Salmon Runs Look to Meet or Exceed Forecastby Idaho Fish and Game
Idaho Press-Tribune, May 3, 2014
Although current counts of the upriver 2014 spring Chinook run at Bonneville are only reflective of the front half of the run, those numbers have been robust and Idaho's fishery managers are now fairly certain the run will come in at, or above the preseason forecast. That is good news for Idaho salmon anglers because the forecast already predicted the sixth highest return in the last 20 years. Thousands of salmon are passing Bonneville Dam each day, including Wednesday, when workers counted 17,409 Chinook (the 17th highest single-day count on record).
Most of the Idaho-bound salmon counted in the front half of the run are headed to the Clearwater River basin, the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River and the Rapid River Hatchery in the Salmon River basin near Riggins. There are already enough spring Chinook over Bonneville Dam to support good fisheries in the Clearwater and Lower Salmon rivers and more are on the way. It is still too early to pin down how many fish will be available for harvest, but it's safe to say it will be significantly more than were available in 2013 -- especially in the Clearwater River. Through April 30, an estimated 10,000 hatchery Chinook salmon destined for the Clearwater basin have already crossed Bonneville Dam. Last year, only 6,700 Clearwater River hatchery Chinook crossed during the entire run.
Salmon fisheries opened in the Clearwater River basin, Hells Canyon of the Snake River and reaches of the lower Salmon River on April 26. Fishery managers expect good numbers of salmon in the lower Clearwater River by this weekend and fishable numbers of salmon should start showing up in the lower Salmon River about one week to 10 days later.
Chinook returning to the South Fork Salmon River and hatcheries in the upper Salmon River typically arrive at Bonneville Dam during the latter part of the run. Managers are optimistic those stocks will also meet preseason expectations based on this year's performance of the earlier arriving stocks. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider fishery proposals for the South Fork Salmon River and areas in the upper Salmon River on May 15.
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