Spring Chinook season opens in Hells Canyon on May 17

Snake River- Below Hells Canyon Reservoir

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

ENTERPRISE, Ore. – Spring Chinook season opened on the Snake River in Hells Canyon on May 17 from the Dug Bar boat ramp to the boundary below Hells Canyon Dam.

Snake River spring Chinook are currently migrating up the main stem Columbia River and arriving in the Oregon section of the Snake River. "While we aren't expecting a lot of fish, there is a healthy public interest in this fishery and have decided to open so people can take advantage of that opportunity," said Kyle Bratcher, ODFW District Fish Biologist in Enterprise. "We're expecting anglers will catch mostly jacks with the occasional adult," added Bratcher.

During the 2018 run year, collections of adult spring Chinook salmon at hatcheries in Idaho and Hells Canyon came up short of what was needed for ongoing production which prevented the release of juvenile spring Chinook into Hells Canyon in 2020. Because of that, very few adults are expected in 2022. However, current counts of jacks are strong at Bonneville Dam which suggests they could be available in this fishery.

The daily bag limit will be four hatchery Chinook per day of which only one may be an adult (adults are Chinook salmon over 24 inches long). Anglers must cease fishing for all salmon once they have retained one adult hatchery Chinook or four hatchery jack salmon, whichever comes first. Barbless hooks, an angling license, a combined angling tag, and a Columbia Basin Endorsement are required when angling for salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon in the Snake River. All other 2021 sport fishing regulations apply.

"This year, hatchery Chinook salmon returning to Hells Canyon will not be used for broodstock so all returning fish are available for harvest," Bratcher said. "This fishing season will provide Oregon anglers an opportunity to try to catch some of these fish."

Though broodstock will not be collected at Hells Canyon Dam in 2022, it is expected that production goals will be met elsewhere within the Snake Basin that will provide juveniles for future release at Hells Canyon Dam.

So far this year, modest numbers of spring Chinook have been counted migrating upstream past Bonneville Dam, and the counts of returning fish are much better than the low returns the last several years. Fishing for spring Chinook salmon in the Imnaha and Grande Ronde River basins remains closed. However, with improved counts, angling opportunities may be considered in Lookingglass Creek, the Wallowa River, and the Imnaha River. Fishery managers will monitor the run and assess these fishery options as the fish arrive.

For the latest on NE Oregon and Snake River fishing in-season regulation changes, visit


OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Thursday, May 12th, 2022

John Day River: Steelhead fishing remains closed in rivers and streams within the John Day Basin
Hood River: Spring Chinook fishing is currently open on the Hood River
Laurance Lake: The road to Laurance Lake is currently closed
Clackamas River: The river is high but dropping
Clear Lake: Will be stocked this week
Detroit Reservoir: Pretty much all techniques will catch fish
Green Peter Reservoir: This reservoir is filling with the recent rains
Hills Creek Reservoir: Hills Creek Reservoir was last stocked the week
Sandy River: The river is running high but dropping
Timber Linn Lake: Will be stocked this week
Nestucca River: Spring Chinook should be in the estuary and after recent higher flows
Siletz River: Conditions should improve as the river drops back into shape later this week
Trask River: The Trask River Spring Chinook are showing up
Wilson River: No reports of summer steelhead yet
Diamond Lake: Anglers are still finding a few fish
Emigrant Reservoir: Emigrant received its first trout stocking of the season
Howard Prairie Reservoir: The lake is ice-free, but access is limited
Lemolo Lake: Lemolo is just a few feet from being full.
Lost Creek Lake: There are some very nice holdover fish available
John C Boyle Reservoir: Fishing should improve this weekend with warmer weather
Lofton Reservoir: The boat ramp Is accessible
Sycan River: Snow will limit access to the river above Sycan Marsh.
Thief Valley Reservoir: Thief Valley Reservoir is now full