Officials have updated the upriver Columbia spring Chinook forecast to a “minimum” of 139,000 of the salmon and while a downgrade of 2023 expectations, they will huddle tomorrow afternoon to discuss mainstem recreational fisheries.
This week’s inseason update from the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee essentially matches the 30 percent preseason run forecast buffer, which February, March and early April fishing was based on and yielded 1,715 of the 6,487 adult above-Bonneville-bound fish available to harvest.
Fishing on the Lower Columbia was closed after April 11, which itself was four days later than originally scheduled due to slow catches. At one point earlier this month, Idaho wasn’t even sure it would be able to provide a season in its waters, but it now appears that this year’s run is coming in very late, though smaller than the preseason forecast, which was for 198,000 upriver springers at the mouth of the big river.
Fish counts have picked up since Columbia flows at Bonneville Dam stabilized after jumping to 350,000 cubic feet per second and now sit at 77,410 adult springers through Monday, May 15, bringing the tally to about 7,000 fish below the 10-year average for the date and likely to overhaul the median within two to three days.
State managers will likely be somewhat nervous about how fast the remaining catch balance could be eaten into during any recreational fishery. They will hash that and other questions out during the 1 p.m. Columbia River Compact teleconference tomorrow.