Southwest Washington Spring Chinook Forecasts Out

Spring Chinook forecasts for Washington’s Lower Columbia and Gorge tribs are out and they don’t look too hot.

WDFW is forecasting just 3,700 of the year’s first salmon back to the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis, and 8,400 to the Wind, Drano and Klickitat.

DRANO LAKE WILL SEE THE HIGHEST SPRING CHINOOK RETURN OF THE SIX SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON COLUMBIA TRIBUTARIES, BUT STILL LESS THAN HALF THE 10-YEAR AVERAGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Individually the runs are all below to well below the 10-year average, with the Cowlitz expecting the fewest returning all the way back to 1980.

Managers blame the Pacific, where the fish feed for a couple years before returning to their home rivers.

“Ocean conditions between 2015 and 2018 were among the worst observed during the last 20 years and have likely had a strong influence on the spring Chinook cohorts that will return to these tributaries in 2020,” WDFW states.

It represents a grim beginning to the slow annual unveiling of the next year’s salmon forecasts.

After Columbia springer numbers are released comes a preliminary outlook for the big river’s fall king and coho runs, followed by harder numbers for bright and tule Chinook stock segments, and then Oregon Coast coho and Washington king, silver, sockeye and chum forecasts later in winter.

Springer fishing was closed on the Cowlitz and Lewis this past season, as was the Columbia below Warrior Rock, with the Kalama’s limit also dropped to one due to low forecasts.

Drano and Wind had to be closed late in the fishery to help hatchery systems elsewhere in the Columbia Basin meet broodstock goals.

3 thoughts on “Southwest Washington Spring Chinook Forecasts Out”

  1. Wow, record runs in Alaska. I guess they migrate in a different ocean. But they don’t. Sport fishermen are getting what they deserve. And I am a sports fisherman. Instead of making sure the state was managing the fishery, many of you focused your energy on your brother commercial fishermen. Getting gillnetters off the river will not change the fact that the state has totally mis-managed the salmon fishery. The state is doing a great job of keeping you focused on fighting other user groups instead of the fish. The thing that has a chance to save the salmon, is for the state to go back to following the way mother nature raised fish. A stream by stream effort is the only way to produce more fish. Until that happens enjoy.

  2. The reason always seems to be the ocean conditions. When will we get honest and understand the ocean conditions today are the new “norm” or closer to normal now than the good conditions of the past. We used to have a year or two of bad ocean conditions and for the most part good conditions. Now that is reversed and may be a long term deal. We also need to say its also avian predation, pinniped predation, shoreside environmental conditions such as water temps, spring freshets, etc. and then adjust the models to account for the new “norm”. If we did it would get real scary real quick. Then we should decide how that impacts hatchery production and allowable releases. If we don’t our runs are going to deteriorate to non existent.

    1. I’m thinking the “ocean conditions” is mostly a smokescreen. They never seem to mention the smolts that get eaten by predatory fish and birds all along the rivers especially at the mouths of tributaries where the young smolts rest up during their long journeys. In addition they seem to avoid the “sea lion” issue so they don’t offend the “seal huggers”. I’m sure there are other reasons that add to the problem but they don’t even acknowledge or act on the things they can.

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