commercial fall fishing began this week for both commercial non-treaty
gillnetters and treaty gillnetters on the Columbia River mainstem while Idaho,
due to historic low returns, suspended retention of steelhead in Idaho rivers
as of August 17.
commercial gillnetters, the limited opening is for five nine-hour fishing
periods, all upstream of Warrior Rock at St. Helens, Oregon. Due to poor
steelhead returns, this early fall commercial gillnetting fishery is the only
fishery this fall that lower Columbia River gillnetters can expect.
commercial treaty gillnetters, the opening is for three four and a half day
periods, Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, August 21 and continuing for
the next two weeks.
two-state Columbia River Compact met last week in Kelso, Washington, where it
made the decision for the commercial openings.
Compact did not rule on recreational fishing, which is already open under
two-state rules from Buoy 10 at the Columbia River mouth to the Highway 395
bridge at the Oregon and Washington border on the east side of both states.
fall chinook forecast has not changed since the U.S. v Oregon Technical
Advisory Committee’s pre-season forecast set earlier in the year.
2017 forecast for fall chinook in the Columbia River is 613,800 fish, about 96
percent of 2016’s actual return of 642,400 fish and 84 percent of the 2007-2016
average return of 727,600 fish, according to the August 16, 2017 Fall Fact
Sheet No. 2 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/17/17_08_16ff2.pdf
Dam passage is expected to total nearly 403,600 upriver fall chinook for the
season. Passage at the dam through August 22 was 13,751 adult chinook and 1,820
jacks. Last year on this date, some 44,229 adults and 5,396 jacks had passed.
The 10-year average is 27,985 adults and 4,868 jacks.
at the dam is typically 50 percent complete by September 9, the Fact Sheet
expected catch for non-treaty commercial gillnetters is 45,900 adult chinook,
350 coho and 525 white sturgeon, according to the Fact Sheet. The treaty
commercial impacts are estimated to be 54,300 fall chinook of which 23,900 are
expected to be upriver brights, and 1,700 steelhead of which 170 are expected
to be B-run steelhead.
summer steelhead are faring much poorer. TAC met August 7 and August 14 to
review the summer steelhead status, downgrading expectations for the A-run fish
from its pre-season forecast of 122,100 fish to 54,000 A-run summer steelhead
(33,000 hatchery fish and 21,000 wild fish). TAC did not review the B-run
forecast. That is a later run and is typically just 3 percent complete by this
time of summer.
summer steelhead pass Bonneville Dam from April through October. Fish passing
during July through October are categorized as A-Index or B-Index (also known
as A-run or B-run) based on fork length. A-Index are less than 78 cm (about 31
inches) and B-Index are typically more than 78 cm. Passage during July is
mainly A-Index fish; B-Index passage normally begins around the end of August.
B-Index steelhead primarily return to Snake River tributaries in Idaho, while
A-Index steelhead return to tributaries throughout the Columbia and Snake
basins, according to the Fact Sheet.
forecast for the combined A/B-Index steelhead return to Bonneville Dam is
119,400 fish, including 41,500 unclipped (34,100 wild) fish. The A-Index
forecast is 54 percent and the B-Index forecast is 25 percent of their respective
at Bonneville Dam is typically 50 percent complete by August 14, but passage
for fish passing July 1 through August 14 was just 32,870 fish and is the
lowest cumulative passage since 1943. Previous expectations were about 59,700
steelhead by this date.
low numbers of steelhead and especially the expected low numbers of the B-run
fish that travel into the Snake River has caused Idaho to suspend retention of
steelhead in Idaho rivers as of August 17, although catch and release is still
allowed, according to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game news release (https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/fish-and-game-closes-steelhead-harvest-protect-small-run-fish). Fall chinook
angling, which opened August 18, will continue to be open.
August 14, about 400 steelhead had crossed Lower Granite Dam some 30 miles
downstream from Lewiston. The 10-year average for that date is about 6,000
steelhead. Prior to the closure, anglers were still required to release all
wild steelhead. The closure will help ensure enough broodstock will return to
Idaho hatcheries, IDFG said.
August 15, about half of the fish should have already crossed Bonneville Dam,
but through August 14, only 3,900 Idaho steelhead had crossed the dam.
realize steelhead anglers will be disappointed, and many will choose not to
fish this fall as a result of the decision to close harvest,” said Lance
Hebdon, IDFG’s anadromous fish manager. “We will continue to monitor hatchery
and wild steelhead returns as the run continues to determine if changes are
added that catch and release isn’t completely impact free, “but it is very low
has closed all steelhead fishing (both harvest and catch and release) just once
in 43 years.
steelhead runs typically fluctuate from year to year, but what makes this year
unusual is an exceptionally small hatchery return at the same time as a small
wild run. The 1996 steelhead run, for example, had only 7,600 wild fish, but
they combined with 79,000 hatchery fish. Portions of this run migrated to the
Pacific in 2015, which was a low-water year with early hot weather that
produced hazardous river conditions for young fish leaving Idaho, IDFG said.
productivity was also poor that year, which persisted in 2016, and made
conditions even more difficult for fish.
2017 forecast for coho salmon to the Columbia River is 319,300 adults, 93
percent of the 5-year average of 344,500 fish. Total passage of the fish at
Bonneville Dam is expected to be 97,400. Some 229 coho had passed the dam as of
August 22, along with 43 coho jacks. Last year on the same date, passage was
411 adults and 135 jacks. The 10-year average is 1,633 adults and 234 jacks.
Compact’s August 16 Action Notice is at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/CAN/17/170816_notice.pdf
addition to retail locations, Columbia River Indian-caught salmon can be
purchased directly from tribal fishers at locations along the river. Common
sale locations include: Marine Park (Cascade Locks), North Bonneville (one mile
east of Bonneville Dam on the Washington shore), Koberg (east of Hood River),
and Celilo Village.
July 28, 2017, “Fall Fishing Opens To Lower Than Usual Chinook Returns; Season
Includes Rolling Steelhead Closure,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439345.aspx
July 21, 2017, “Summer Chinook, Sockeye Runs Downgraded; Treaty Commercial
Fishery Extended,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439313.aspx
July 14, 2017, “Harvest Managers Approve More Tribal Fishing, Concerns
Expressed Over Low Sockeye, Summer Steelhead,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439267.aspx
July 7, 2017, “Summer Chinook Fishing Resumes Below Bonneville, Wild Summer
Steelhead Passage To Date Very Low,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439220.aspx