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With Good Run Forecasts Harvest Managers Set Openings For Fall Salmon Fisheries
Posted on Friday, August 14, 2015 (PST)

Greater than average forecasts of fall chinook and coho salmon are opening the way for more commercial fishing in the Columbia River.

 

The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee pre-season forecast for the 2015 fall chinook adult return to the Columbia River totals 925,300 fish which would be another strong run.

 

The forecast is 80 percent of the 2014 actual return (1,159,100) and 147 percent of the 2005-2014 average return (631,200).

 

Bonneville Dam passage is expected to total nearly 649,000 upriver fall chinook adults. Passage is typically 50 percent complete by September 8.

 

The 2015 coho forecast to the Columbia River is for a strong return of 539,600 adults, which

includes 377,300 early stock and 162,300 late stock. The forecast is 117 percent of the 2005-2014

average of 459,800 fish.

 

Bonneville Dam passage is expected to total 190,500 adult coho, which represents 65 percent of

the total ocean abundance of Columbia River coho destined for areas upstream of Bonneville

Dam.

 

Upriver summer steelhead pass Bonneville Dam from April through October of each year.

 

Fish passing during July through October are categorized as Group A or Group B based on fork length (Group A <78 cm, Group B =78 cm). Passage during July is mainly Group A fish; Group B passage primarily begins around the end of August. Group B steelhead primarily return to Snake River tributaries in Idaho, while Group A steelhead return to tributaries throughout the Columbia and Snake basins.

 

The forecast for the combined Group A/B steelhead return to Bonneville Dam totals 298,800 fish, including 107,100 wild fish (36 percent). The Group A forecast is 105 percent and the Group B forecast is 80 percent of their respective 10-year averages.

 

Counts of steelhead at Bonneville Dam during July 1-27 total nearly 40,000 fish, which is much less than expected (73,000). Passage at Bonneville Dam (July-October) is typically 50 percent complete by August 11.

 

Through August 11, 11,805 adult fall chinook, 510,244 sockeye, and 37 coho had passed Bonneville Dam. The cumulative fall chinook count is the second largest since 1989 by that date.

 

Flows are low and temperatures are slightly above average at Bonneville Dam. Flow Tuesday this week was 138,600 cubic feet per second while the 10-year average is 169.7 kcfs. The average water temperature for Tuesday is 70.6 degrees Fahrenheit and the actual temperature was 71 degrees.

 

In three meetings over the past two weeks, the two-state Columbia River Compact set fishing periods for both treaty Indian and non-Indian commercial gillnetters, select area fisheries, research seine fisheries and recreational fisheries.

 

At its July 29 hearing, the Compact set openings for the non-Indian early fall salmon commercial gillnet fishery, with three 9-hour periods per week (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) through August in Zones 4 and 5. Commercial fishing is allowed August 9, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25 and 27, beginning at 9 pm each day and ending the following morning at 6 am.

 

The late fall gillnet fishery is expected to begin September 14, also in Zones 4 and 5. Coho gillnet fishing is expected in October, likely in Zones 1, 2 and 3.

 

The Compact also set the select area gillnet fisheries (those commercial fisheries not in the main Columbia River channel) at its July 29 hearing. Gillnetters can fish the Deep River select area fishery in Washington for 36 nights beginning August 17, and for 46 nights, also beginning August 17, in Oregon’s Blind Slough and Young’s Bay.

 

The Compact also set the recreational fall salmon fisheries. The Buoy 10 fishery began August 1 and fishing will be allowed through Labor Day, September 7. Two fish are allowed, but only one can be a chinook. Retention of chinook closes Sept. 8 – 30 and will reopen October 1 with a two-fish, two chinook bag limit.

 

At its Tuesday hearing this week, the Compact set limits and timing on the 2015 beach and purse seine fishing in the Columbia River.

 

Last year, the first pilot research seine fishery was on selected days August 19 to September 30, 2014. It was limited to 10 seine permits, four purse seines (fished from boats) and six beach seines. Some 45 commercial gillnetters signed up for the permits. Each permit was given an individual fish quota (IFQ) limited to hatchery chinook and coho salmon. A total of 6,000 chinook and 3,300 coho were allowed, although the actual catch was 2,400 chinook and 1,000 coho.

 

The chinook quota this year will be 5,000 fish and 1,700 coho are allowed, all hatchery fish. Again, ten permits are allowed, but this year the number of permits requested as of Tuesday has been just eight, but just six permits have been purchased (four beach and two seine permits). Oregon and Washington are accepting applications to fill the last four permits.

 

Each beach seine will be allowed 400 hatchery chinook salmon and 150 coho salmon. Handling of 180 steelhead is allowed. Purse seiners are allowed 650 chinook, 200 coho and are allowed to handle up to 150 steelhead. Once a seiner reaches these limits, they must stop fishing.

 

According to the Compact’s Joint Staff  Report – Fall Fact Sheet No. 2, the objectives of this fishery are to “determine steelhead-to-Chinook handle ratios by gear and zone, collect salmon catch rates by gear type, compare immediate release mortalities observed to those observed in prior research, and collect information to estimate the stock composition of fall Chinook.”

 

Seining begins for 13 to 14 hour periods, two to four periods a week from August 24 through September 30.

 

During the 2014 seine season, gillnetters averaged $1.49 per pound for chinook and $1.15 for coho.

 

Wednesday this week, the Compact approved fall treaty commercial fishing in Zone 6. During that fishery, which begins August 17 and ends September 12, Treaty gillnetters are expected to take a total of 171,900 chinook salmon, which includes 93,700 upriver brights, and 13,800 steelhead, which includes 2,280 B Index steelhead. The expected number of nets range from 290 to 690.

 

The four Columbia River treaty tribes agreed to the following seasons:

6 am Monday to 6 pm Friday, August 17 to August 21 (4.5 days)

6 am Monday to 6 pm Friday, August 24 to August 28 (4.5 days)

6 am Monday to 6 pm Friday, August 31 to September 5 (5.5 days)

6 am Monday to 6 pm Friday, September 8 to September 12 (4.5 days)

 

All species of salmon, steelhead, shad, yellow perch, bass, walleye, catfish and carp may be sold or retained for subsistence. Sturgeon may not be sold, but fish 43 to 54 inches from The Dalles and John Day pools may be kept for subsistence. Sturgeon from the Bonneville Pool can be kept for subsistence, but must be 38 to 54 inches.

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The Columbia Basin Bulletin, Bend, Oregon. For information or comments call 541-312-8860.
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