Lower Columbia spring Chinook anglers kept an estimated 5,120 of the hatchery salmon before the fishery closed on Wednesday, including 4,102 of the constraining upriver-bound stocks.
That’s slightly more than were initially available prior to the runsize update and means a reopener in the near-term is unlikely, but the good news is that the run is coming in well above recent years too, according to state managers.
A fact sheet from WDFW out this afternoon reports anglers made 42,600 trips through April 6 and they enjoyed “favorable” flows that ran relatively low and clear for the big river.
The kept catch of just over 4,100 above-Bonneville springers was 105 percent of the 3,913 available before the run update.
“Given there is no balance remaining on the upriver spring Chinook pre-run-update guideline, additional harvest opportunity is not anticipated until after an upriver run size update is provided by the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which typically occurs by mid-May,” the fact sheet states.
WDFW reports 1,007 fish counted so far at Bonneville through yesterday, compared to a 10-year average of 730 fish and a recent three-year average of just 189.
Weekly test fishing has also shown rising abundance, with tangle-net catch rates averaging .7, .6, 1.1 and 2.4 kings per drift.
For the moment, spring Chinook fishing will move to tributaries like the Willamette, Cowlitz and other Lower Columbia feeders.
This year’s forecast calls for 197,000 total springers to the mouth of the Columbia, with 122,900 of those headed for the upper watershed and 74,100 to rivers below Bonneville, including 51,200 to the Willamette.
The Lower Columbia fishery for the ESA-listed upriver stock is managed with a 30 percent runsize buffer in case the return comes in much lower than forecast.