Another Big Fall Chinook Return Predictedby CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - March 5, 2004
Last year's adult return of fall chinook salmon to the Columbia River exceeded everyone's expectations when 885,000 funneled up the river towards the Hanford Reach, the Snake River and hatcheries and spawning grounds elsewhere.
Fisheries experts who gauge the strength of a run based on relationships with recent year's returns had predicted in preseason that the late summer chinook influx would number 622,600. But the actual 2003 return reached the largest total since since 1948.
Those who enjoyed the bounty hope the experts' estimation is conservative again. The preseason fall chinook forecast released last month predicts 621,800 fall chinook will return -- almost identical to last year's prediction, though the stock composition is expected to be different. Such a return would be the fifth largest since 1948.
The 2004 upriver bright fall chinook run, which includes the Hanford Reach spawners, is expected to total 292,200 fish. That would be the fourth straight year of runs over 200,000 and 50 percent better than the 10-year average of 189,100. The 2003 return was the second largest since 1964 -- 373,200 (the preseason forecast was 280,400 last year).
The 2003 return of 180,600 Bonneville Pool Hatchery (tules) fall chinook was the largest on record (since 1964) and nearly double the preseason forecast. This year's tule return is expected to be 138,000 fish -- down from the previous two years but more than double the 10-year average of 67,000.
The Bonneville upriver bright is expected to be 40,000 this year, half of last year's total of 82,700. Such a return would well exceed the 10-year average of 30,900 adults.
The Bonneville pool upriver bright component is expected to number 50,400 adults this summer compared to an actual return of 67,500 in 2003. If this year's run comes in as expected it would be the second largest "PUB" return in the database (since 1987) and well above the 10-year average of 33,800.
The lower river hatchery portion of the run is expected to be about half of the size of last year's return -- 77,100 in 2004 compared to 155,000 in 2003. Such a return would still match the 10-year average of 75,100 fish.
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