So states the second joint ODFW-WDFW update to the 2023 Columbia fall salmon fishery, out late this afternoon. It’s a far cry from this exact same time last year when tule Chinook catches topping preseason expectations had managers suddenly scrambling to shut down all fishing below Bonneville.
(After all was said and done with the run, the exploitation rate for the stock actually came in well below the maximum.)
Unless things somehow change markedly in the next few days, it means Buoy 10 and the big river up to the Lewis/Warrior Rock should stay open for kings as planned through Labor Day Weekend.
Here are more notable outtakes from today’s update, with some bonus factoids from another fact sheet thrown in:
As of August 29th, the recent five-day average outflow at Bonneville Dam is 124 kcfs compared to a five-year average of 136 kcfs. The current five-day average water temperature at Bonneville Dam is 71°F compared to a five-year average temperature of 70°F. The five-day average visibility at Bonneville Dam is 6.8 feet compared to the five-year average of 6.9 feet.
River temperatures in the lower Columbia measured near Tongue Point have averaged 69°F over the past three days.
Through August 29, a total of 111,458 adult-sized fall Chinook have passed Bonneville Dam. The recent 10-year average 50% passage date is September 9.
This is the third highest cumulative count to date for adult Chinook in the last 10 years. The clip rate is approximately 56.6%, which is higher than average. Adult Chinook passage is typically 16.3% complete on August 29.
Based on visual stock sampling, a total of 81,148 adult bright stock fish (URB and PUB stocks) have passed Bonneville Dam. A total of 26,875 adult tules and 3,436 adult-sized tule jacks (primarily BPH stock) have also passed Bonneville Dam. Bright stock passage is 16% complete and tule passage is 20% complete on August 29, based on recent 10-year average run timing.
Upriver Summer Steelhead
Passage of upriver summer steelhead at Bonneville Dam since July 1 totals 69,938 A/B-Index fish. The recent 10-year average 50% passage date is August 18.
TAC updated the A-Index steelhead run size expectation at Bonneville Dam to 91,300 including 34,000 unclipped A-Index fish. This compares to a pre-season forecast of 55,400 total A-Index and 19,700 unclipped A-Index steelhead. It is too early to assess the size of the B-Index run size
Coho counts at Bonneville Dam through August 29 total 7,310 adult early stock Coho (defined as Coho passing prior to October 1). Passage of upriver early stock Coho is typically only 8% complete by August 29.
This is the second highest adult count to date in the last 10 years. The coho run at Bonneville is typically only 5.5% complete by this date. The adult coho clip rate is 56.7% which is high for this time of year.
Mainstem Fall Commercial Fisheries
Early-fall Zone 4-5 commercial fisheries began on August 9 with a Monday and Wednesday nightly schedule through August 24. This fishery continued this week with periods on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights.
Preliminary catch estimates through August 24 include 6,817 Chinook and 58 Coho. Additionally, 119 steelhead have been handled. The preliminary LCR Chinook ER and SRW HR through August 17 is tracking within preseason expectations.
Preliminary catch estimates for the fishing period on August 27 include about 7,200 Chinook and 120 Coho. Stock composition of Chinook landed during this fishing period is not yet available.
Late-fall Chinook-directed commercial periods in Zones 4-5 are expected to begin the week of September 17, dependent on in-season factors, with a pre-season expectation of about three nightly periods. Periods would likely be 10-hours (8 PM–6 AM); gear regulations would include an 8-inch minimum mesh restriction.
Buoy 10 and Mainstem Fall Recreational Salmon Fisheries
The Buoy 10 to west Puget Island (WPI) fishery is planned to be open August 1 through September 4, except closed August 21-23 and August 28-29, to both adult Chinook and Coho retention under mark-selective regulations with a two fish, one Chinook daily bag limit. Beginning September 5, Chinook retention is closed, but the daily bag limit increases to three hatchery Coho.
Preliminary catch estimates through August 27 include 16,532 kept and 13,381 released Chinook, and 4,731 kept and 2,885 released Coho from approximately 61,000 angler trips. The preliminary estimates of LCR Chinook ER and SRW HR through August 27 are tracking within preseason expectations.
Fall recreational salmon fisheries from WPI upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge (Pasco, WA) also opened August 1 with a two fish, one Chinook daily adult bag limit. The preliminary estimates of LCR Chinook ER and SRW HR through August 27 are tracking within preseason expectations.
WPI to Warrior Rock (WR) fishery is planned to be open August 1 through September 4 to both adult Chinook and hatchery Coho retention. The fishery is closed September 5- 30, then re-opens to hatchery Coho October 1. Preliminary estimates of catch and effort through August 27 include 2,033 kept and 88 released Chinook, 27 kept and 23 released Coho, and 391 released steelhead from approximately 18,000 angler trips.
WR to Bonneville Dam (BO) fishery is planned to be open August 1 through September 14 to both adult Chinook and hatchery Coho retention. The fishery is closed September 15-30, then re-opens to hatchery Coho October 1. Preliminary estimates of catch and effort through August 27 include 927 kept and 47 released Chinook, 8 kept and 8 released Coho, and 157 released steelhead from approximately 9,200 angler trips.
BO upstream to Highway 395 Bridge (Pasco, WA) fishery, often referred to as Zone 6, is planned to be open August 1 through October 15 for adult Chinook and Coho retention (wild Coho caught downstream of the Hood River Bridge must be released). Beginning October 16, only Coho may be retained (wild Coho caught downstream of the Hood River Bridge must be released). Preliminary estimates of catch and effort through August 27 include 613 Chinook kept and 70 released Chinook, zero kept and 13 released Coho, and 223 released steelhead from approximately 4,700 angler trips.
Non-treaty ESA Impacts
Non-treaty fisheries will be managed to remain within the ESA impacts allocated for all listed species. A summary of impacts to ESA-listed fall Chinook in completed, on-going, and planned 2023 non-treaty fisheries is provided below:
ESA impacts to LCR tule fall Chinook, including ocean fisheries, are expected to remain within the 38% exploitation rate (ER) limit. LCR tule fall Chinook are the most constraining fall Chinook stock in 2023 and the in-river rate is limited to 9.41% ER.
The expected URB harvest rate (ER) is projected to be 12.25% out of the 15% allowed. The SRW HR is projected remain within the 15% allowed.
Cumulative impacts for A- and B-Index steelhead in non-treaty fall-season fisheries are expected to be 0.37% and 0.66% out of the allowed 2.0% HR, respectively.
Impacts to LCN Coho, including ocean fisheries, are expected to remain within the 23% ER limit with pre-season expectations of 19.00% ER. The in-river rate is expected to be 4.60% ER.
The intent of staff is to have the fisheries proceed as currently scheduled. Staff will review catch estimates and Chinook stock composition as Chinook retention periods conclude and will determine if additional opportunities may exist within management guidelines.