The US v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee,
which provides fishery managers with in-season forecasts, is forecasting a 2018
fall chinook run into the Columbia River that is 23 percent less than the
actual number of fish that returned last year and about one-half of the 10-year
TAC is forecasting a fall chinook run in 2018
of 365,600 fish. That’s down from 2017’s actual run of 475,900 fish and far
lower than 2017’s forecast of 582,600 fish.
TAC completed the preseason forecast Feb. 15,
2018, in preparation for the North of Falcon season-setting process, TAC said
in a memorandum, saying that once that process is complete, the forecast could
change slightly. The final forecast will be available in mid-April.
The preseason estimate was made by a sub-group
of TAC members along with others from the Washington Department of Fish and
“The forecasts are down a bit and we think
this is primarily due to poor ocean conditions,” said Stuart Ellis, TAC lead
and harvest management biologist with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish
“They (the forecast numbers) get used first in
planning ocean fisheries,” he said, explaining why the forecast will likely see
a slight change later. “These get plugged into the ocean models and when the
ocean fisheries are set, the ocean models predict slightly different ocean
escapements (river mouth run sizes). This depends on the magnitude of the ocean
fisheries. Last year fisheries were constrained and so the models actually
predicted a few thousand additional fish back to the river mouth.”
TAC will then use these “adjusted” river mouth
run sizes as the pre-season forecasts for in-river fishery planning, he said.
“We will begin to update the upriver fall chinook runs around September 10-15.”
Fishery managers have scheduled a series of
public meetings through early April before finalizing seasons later that month,
a WDFW news release says.
Kyle Adicks, salmon policy lead for the
agency, said numerous salmon runs are expected to be lower this year compared
to last season, including several key chinook and coho stocks. As a result, a
number of fishing opportunities from Puget Sound south to the Columbia River
will likely be restricted.
"We will definitely have to be creative
in developing salmon fisheries this year," Adicks said. "I encourage
people to get involved and provide input on what they see as the priorities for
this season's fisheries."
The forecasts are based on varying
environmental indicators, such as ocean conditions, as well as surveys of
spawning salmon, and the number of juvenile salmon migrating to marine waters.
According to the TAC-WDFW memorandum, fall
chinook are made up of seven management components and this is the first year
it has predicted separate numbers for the Lower River Bright (LRB) stock, which
in the past has been included in the Bonneville Upriver Bright (BUB) stock.
Some 62,400 Lower River Hatchery fall chinook
(LRH) are forecasted to enter the river this year. That compares to last year’s
preseason forecast of 92,400 and an actual run of 64,600. The 2018 forecast is
70 percent of the 10-year average.
The number of Lower River Wild (LRW) fall
chinook is 7,600 this year, while the 2017 forecast was 12,500 and the actual
run was 7,800. The 2018 forecast is about one-half of the 10-year forecast.
The Lower River Bright stock (LRB) prediction
is 3,700 and the actual last year was 4,200. This is the first year TAC has
The Bonneville Pool Hatchery (BPH) forecast is
for 50,100, far below last year’s forecast of 158,400. However, the actual run
last year was even lower at 48,200. The 2018forecast is slightly more than
one-half the 10-year average.
Upriver Brights (URB) comprise the largest
single component of the fall chinook run with a forecast of 200,100 fish. The
2017 forecast was 260,000 and the actual run was 297,100. The forecast is
slightly less than one-half of the 10-year average.
A subset of URBs is the Snake River Wild
(SRW), which is not forecasted this year. Last year’s predicted run was 12,400
and the actual run was 7,000 fish.
The forecast for Pool Upriver Brights (PUB) is
36,400 fish. Last year’s forecast was 42,100 and the actual run was 46,000
fish. The forecast is slightly less than one-half of the 10-year average.
Bonneville Upriver Brights (BUB), a subset of
PUBs is not forecasted this year. The forecast last year was for 3,500 fish,
all 5-year old fall chinook. The actual run was just 1,400.
Some 5,300 Select Area Brights (SAB) are
forecasted to enter the river. The 2017 forecast was for a return of 13,700 and
the actual return was 6,600. The forecast is slightly less than one-half of the
With the forecasted run size for URBs of
slightly more than 200,000 fish, allowed harvest would be 33.25 percent of the
fish, with 25 percent going to treaty fisheries and 8.25 percent going to
non-treaty harvest (recreational and commercial). That assumes a Snake River
natural run size of 5,000 fish. If more of the Snake River fish arrive, harvest
could be higher. If 6,000 Snake River fish are expected, then allowed harvest
rises to 38 percent, with treaty harvest at 27 percent and non-treaty at 11
percent. If 8,000 Snake River fish are expected, then harvest would be 45
percent with 30 percent for treaty and 15 percent for non-treaty.
The anticipated number of coho entering the
Columbia River is also lower than in past years. An estimated 286,200 coho are
projected to return to the Columbia River this year, down nearly 100,000 fish
from the 2017 forecast. About 279,300 actually returned last year to the river,
where some coho stocks are listed for protection under the federal Endangered
A meeting schedule, salmon forecasts, and
information about the salmon season-setting process are available on WDFW's
website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. An online commenting tool will be available on the website later
Upcoming meetings and opportunities for
--Ocean options: State, tribal and federal
fishery managers will meet March 9-14 in Rohnert Park, Calif., with the Pacific
Fishery Management Council to develop options for this year's commercial and
recreational ocean chinook and coho salmon fisheries. The PFMC establishes
fishing seasons in ocean waters 3 to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
--Regional discussions: Additional public
meetings have been scheduled into April to discuss regional fishery issues.
Input from these regional discussions will be considered as the season-setting
process moves into the "North of Falcon" and PFMC meetings, which
will determine the final 2018 salmon seasons.
--Final PFMC: The PFMC is expected to adopt
final ocean fishing seasons and harvest levels at its April 6-11 meeting in
Portland, Ore. The 2018 salmon fisheries package for Washington's inside waters
is scheduled to be completed by the state and tribal co-managers during the
PFMC's April meeting.
--CBB, February 23, 2018, “States Set Columbia
River Spring Chinook Fishing, Hear Concerns About Upriver Allocations,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440263.aspx
--CBB, July 28, 2017, “Fall Fishing Opens To
Lower Than Usual Chinook Returns; Season Includes Rolling Steelhead Closure,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/439345.aspx