Some good news for Columbia River steelhead: That rock-bottom A-run inseason update has been upgraded.
Returns in the second half of August were more robust than the first half of the month and all of July — 50 percent of the 10-year average versus 20 percent.
Managers now expect 97,100 A-runs, those one-salts that return to Inland Northwest streams, up from 54,000 but still below the 112,100 preseason forecast, which itself is the lowest in 40 years.
Seven out of 10 of those steelhead will be fin-clipped, the rest wild.
They’ve had to hold off, however, on updating the B-run, saying it’s “too early” to do so “reliably.”
The forecast of just 1,100 natural-origin Bs, which return to Idaho’s Clearwater and Salmon Rivers, has led to fishery restrictions in the Lower Columbia and its Gorge tributaries, and will continue upriver as the season progresses.
Compounding fish counting is the eruption of the Eagle Creek Fire on Saturday, Sept. 2.
With only “mission-essential personnel” at Bonneville yesterday, no tallies were performed and none are expected today either, according to a fact sheet.
Sept. 4 figures haven’t been posted either.
Somewhat troubling is that up to that date fall bright and tule Chinook and coho had been tracking behind expectations if the runs are timed normally, which they may or may not be. A king update is expected Sept. 11.
This year’s returning salmon and steelhead have seen poor river and ocean conditions.