Columbia River salmon managers reopened hatchery summer Chinook season on most of the Lower Columbia and added sockeye to the two-adult-salmonid bag limit there and through the gorge pools.
Chinook fishing will run July 1-13 from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville, while sockeye can be retained from that bridge to the Highway 395 crossing in Tri-Cities July 1-31.
ODFW and WDFW managers made the call during a virtual Columbia River Compact meeting this morning. It follows runsize upgrades earlier this week for both stocks, including a doubling of sockeye expectations to 426,000 and 10,500 more summer kings than initially predicted.
Summer Chinook were previously open June 16-22 below the dam, while sockeye retention was closed there and up to Tri-Cities, both based on the preseason forecasts (56,300 and 198,000) and fishery sharing.
Staff had proposed a July 1-10 summer king reopener, but there was support in the fishing community for extending that to July 13 and the agencies’ Tucker Jones and Bill Tweit, respectively, both agreed to it. Catch in the three added days is estimated to amount to an additional 210 Chinook.
There was also good news for Lake Wenatchee sockeye anglers.
Tweit noted that the updated forecast back to the Columbia indicated that conservation concerns at the Chelan County water had been significantly eased, “barring something unusual.” WDFW’s escapement goal is 23,000. The preseason forecast had been for less than that, 19,200. Eyes will now turn toward the Tumwater Dam count to track the run for a potential fishery on Lake Wenatchee.
Today’s meeting – held over Microsoft Teams and telephone – was also interrupted for about 10 minutes due to some callers not using their mute button, as repeatedly instructed. As a member of the public was providing comment on the recreational fishing proposals and a treaty commercial fishery, Jones grew frustrated with background noise and decided to mute everyone. After awhile a new meeting link was sent out.
But before things got going again, Tweit took a moment to address what has become a chronic problem during CRC calls.
“This only works, this kind of virtual meeting only works if people are responsible with their mute button,” he said.
During today’s and other calls, outside conversations, dog barks and other random noises can sometimes be heard as callers forget to mute themselves or don’t heed instructions to do so.
Tweit said the interruptions were “disruptive to the public process … decision making … and participants following along.”
“Please use your mute button,” he urged callers. “Please be responsible.”
The fact sheet for the meeting also shed some more light on Army Corps of Engineers’ fish count issues at Bonneville. Data for this Monday has yet to be posted, leaving a mystery about how many sockeye swam through the dam on what is becoming a record-challenging run. The past two days have seen more than 50,000 fish apiece, both well above the old high mark of 41,573 from June 26, 2012.
Per DFW staffers, “USACE is concerned there may have been some erroneous counts in recent days and is currently reviewing data to ensure counts are correct. At this time COE does not expect significant corrections to sockeye or chinook counts.”
Sunday’s steelhead count was an anomalously high 1,595.
Yesterday, Corps senior fisheries biologist Chris Perry told this magazine, “One of the fish counters became ill and was not able to complete their shift. We record everything on a DVR so the counts will be determined by viewing the video and posted to the correct sites, but it will take a bit since all healthy counters are filling shifts … It will likely still be a few days. 200,000 shad a day makes getting counts from video a challenge.”