Chinook Run Slows;
by Eric Barker
Counts on the Snake and Columbia rivers are getting better, officials report
Fisheries managers in the Columbia basin downgraded the spring chinook run forecast this week, but thus far fewer fish hasn't led to harvest restrictions.
In fact, fishing has been reopened in the lower Columbia River. The Technical Advisory Committee now expects 116,500 spring chinook to return at least as far as the mouth of the Columbia. The preseason forecast was 167,700.
Fisheries managers in Washington and Oregon determined the lower run size is still large enough to continue planned fisheries. Chris Donley, fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at Spokane, said the Snake River will be open today through Monday, depending on location.
"We still have about 600 fish to catch," Donley said. "Based on the downgrade, we can still fish to our 70 percent buffer, so we are good."
In Idaho, the state's harvest shares on the Clearwater, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers are coming into sharper focus, but uncertainty remains. Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said about 7,000 to 8,000 hatchery spring chinook bound for the Clearwater basin are expected to return to Idaho, which will produce an estimated harvest share of about 1,200 to 1,600 fish.
On the lower Salmon and Little Salmon Rivers, an estimated range of about 3,250 to 4,000 spring chinook are expected to return to Rapid River Hatchery. That will produce a harvest share estimate of 631 to 991. The fishery in the upper end of Hells Canyon is expected to have a harvest share between about 170 and 236.
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