Passage of spring chinook salmon at Bonneville
Dam was at just 996 fish as of April 25. That is the lowest number of fish
passing the dam on that date since 1980, according to an Oregon/Washington
joint staff report released April 26.
However, the passage number rose quickly to 10,570
fish by May 3. That’s still nearly seven times lower than the 10-year average
of 72,274 on that date, but twice last year’s passage of 5,192 fish.
Day by day from April 25 when 181 fish passed
the dam, daily counts rose. April 26, some 283 fish passed, with 804 passing
April 27, 1,357 April 28, 1,812 April 29, 1,002 April 30, dropping to 633 May 1,
978 May 2 and a big daily jump to 2,705 May 3.
“Last year was late, but hopefully this year
is late too,” said NOAA’s Paul Wagner at this week’s interagency Technical
Management Team meeting.
The preseason forecasted run of upriver spring
chinook is 166,400 fish. On average half of the run passes the dam by May 8.
The US v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee is expected to update the run size
in the next couple of weeks. The first update had typically occurred between
April 29 (2015) and May 15 (2017).
“We met and discussed the run, but we all
thought it was still too early to try and update it,” said Columbia River Inter-Tribal
Fish Commission’s Stuart Ellis and TAC lead this year. “We will meet again at
least each Monday and review things. It’s possible we could meet at other times
also depending on the needs of the fishery managers.”
Over the past ten years, adult runs have
averaged around 204,600 (range 115,800 to 315,300), according to the Compact’s
Winter Fact Sheet #3 (http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/18/18_02_21wf3a.pdf).
The preseason forecasted run for upriver
spring chinook in 2017 was 160,400, but as has been noted, that run was late to
arrive and by June 15 when the spring chinook run becomes the summer run, the
upriver run had totaled just 115,821 fish.
With the 5 year average (2013 – 17) at 28,875
spring chinook on April 25 and the 10-year average of 29,538 fish, some 13
percent of the run typically passes the dam on this date, the joint staff
report says (“Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife Joint
Staff Report – Winter/Spring Fishery Update No. 1,” https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/18/18_04_26_update.pdf).
Just 48 spring chinook had reached Lower
Granite Dam on the lower Snake River as of May 3. The 10-year average is 4,866
on that date and last year the run was just 63.
Spring chinook fishing is currently allowed by
Idaho upstream of the dam in the Clearwater and Salmon rivers, and by Idaho and
Oregon on the mainstem Snake River. Biologists predict a run size of
spring/summer chinook of 53,000 hatchery chinook and 13,000 wild chinook. The
2017 return was 30,000 and 4,000.
(See CBB, April 27, 2018, “Spring Chinook
Fishing Opens Saturday In Idaho Though Few Fish Have Crossed Lower Granite,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440609.aspx.)
The run of upriver spring chinook could be on
its way. The states and NOAA Fisheries have been monitoring the run size
through gillnet test fishing in the lower river in Zones 2 and 3, March 18
through April 29. During that period the number of salmon caught has risen from
4 on March 18 to 129 April 22.
“There is evidence that this run is late,”
wrote Joe DuPont, Clearwater Region Fisheries Manager, Idaho Department of Fish
and Game, in his April 26 blog (https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/clearwater-region-chinook-update-42718).
The best information to support this is the
data collected in the test fishery, he wrote.
“This data shows capture of Chinook salmon
started real slow and in the last couple weeks have picked up. The fish sampled
in this test fishery typically show up at Bonneville Dam one to three weeks
later, which means more are on their way. These test net numbers are actually
similar to last year, which was the latest spring Chinook run we have seen in
Based on creel data in the recreational
fishery through April 14 in the Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam,
5,712 spring chinook were kept and 835 were released, the result of about
66,000 angler trips (OR and WA combined), the joint report said. Of that total,
there are about 4,332 mortalities of upriver fish, including 4,268 kept and 64
The two states have determined that an upriver
spring chinook return of 81,800 would be adequate to cover the mortalities
accrued in this fishery, and provide allocation for the other non-treaty
fisheries. “Based on a 30 percent buffer on the preseason forecast of 166,700
adult upriver spring chinook, 7,157 mortalities of upriver fish (kept plus
released mortalities) are available to this fishery prior to an in-season
run-size update,” the report said.
Preliminary estimates are at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/columbia_river/
Recreational fishery from Bonneville Dam upstream
to the Highway 395 bridge is open through Monday, May 7. The pre-season
allocation for this fishery is 954 chinook (including release mortalities).
“As is typical for this fishery, catch and
effort have been low to date,” the report said.
The Snake River recreational fishery in
Washington waters is currently open two days per week until further notice.
Through April 23, one chinook has been kept and one released from a total of
331 angler hours. This fishery has 920 mortalities allocated prior to a
The winter season Select Area commercial
fishery concluded April 17. Landings in that fishery total 1,110 chinook,
including about 90 upriver fish. The spring season opener occurred on April 19
with approximately 257 chinook landed, including 36 upriver fish.
No mainstem commercial fishery in the lower
Columbia River is currently planned for 2018, the report said.
--CBB, April 13, 2018, “Low Bonneville Dam
Passage For Spring Chinook Results In One More Fishing Day In Lower Columbia,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440519.aspx
-- CBB, February 23, 2018, “States Set Columbia
River Spring Chinook Fishing, Hear Concerns About Upriver Allocations,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440263.aspx
-- CBB, February 2, 2018, “2018 Fishing
Season: Gillnetting Begins For Salmon, Smelt In Limited Areas Of Mainstem