5 Days, A Quarter Million Kings

Yesterday helped push the five-day count at Bonneville to over 250,000 adult Chinook — a quarter million kings — better than 54 entire fall runs in the 75 years of counting back to 1938, and almost as many as were forecast to return to all of Puget Sound this year.

Though it now appears that king passage has peaked, a total of 42,506 adults were counted in the ladders of the Columbia River dam on Sept. 11th.

Since Saturday, when the outlandish spike began, counters have tallied the first (63,870: Sept. 9), second (56,044: Sept. 10), third (48,710: Sept. 7), sixth (42,506: Sept. 11) and seventh (42,445: Sept. 8) best days ever.

It’s a string that is mind-boggling, historic — Chin-pocalypse in the words of one angler who stands to reap the benefits, king-ageddon. Even though we’ve got very pressing deadlines for four magazines — Jeff, Terry, Bryce, your copy, please — all I want to do is write about this moment of salmon insanity.

It’s not just the Columbia. There are signs that Puget Sound pink salmon were hugely underforecast, and the Oregon and California Coasts’ Chinook season was bonkers.

But alas, I’m tardy getting my own copy in for the October issue, so I’ll have to wrap it up with just a few more nugs.

As it stands, the dam count sits at 573,567 for the year, third only to 2003′s 610,075 and 2004′s 583,332. Hmm, can someone say Pacific Decadal Oscillation?

Managers now estimate that as many as 835,000 above-Bonneville-bound kings will enter the river this year.

Also of note: the jack count, a possible indicator of next year’s run, is just under 56,000, is twice as big as the 10-year average — and 7,000 fish more than last year at this same point in the run. However, last September saw a big spike at midmonth.

For more on how and where to intercept many of these fish, which are headed to the Hanford Reach, grab a copy of the September issue, on newsstands and available digitally.

And check out our Fall Subscribathon deal — $10 off our regular subscription price for 1-, 2- and 3-year deals. While the other guys go on and on about the anatomy of tackle or tips for fisheries and game species that have almost no relevance in Washington and Oregon, we outfit you for the hottest bites and best months right here, every month of the year.

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