the film

Outdoors Blog

by Allen Thomas
The Columbian, February 25, 2010

About this blog: From time to time, I pick up information about outdoors topics that don't necessarily fit in a story,
but are interesting. So, intermittently, check and you'll find these tidbits:

SUMMER CHINOOK FORECAST: In my zeal to cover all things spring chinook related, I think I forgot to report the forecast for upper Columbia River summer chinook. The number is 88,800, which will be the best since 2002 if it materializes.

Summer chinook cross Bonneville Dam between June 16 and July 31, and are headed for the Wenatchee, Okanogan, Methow, Similkameen, Chelan and Entiat rivers.

They are a great fish, like spring chinook only 10 pounds bigger, and shaped more like footballs.

The big discussion each year is if the fishery should be only for fin-clipped summer chinook, which would extend the season, or continue allowing the retention of any fish.

There was a high jack return of summer chinook in 2009, just like with spring chinook. The forecast is the average of seven models used.

Also worth mentioning is the sockeye forecast is 125,000, which includes 14,300 to the Wenatchee, 110,300 to the Okanogan and 600 to the Snake River. A year ago, the run was 179,000.

STURGEON PREDATION: Fishery officials say the 28 percent drop in the lower Columbia legal-size sturgeon population and the five-year decline in the number of young sturgeon downstream of Bonneville Dam likely is tied to increased predation by sea lions.

Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows sea lions consumed at least 1,700 sturgeon immediately below the dam in 2009, the highest number on record.

"This trend is especially troubling because sea lions – particularly Steller sea lions – are targeting large breeding females, which produce the eggs for future generations," said Brad James, sturgeon biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Those fish are off-limits to recreational and commercial fisheries."

SKEWED DATA: The Columbia River treaty tribes suggest sport fishermen are not totally forthright in how they report their fishing activity for spring chinook salmon.

"The tribes think that asking sport fishermen to accurately report the number of wild fish handled and released is unreliable and inaccurate way of estimating the number of fish handled in a mark selective fishery," Herb Jackson, a member of the Nez Perce fish and wildlife committee, told the Columbia River Compact in mid-February.

"There is incentive for fishermen to under report the number of unmarked fish that are caught and released as this will minimize the calculated wild fish mortality in the fishery," he added.

The tribes want the states to start direct monitoring of the handle of wild fish as is done with on-board observers in the tangle net non-Indian commercial fishery, Jackson said.

Allen Thomas
Outdoors Blog
The Columbian, February 25, 2010

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