Columbia Fall Run Tops
by Bill Rudolph
By Oct. 9, the blowout fall Chinook run edged past 911,000 fish at Bonneville Dam. With 105,000 fall jacks added in, the run has topped a million fish, which is by far the largest return since the dam was built in 1938.
The 10-year average of 372,000 was surpassed over a month ago, with most of the run's strength coming from the upriver bright segment, which had been predicted preseason to return at a strong 435,000 fish. By Sept. 13, the record 2003 run of 610,000 upriver brights had been eclipsed.
The run has slowed, but several thousand fish are still passing the dam every day. By Oct. 7, when managers released their last inseason run update, they kept their latest revision of the upriver run size from the previous week -- 832,500.
According to preliminary numbers compiled by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, about 42 percent of this year's upriver run is made up of fish that have spent the past three years in the ocean -- fish that went to sea in 2010. That's a big difference from 2012's return, when 3-ocean fish made up only 18 percent of the return.
Tribal fishers have caught more than 227,000 fall Chinook above Bonneville Dam. By Oct. 7, it was reported they had maxed out on their allotment of B-run steelhead, whose poor returns this year were unexpected.
Managers had recently downgraded the B-run steelhead to about 10,700 from a preseason prediction of about three times that. According to preliminary figures released Oct. 7, the tribal fishers had actually caught 47 more steelhead than the 1,391 allowed this year by ESA-management guidelines.
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