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Ecology and salmon related articles

Spring Run Still Coming on Strong

by Bill Rudolph
NW Fishletter, June 5, 2014

Erika Holmes holds a bright spring chinook she caught on the lower Columbia River. (Jeff Holmes) Columbia Basin harvest managers have bumped up their spring Chinook forecast to 234,000 fish (to river mouth) from 224,000 and gave commercial and sport fishers more time on the river. For the past two weeks, daily counts have been running above the 10-year average.

By June 3, more than 194,000 spring Chinook had been counted at Bonneville Dam, more than twice last year's tally. About 27,000 jacks had also been counted, better than the 10-year average of 23,000. About 35,000 jacks had been counted by the same time in 2013.

By June 3, nearly 69,000 springers had passed Lower Granite Dam on the lower Snake River, along with 10,000 jacks, about 6,000 below last year's jack count, but still better than the 10-year average.

Almost 19,000 spring Chinook have been counted at Priest Rapids Dam, much better than last year's 11,000-fish return by now. About 18,000 have been tallied at Rock Island Dam, which gives evidence that migrating adults are having no problem passing Wanapum Dam's modified fish ladders.

Commercial gillnetters in the lower Columbia were slated to go fishing again on the evening of June 4, while the season for sporties is running all the way to June 15.

By June 3, the gillnetters had harvested about 3,000 spring Chinook from mainstem and select areas. Recreational fishers had reeled in nearly 15,000. Together, the non-Indian fisheries were still about 4,000 fish short of their allowable catch.

Treaty fishers above Bonneville Dam got more gillnet time as well. The treaty fishery, which also includes ceremonial, hook and line, and platform components, was expected to catch about 23,000 springers by June 6.

"The tribes expect that consumer demand for these spring Chinook will be high and that the fishery will provide important economic benefits to tribal fishers, tribal communities and the communities along the Columbia River in the Zone 6 area," said the tribal harvest managers' May 19 fact sheet. Prices are at a premium, especially since the vaunted Copper River king season has been something of a bust so far. It was reported that tribal fishers were selling Chinook to the public in the $10/pound range for whole fish.

"Commercial fishing serves an important purpose to allow consumers in the Northwest and around the country access to the fishery resource that rate payers and tax payers help fund," said the notice from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "The tribes also view commercial fisheries to be consistent with overall efforts to restore weak salmon runs throughout the basin."

Bill Rudolph
Spring Run Still Coming on Strong
NW Fishletter, June 5, 2014

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