Fishing Prospects for 2011
by Mark Yuasa
Looking into the salmon fishing crystal ball, it appears anglers could find some delightful times off the coast and in the Columbia River next spring, summer and fall.
"We should see fairly similar returns (next year) as we did in 2010, which generated a decent season off our coast and a really good fishery for bright fall chinook stocks in the Lower Columbia," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "The popular (late-summer) Buoy-10 fishery (at the Columbia mouth) for chinook was just so-so."
"Across the board, we're seeing a downgrade in younger age spring and fall fish that went out into the ocean in 2009, but we're seeing a couple of stronger (larger-sized 5-year-old) stocks that should make up for it," Hymer said.
According to state Fish and Wildlife, the total adult fall chinook return to the Columbia River in 2010 was forecast to be 664,800. The overall run in 2011 is expected to be better than average, which should lead to improved adult fish returns next summer and fall.
The 2011 Upper Columbia River summer chinook forecast is 91,100, which is a record (88,800 was the forecast with an actual return of 72,346 this past summer).
The Lower Columbia River hatchery chinook, mid-Columbia bright chinook and Bonneville Pool hatchery chinook stocks in 2011 should be similar to 2010, which was an improvement over the past three to five years.
The Lower Columbia River wild chinook stock in 2011 should see an improvement. The Columbia River upriver bright chinook stock in 2011 should be above average.
It is still unclear what to expect for Columbia River summer coho next year, but the return of 390,000 adult coho this summer was greater than the forecast of 286,600. This summer, don't expect one of those 1 million fish returns, but an acceptable figure that should offer some fair fishing.
The Columbia River sockeye forecast is 161,900 (2,100 back to the Snake, 159,800 to the Upper Columbia). The forecast this past summer was 125,800, and the actual return was 387,858.
The Columbia River upriver spring chinook forecast of 198,400 is the sixth-largest return since 1979, and considered an above-average run. It is well under last year's forecast of 470,000 (315,000 was actual return). The largest return was 437,900 in 2001, and the 10-year average is 219,000.
The Upper Columbia adult spring chinook forecast is 22,400 (2,000 are wild fish). The forecast last spring was 57,300 (5,700), and the actual return was 38,083 (3,147).
The Snake River spring/summer adult chinook forecast is 91,100 (24,700 are wild fish). The forecast last spring/summer was 272,000 (73,400) and the actual return was 169,884 (35,613).
In Oregon, the 2011 Willamette River forecast of 104,000 was announced last Monday, which is better than the 2010 forecast of 63,000 (110,000 was the actual return).
The majority of the Willamette spring chinook return are expected to be larger 5-year-old fish, and these as well as the upriver spring fish are the drivers of the lower river sport fishery in March and April.
The 2011 adult spring chinook returns for the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis rivers won't be very good. The Cowlitz forecast is 6,600 (12,500 was 2010 forecast, and actual return was 8,900); Kalama, 600 (900 and 700); and Lewis, 3,400 (6,000 and 2,800).
The forecasts for spring chinook in tributaries above Bonneville Dam like Wind River, White Salmon River and Drano Lake are expected to be out in late January.
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