The good signs continue with this year’s upriver-bound spring Chinook run on the Columbia as the forecast was raised today by roughly a third and ODFW and WDFW will huddle on Wednesday to “consider the mainstem recreational salmonid fishery downstream of Bonneville Dam.”
The Technical Advisory Committee now expects 161,800 adults, up from 122,900 before the run began.
It has state fishery managers “dialing all our numbers as we speak” with a joint WDFW-ODFW conference call now scheduled for Wednesday morning at 9 .a.m
The fishery on the Lower Columbia that ran through April 6 yielded a kept catch of 5,120 springers for 42,600 angler trips. The former figure includes 4,102 upriver Chinook mortalities, which was 105 percent of those available for the initial season before the mid-May runsize update. The allocation was made with a 30 percent buffer to guard against an unexpectedly low return of these ESA-listed fish.
Fishing in the gorge mainstem of the Columbia was shut down last week two days earlier than scheduled as the quota of 559 was expected to have surpassed the initial quota somewhat.
While dam counts have dipped a bit, last week saw a strong series of days, include 13,496 springers last Tuesday that helped power the tally through Sunday to 86,534 fish, nearly 20,000 better than the 10-year average for the date. Figures from the tangle net test fishery also ticked back up to 3.4 Chinook a drift on May 2 after dropping to 3.0 on April 25. This week is the last scheduled set of test fishing.
The bigger than expected run has Idaho manager/anglers excited too.
“This weekend I re-spooled all my salmon reels, set up five different rods, tied up a pile of hooks, and restocked my tackle box. You can bet I am watching the dam counts so that when they hit Idaho, I’m ready to go,” reported IDFG’s Joe DePont on his weekly blog tracking the run as it nears the Gem State’s Clearwater and Salmon Rivers.
Dam issues at Lower Monumental have, however, slowed the progress of the fish due to work on four spillgates, creating an eddy by the fish ladder that made “it difficult for returning adult salmon to find the entrance,” Eric Barker at the Lewiston Tribune reported. Two spillgates have since returned to service.
Correction, 5:13 p.m., May 11, 2022: The initial version of this blog stated that the early quota for the mainstem Columbia through the middle and east gorge pools was 599 upriver mortalities, but it was in fact 559.