ODFW sets minimum Willamette forecast for allowing two rods at 34,000 adult hatchery spring Chinook

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

CLACKAMAS, Ore.—Anglers will be able to use their two-rod validation in the Willamette River this year for hatchery spring Chinook and all other fish except sturgeon, beginning March 1 downstream of Willamette Falls and May 1 upstream of Willamette Falls.

"Will two rods be allowed on the Willamette this year?" is one of the most frequently asked questions we get from anglers early in the new year," said John North, ODFW deputy fish division administrator.

Since two rods were first allowed in 2016, ODFW creel survey data show that its use has increased from approximately 25 to 40 percent of lower Willamette River spring Chinook anglers. As a result, the total fishery harvest rate associated with the allowance for two rods has also increased to a level that can impact ODFW's ability to meet overall hatchery escapement needs during years with low returns.

Recent analysis by ODFW staff indicates that a Willamette River spring Chinook return of 34,000 hatchery-origin adults at the Columbia River mouth generally results in meeting overall broodstock needs for the basin.

Using this metric, the two-rod validation will be allowed on the Willamette River when at least 34,000 adult Willamette hatchery spring Chinook are forecast to return to the mouth of the Columbia River.

The spring Chinook forecast is usually published on ODFW's Columbia River page in December, meaning next year, anglers should know the status of the two-rod allowance for the 2025 season in December 2024.

Forecasts in 12 of the last 15 years (including this year) have been sufficient to allow for the two-rod validation under this criteria, so ODFW anticipates allowing two rods most years.

"We want to be transparent and let anglers know about two rod as early as possible in the year, so they can decide whether they want to purchase the validation or not," North continued. "We're comfortable that this approach will provide added opportunity for anglers when there are enough surplus hatchery fish, while ensuring our ability to meet hatchery returns needed to maintain these programs."

The 2024 Columbia River spring-summer forecast anticipates 48,800 adult Willamette-origin spring Chinook will return to the mouth of the Columbia River this year. Of the total Willamette adult return, approximately 39,300 are expected to be hatchery-origin fish.

Above Willamette Falls, the two-rod allowance starts later to protect ESA-listed winter steelhead. "Typically, 90 percent of the winter steelhead run will have passed the Falls by May 1 while only a small percentage of the spring Chinook run will have—on average less than 15 percent," said Elise Kelley, ODFW district fish biologist for the South Willamette. "The May 1 date protects the majority of the steelhead run above the Falls."

The two-rod regulation follows:

Area: Lower Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls (including Multnomah Channel), and that portion of the Clackamas River downstream of the Highway 99 Bridge (just upstream of the confluence with the Willamette)
Species: Applies to all game and non-game fish (except sturgeon) when angling is open to hatchery Chinook, hatchery steelhead, trout, or warmwater game fish
Dates: March 1-Aug. 15, 2024

Area: Willamette River above Willamette Falls, including tributaries
Species: Applies to all game and non-game fish (except sturgeon) when angling is open to hatchery Chinook, hatchery steelhead, trout, or warmwater game fish 
Dates: May 1-July 31, 2024

Two-rod validations cost $28 for both residents and non-residents. Licensed anglers who purchase the validation can use two rods wherever regulations allow them, which is primarily in ponds and lakes.

Kids under the age of 12 do not need a validation to use a second rod in areas where two rods are authorized.

Anglers should always check for any in-season changes to permanent regulations by visiting the Recreation Report / Fishing Report for their zone and clicking the Regulation Updates tab, https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/willamette-zone#Regulation-Updates

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OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Wednesday, January 24th
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John Day River: Weather and river conditions have run the gamut over the past few weeks
Hood River: Steelhead counts over Bonneville have remained low through the first half of January
Detroit Reservoir: Plenty of rain and snow the last few weeks have brought reservoir levels up enough to allow boats to safely launch from Mongold boat ramp
Green Peter Reservoir: Green Peter is about 25 feet above the toe slope of Thistle Creek boat ramp
Santiam River ( North Fork) : Santiam River North Fork Report
Santiam River (South Fork): Currently flows are around 11,000 cfs at the Waterloo gauge
Kilchis River: The Kilchis is dropping today and should be in good shape in a day or two
Miami River: Seeing a fair number of wild fish showing up
Necanicum River: The Necanicum River has had fair fishing the past week
Nehalem River: The Nehalem is big and brown today and will likely be high and off color for the week
Nehalem River- North Fork: The North Fork Nehalem saw some good steelhead fishing late last week
Nestucca River: Fishing has been slow on the Nestucca
Trask River: The Trask River is big and brown today and looks like it will stay on the high side all week
Wilson River: The Wilson River saw some decent fishing on Saturday last weekend before blowing out again
Applegate River: The release from the dam is 1,500 cfs, and the temperature at release is 43F
Chetco River: Anglers are crossing their fingers as it appears flows in the Chetco may start to drop for an extended amount of time
Coos River: The steelhead rivers in the Coos Basin are either at a fishable level or should be fishable by the weekend
Coquille River: The North Fork Coquille River has been fishable this week
Emigrant Reservoir: Emigrant is still at 22 percent full and filling very slowly
Fish Lake : Fish Lake is 55 percent full and trout fishing on the ice should continue to be good
Rogue River- Lower: Prior to last weekend's high water, a few winter steelhead had been caught
Rogue River- Upper: Late summer steelhead moving into the hatchery are still available
Ana Reservoir: 6.4 lb. Hybrid at Ana Reservoir
Ana River: Fishing has been slow due to river fluctuations
Beulah Reservoir: Beulah Reservoir is currently 46 percent full
Blitzen River: Flows in the Blitzen have come up substantially in the last week
Burns Pond: The ice on Burns Pond is likely unsafe
Bully Creek Reservoir: Likely be some ice on Bully Creek but it is likely unsafe
Campbell Reservoir: The reservoir is not frozen and is filling fast
Gerber Reservoir: The reservoir is not frozen
Heart Lake: The lake is iced over, but ice thickness is unknown
Holbrook Reservoir: The lake is iced over, but ice thickness is unknown
John C Boyle Reservoir: The reservoir is now a river
Klamath River - Upper - OR: The lake is 2.7 feet below full pool and 57 percent full
Klamath River - Upper - OR: Removal of JC Boyle Dam has begun
Lake Of The Woods: The lake has thawed. There will likely be no ice fishing this year
Lost River: Cold water temperatures are affecting the fishing
Malheur Reservoir: Malheur Reservoir was sampled last fall and had some nice-size rainbows
Yellowjacket Lake: Recent sampling showed some nice healthy rainbow trout are still out there in Yellowjacket Reservoir