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Ecology and salmon related articles

Columbia River Fall Chinook
Return Downgraded

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin, September 23, 2016

Wild Steelhead Past Bonneville Dam Below Average

Tyler Barrong of Spokane lands a 34.25-inch fall Chinook while salmon fishing near the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers on Sept. 16, 2014. (Shawn Barrong photo) The expected number of fall chinook to the Columbia River mouth was downgraded again this week to 802,200 fish, 84 percent of the preseason forecast, but the Group-B steelhead forecast was upgraded to 38,200 fish, about 50 percent more than preseason numbers.

The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which forecasts fish runs that are used to determine allowed harvest in the Columbia River, met Monday to make further adjustments to its preseason forecasts for both fall chinook and Group-B steelhead.

Just last week it recalculated downward its estimate of fall chinook to 860,300 fish, 90 percent of its preseason forecast of 960,200 chinook, but put off adjusting the Group-B steelhead forecast until this week when it anticipated that it would have more passage information.

The new forecast includes 478,200 upriver bright chinook and 52,300 Bonneville Pool Hatchery tule chinook (the preseason forecast was for 579,600 URB's and 100,700 BPH). Daily counts this week have continued to be less than expected, said the two-state Columbia River Compact's Fall Fact Sheet #7,

Though fewer chinook expected in the river, a small run of Group-B wild steelhead and slow passage at Bonneville Dam, the Compact yesterday approved extending recreational fishing from Warrior Rock near St. Helens, Ore. to Buoy 10 through September, allowing anglers to retain hatchery chinook. The Compact also approved three more fishing days for commercial seining in zone 3 and commercial gillnetting through September in the treaty Indian fishery in Zone 6 (see Compact Sept. 22 Action Notice,

"The Group-B steelhead forecast has a downside," said Jeff Whisler of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and chair of TAC. "It is that the wild steelhead component (of Group-B) is only 5,200 fish, just 70 percent of the preseason forecast." The preseason forecast was for 7,400 wild Group-B fish.

TAC now estimates a total steelhead run of 166,100 fish to Bonneville Dam, far fewer than the pre-season forecast of 256,200 fish. The new forecast includes 127,900 Group-A steelhead (TAC's preseason forecast was 230,400 fish) and 38,200 Group-B steelhead (the preseason forecast was 25,800 fish).

Much of that run has already passed Bonneville Dam. Passage at the dam as of Wednesday was 160,405 steelhead (both Group-A and Group-B). Some 45,658 of those fish are wild. Last year on this day 240,071 steelhead had passed Bonneville and of those 88,896 were wild. The 10-year average is 321,474 steelhead, with 107,347 wild fish.

About 60 percent of Group-B steelhead that migrate into the Clearwater River has already passed Bonneville, said Pete Hassemer of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which "means that 40 percent of the wild run is still downstream and that's good."

For definitions of Group-A and Group-B fish, see CBB, August 26, 2016, Good Fall Chinook Return, But Slow Fishing, Prompts Liberalizing Catch Restriction On Unmarked Fish

Some 394,540 adult fall chinook and 45,788 jacks have passed Bonneville as of Wednesday. Last year on that date, 730,639 adult fall chinook and 56,348 jacks had passed. The 10-year average is 412,939 adults and 61,369 jacks.

Just a week ago the Compact extended fishing through Sept. 22 for hatchery marked chinook only, with all wild fish to be released unharmed.

Last week TAC had downgraded the upriver coho salmon preseason forecast from 47,000 to 35,000. As of Wednesday, 26,144 adults and 3,417 jacks had passed Bonneville. Last year for that date the count was 22,455 adults and 2,953 jacks. The 10-year average is 66,503 adults and 3,926 jacks.

According to the Compact Fact Sheet, anglers in the Buoy 10 fishery have caught 17,673 chinook and 8,522 coho from 90,671 angler trips through September 18. This fishery previously had been scheduled to be open for hatchery chinook through Sept. 22, with a reopening Oct. 1. Season total catch projections are 19,450 chinook.

The lower Columbia River recreational fishery downstream of Warrior Rock had been scheduled to be open for hatchery chinook through Sept. 22, with a reopening Oct. 1. Season total catch estimates are for 12,500 chinook.

Catch estimates for the proposed fishery through September 30 downstream of Warrior Rock is for fewer than 1,000 chinook, bringing the season total chinook to 19,500 for Buoy 10 and 27,200 for the LCR mainstem fishery.

The LCR recreational fishery from Warrior Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam is scheduled to remain open for Chinook through Dec. 31. Season total catch projections are estimated at 13,800 chinook.

The recreational fishery from Bonneville Dam upstream to the Highway 395 bridge is scheduled to remain open through Dec. 31. The season total catch projection for this fishery is 6,700 chinook.

The Fact Sheet said that "objectives for the recreational fisheries have been met, although actual catch has been less than modeled preseason, especially in the Buoy 10 fishery."

After Oct. 1, recreational anglers downstream of Warrior Rock will be allowed to keep both marked (hatchery) and unmarked fish.

Select area commercial gillnetting in the lower Columbia River is ongoing with a harvest so far of 12,241 chinook and 23,478 coho, a total that is lower than average.

Three days were added to the experimental seine fisheries in the lower Columbia River -- Sept. 27, 29 and 30. Landings through Sept. 21 are 982 adult chinook (36 percent of the 2,700 chinook set aside for the seine fishery) and 361 adult coho (18 percent of the 2,000 coho set aside).

The Tribes added a sixth week -- now through September -- to its commercial Treaty Indian fall gillnet fishery. The anticipated harvest for all six weeks is 149,235 adult chinook, 108,540 of which are up-river brights, and 8,614 steelhead, 2,248 are wild.

After Sept. 30, the Tribes would still have 11 percent (34,920) of their allowed total harvest of 143,460 up-river bright chinook, and 14 percent (5,392) of their allowed total harvest of 7,640 wild steelhead.

Related Pages:
Chinook Forecast Decline, Low Steelhead, Coho Return: Recreational Fishing Shut Down On Mainstem by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 10/21/16
Fall Chinook Run Downgraded Again: Commercial Gillnets Reach Limit, Tribes Continue To Fish by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 10/7/16
Fall Chinook, Coho Fishing Open For All In Most Areas Of Columbia River by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 8/12/16
Fall Chinook Run Size Downgraded For Fourth Straight Week; Early Run Coho Far Below Average by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 10/7/16
States Extend Buoy 10 Fishing, Snake River Fishing Opens; Coho, Steelhead Passage Slow by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 9/9/16

Related Sites:
Higher Than Average Fall Chinook Run On The Way; Coho, Steelhead To Be Lower Than 10-Year Average by Staff, Columbia Basin Bulletin 8/5/16

Columbia River Fall Chinook Return Downgraded
Columbia Basin Bulletin, September 23, 2016

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