Spring Chinook Run Forecast May Doubleby Allen Thomas
The Register-Guard, December 10, 2013
Biologists predict nearly twice as many salmon will enter the Columbia this year
State, federal and tribal biologists predict an improved run of 227,000 spring chinook salmon will enter the Columbia River in 2014 headed for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam.
"It's a good number, better than last year, but not up to what we'd like to see for the future,'' said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The spring chinook forecast for the Snake and mid- and upper-Columbia rivers is the most anticipated number of the year among anglers. A good forecast fuels fishing optimism that sells tackle, bait and boats, and books trips with guides. Good spring chinook fishing segues into anglers staying on the water for summer chinook, summer steelhead and fall chinook.
"The forecast is almost twice what we had in 2013," said Randy Woolsey, a manufacturers representative. "With good river conditions, the run should present anglers with a terrific opportunity this spring.''
In 2013, the Columbia River Technical Advisory Committee forecast a return of 141,400. The actual return was 123,100.
"It's a pretty good number and I see the number of wild fish is up, too,'' said Larry Swanson of Vancouver, a member of the bi-state Columbia River Recreational Fishing Advisory Group. "It should be a pretty good season, but part will depend on how we share the catch above and below Bonneville Dam."
The other big number still to come is the spring chinook forecast for Oregon's Willamette River. In 2013, the forecast was 59,800 with an actual return of 47,300.
Forecasts for the Cowlitz, Lewis and Kalama rivers -- tributaries with spring chinook downstream of Bonneville Dam -- are expected soon.
The 2008-17 management agreement between the states and Columbia River treaty tribes, along with other allocation arrangements, will allow a non-Indian catch of 22,700 upper Columbia spring chinook, Roler said. Lower Columbia spring chinook will boost that harvest number, he added.
Directions from the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions split the non-Indian harvest at 70 percent for sportsmen and 30 percent for the commercials in 2014.
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