SALEM — Due to low returns, daily bag limits for hatchery summer steelhead have been reduced to one fish per day for the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.

The reduction went into effect Tuesday, Sept. 7.

Passage of steelhead at Bonneville Dam has been historically low and fisheries managers from Oregon, Idaho, and Washington are only expecting about 10,000 hatchery steelhead to pass Lower Granite Dam near Clarkston, Washington. The 10-year average for hatchery steelhead passage is about 70,000 fish. This means some hatchery programs in the Snake River Basin may struggle to collect the fish needed to spawn the next generation.

“The intent of reducing the bag limit to one fish per day is to ensure enough hatchery fish return to the trap at Hells Canyon Dam so we can meet production objectives,” said Kyle Bratcher, ODFW District fish biologist in Enterprise. “While we expect to narrowly meet broodstock collection goals, reducing the bag limit will allow us some breathing room if we come up short of our projections."

Summer steelhead are currently making their way through the main stem Columbia and Snake Rivers. While the steelhead season opened on Sept. 1, Bratcher doesn’t expect catch rates to pick up until the later end of the month. The best fishing is typically begins in October and continues throughout the winter.

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