Chinook Return in 2002 will Allow for Fishingby The Associated Press
The Idaho Statesman, December 18, 2001
Run could be second-largest since 1938
LEWISTON -- It likely will pale in comparison with the 2001 run, but the number of spring chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River and its tributaries in 2002 figures to be large enough to support fishing seasons.
If the run lives up to preliminary predictions, it will be the second-largest since 1938.
Fisheries biologist Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in Vancouver, Wash., said state, federal and tribal salmon managers are expecting 333,700 upriver spring chinook to return to the mouth of the Columbia River in the spring.
Most of those -- about 251,700 -- will be 4-year-old fish that have spent two years in the ocean and should weigh between 12 and 15 pounds when they return to fresh water.
But the 2002 return also should have a higher percentage of 5-year-old fish that have spent three years in the ocean. Those fish will weigh between 16 and 30 pounds when they return, Hymer said.
Estimates are not yet available on how many chinook are expected to make it to the Snake River.
Upriver spring chinook arriving at the mouth of the Columbia are destined for the middle and upper stretches of the river as well as the Snake River system.
Hymer said the Snake and its tributaries likely will see harvestable numbers.
This spring, more than 417,000 spring chinook returned to the mouth of the Columbia River, the most since counting started in 1938 with the completion of Bonneville Dam.
The return kept sport and tribal anglers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho busy and cash registers ringing in communities such as Lewiston, Orofino and Riggins.
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