Get ready for the mother of all fall Chinook runs, and some serious salmon insanity later this year in the Northwest.
This morning, fishery managers put out a prediction of 1.6 million kings back to the Columbia, including 973,000 upriver brights.
That’s on top of the 964,000 coho anticipated back to the big river, and another 230,000 to Oregon Coast streams.
(Now, let’s cross our fingers that these insane numerals aren’t the result of some new-counting-program test gone awry, like what happened with springers at Bonneville earlier this week.)
While last summer saw crazy-good Chinook fishing in the Columbia, a string of shad-count-like days at Bonneville and record Snake returns, this one-two punch of kings and silvers off our coast and up the river — if it comes in — should make for salmon fishing beyond belief.
“We have a very large run of Chinook and coho in the same year. Now we’re trying to figure out what that means for fishing,” says WDFW’s Ron Roler, who manages Columbia River fisheries.
He says he’s already tying rigs and pinching barbs in anticipation of August and September on the river, and he might just be going heavier on the leader too.
“They’re going to be 4s and 5s,” Roler says.
Last year’s huge return of smaller 3-year-olds indicates to managers that we’ll see older, larger salmon this year, fish that stayed in the ocean and had a full year more of growth for their journey upstream.
Two-thirds of the URBs are forecasted to be 4-year-olds, according to PSMFC supervising fisheries biologist Joe Hymer. He says 3s average 5 to 8 pounds, 4s 12 to 18 pounds and 5s go 20-plus.
“All we gotta have is water temperatures in our favor. I don’t know where we’re sitting on that, but the run size is in our favor. I’m excited about it,” Roler says.
And he hints that some of the stock estimates were on the conservative side, so who knows, maybe even more Chinook will come in.
“I’m ready for fall,” Roler says.
Here’s how the forsoothery breaks out:
Here are the notes:
LRH – Similar to the 5-year average (95,500) and 2013 actual return.
LRW – Largest return since 1989. More than double the 10-year average (13,600).
BPH – About 40% greater than the 10-year average (80,700).
URB – Nearly 1 million fish…..
BUB – About 35% greater than 10-year average (36,500).
PUB – Record high forecasted return. Highest actual return on record was 207,800 in 2013.
The total forecast of 1,602,900 Columbia River fall Chinook would be the largest return on record since 1938.
Yes, that smiley face is in the original document from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee Sub-group.
The year 1938 is when fish counting began at newly completed Bonneville Dam.