Sport fishing for salmon and steelhead trout in the lower Columbia River extended until the end of July

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Bill Monroe / Oregonlive.com (TNS)

Continued surprise fish returns at Bonneville Dam on Wednesday prompted a further expansion of sport fishing in the lower Columbia River.

Oregon and Washington biologists have approved recreational fishing for salmon and rainbow trout Thursday through late July from the dam downstream to the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The extension bridges a season that was supposed to end Wednesday until August 1, when the fall fishing seasons open.

For the next two weeks, the daily limits remain the same: two adult salmonids per day; chinook and rainbow trout must be trimmed and only one rainbow trout is allowed. All sockeye salmon are considered adults but do not need to be trimmed.

Higher than expected counts at Bonneville included spring and summer chinook and, in particular, sockeye salmon, which are now expected to arrive in record numbers and more than three times the original forecast.

Summer rainbow trout numbers are also significantly improved from forecast, but biologists are waiting to see if the run-up will tip the scales enough to ease restrictions on the Deschutes River and other waters.

In a related development late Wednesday, state and federal agencies announced the closure of all salmon fishing north of the mouth of the Columbia River and in a stretch of ocean off the Washington coast up to Leadbetter Point. The decision was caused by the high catches of chinook salmon in this area.

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