More Spring Chinook Counted at
by Mark Yuasa
The seasons are based upon a 2015 Columbia River spring chinook prediction of 312,600.
The largest spring chinook return on record was 440,336 (364,600 was the forecast) in 2001, and the worst was 12,792 (12,000) in 1995.
If the run comes in as predicted it would be the sixth-largest return since 1980, and overall the spring chinook forecast is well ahead of the 10-year average of 178,000.
The majority of the 2015 forecast is an upriver-bound run of 232,500 compared to 227,000 last year and an actual return of 242,600.
The spring chinook fishery creates a huge turnout beginning in February as anglers come out of the winter doldrums. The chinook's prized red-fleshed meat and high Omega 3 oil content rival that of the popular Copper River kings from Alaska.
Fishing in the lower river is often slow in early March, and then ramps up nearing the closure date. The peak return occurs in late April or early May.
Columbia River wild spring chinook are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act, and fishery managers set stringent catch limits on sport, and tribal and non-tribal commercial catches.
In the sport fishery, anglers can keep only hatchery-marked spring chinook, which are identified by a clipped adipose fin located on top near the tail.
Here Come the Fish: First Upriver Spring Chinook of 2015 Counted at Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin, 2/27/15
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