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Columbia River Summer Chinook, Sockeye Run
Near 40-Year High

by Bill Rudolph
NW Fishletter, July 20, 2004

Tribal fish managers are calling this summer's fish run on the Columbia one of the top five since 1957. The latest estimates for the summer chinook and sockeye numbers stand at 96,400 (103,000 pre-season), and 125,000 (80,000 pre-season), respectively.

By July 12, about 122,000 sockeye had passed Bonneville Dam, the largest count since 1987. Most are headed for the upper Columbia, but 154 ESA-listed Snake River sockeye are estimated to return to Idaho from the large number of juveniles released two years ago. By last week, about 105 sockeye had been counted at Lower Granite Dam, the halfway point on their nearly 900-mile migration back to Idaho's Redfish Lake. That's the second highest number since 1983.

Tribal fishers announced July 13 they had caught about 5,000 summer chinook and 2,800 sockeye, and proposed several more days of gillnetting to nab more sockeye. With the run declining fast, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission estimated that only a few hundred more sockeye would be caught.

The tribes are allotted 5 percent of the summer chinook run, but PIT-tag analysis shows that it's likely they caught more than their share of the listed Snake River component of that run, which generally appears earlier than the upper Columbia fish.

The allowable non-Indian impact to the summer chinook run is only 1 percent, split about 50-50 between sporties and commercial fishermen. An early July analysis estimated that the non-Indian takes were about 800 chinook short of the allowable level.

The summer runs are counted at Bonneville Dam throughout June and July. As a rule, these runs are much smaller than spring or fall runs on the river, but they have benefited from improved ocean conditions, as well as from other stocks over the past few years.

Bill Rudolph
Columbia River Summer Chinook, Sockeye Run Near 40-Year High
NW Fishletter, July 20, 2004

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