ODFW’s office in La Grande.

The first truckload of 75 fish was released on Thursday, Bailey said. ODFW won’t plant any salmon in the Powder in Baker City, as it did in 2004 and 2008, because anglers have had better luck hooking salmon in the pool below the dam, Bailey said.

The salmon season on the Powder runs through Sept. 1. The daily bag limit is two fish.

The situation is simple for anglers on the Powder because all the salmon are hatchery-raised fish, which have a clipped adipose fin.

But in the Snake there are both hatchery and wild chinook — and anglers can legally keep only hatchery fish.

Wild salmon, which have an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed.

The salmon season on the Snake started May 30 and probably will continue for at least a few more weeks.

The river is open from just below Hells Canyon Dam down to Dug Bar boat ramp.

Tips for recognizing hatchery fish are available in the Oregon fishing regulations (which are available at the ODFW office in Baker City, 2995 Hughes Lane, and at many sporting goods stores) or online at www.dfw.state.or.us.

The daily bag limit in the Snake is two adult hatchery fish and two hatchery jacks.

Anglers who catch their daily limit of adult chinook must stop there; they’re not allowed to keep fishing for jacks.

 
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