That figure is about 129,000 fewer than were forecast to return this year, and includes 121,000 of the critical upriver-bound fish and 66,400 headed back to tribs below Bonneville Dam.
Online anglers are already applying the 30 percent runsize buffer to the upriver forecast and factoring in the low percentage of ESA-listed wild Snake River fish and nontribal allocations to get a sense of how many springers might be available to harvest next season above and below the dam, but ODFW and WDFW won’t actually set fisheries until later this winter.
In the Lower Columbia, the Willamette as usual is expected to be the most productive, contributing 48,700 to the forecast, and fishermen will hope that the run performs better than 2023’s, which came in half as large as expected.
As for the Washington-side tribs, here’s what WDFW says about them:
The 2024 Cowlitz River spring Chinook forecast to the tributary mouth is greater than the recent 5-year average return of 3,800 and less than the 10-year average return of 9,700.
The 2024 Kalama River spring Chinook forecast to the tributary mouth is similar to the recent 5-year average return of 1,800 and less than the 10-year average return of 2,300.
The 2024 Lewis River spring Chinook forecast to the tributary mouth is similar to the recent 5-year average return of 3,200 and greater than the 10-year average return of 2,400.
The 2024 Wind River Spring Chinook forecast is greater than the recent 5-year average return of 3,500 and similar to the recent 10-year average return of 4,100.
The 2024 Little White Salmon (LWS) River Spring Chinook forecast is less than the recent 5-year and 10-year average returns of 6,300 and 8,100, respectively.
The 2024 Klickitat River Spring Chinook forecast is similar to the recent 5-year average return of 1,300 and less than the recent 10-year average return of 1,800.
Even as the Drano tally is on the lower side, it saw a smoking-hot bite this past season with only a couple thousand more Little White and Wind springers entering the lake.
If there’s a bright spot, it’s that the sockeye forecast is a pretty robust 401,700, including a strong 97,000 Lake Wenatchee fish as well as 288,700 to the Okanogan/nagan.
The sockeye forsoothery is also notable for the 12,100 expected Yakima River fish, which appears to be a potential high mark for the tribally regenerated run back to Washington’s east-central Cascades watershed.
The caveat with Columbia sockeye is that managers are still dialing in their forecasting skills, but it won’t hurt to cross your fingers and start stocking up on Spin-N-Glos and coon shrimp.
The Upper Columbia summer Chinook forecast is for 53,000, just slightly below how many actually headed back to Chelan and Brewster, though well below the preseason forecast of 85,400.