Spring Chinook Season Opens
by Brent Stecker
With a return projected to be the largest since 1938, the fishing season for this year's spring chinook is already underway on parts of the lower Columbia River.
Buoyed by a forecast of 559,900 returning fish, both Washington and Oregon approved regulations that will provide Columbia River anglers with plenty of fishing opportunities above and below Bonneville Dam in the early spring months.
A total of 222,000 spring chinook returned to the river last year, but runs have fallen short of expectations in the last two years. As a result, fishery managers were careful when they set the fishing seasons below the dam. They set aside a 40-percent buffer until the forecast can be verified by data collected once the run is under way when calculating the number of fish available for harvest.
"This approach gives us the flexibility to match fishing opportunities to the actual size of the run," said Guy Norman, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's southwest regional director, in a statement. "As we've seen in the past two years, it can create real problems when runs fall short of expectations."
The buffer is designed to ensure that enough spring chinook pass upstream to meet obligations to tribal and non-tribal fisheries upriver from Bonneville Dam, Norman said.
The state Fish and Wildlife preseason salmon forecast meeting was held on Tuesday in Olympia. Here are some of the numbers that came out of that:
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