With a run-size roughly half of the 10-year
average, recreational anglers on the mainstem Columbia River will begin fishing
for fall chinook August 1.
The two-state Columbia River Compact set the
fall season regulations in April. This week it also set Treaty sturgeon fishing
in Zone 6 – Bonneville to McNary dams – and non-Treaty select area commercial
gillnetting in the lower Columbia River.
The projected return of fall chinook to the
Columbia River is 375,500, 79 percent of last year’s run of 476,100 and 50
percent of the 10-year average (2008-2017).
This year’s forecast includes 205,100 upriver
bright chinook, compared to a return of 297,423 in 2017. Of those 9,600 are
wild chinook headed to the Snake River in 2018, somewhat fewer than last year’s
Snake River run of 11,750.
Based on this lower forecast, fisheries will
be managed for a harvest rate of 8.25 percent, down from 15 percent in the
recent years, resulting in shorter fall chinook retention seasons, according to
the Compact Fall Fact Sheet No 1 (https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/FS/18/18_07_26ff1.pdf).
For details on fall season recreational
fishing see CBB, April 27, 2018, “States Set Summer, Fall Chinook Seasons;
Below Average Forecasts Means Less Fishing,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440610.aspx
The allowable impact rate for
combined treaty and non-treaty fisheries is 45 percent of the upriver bright
run based on preseason forecasts – the upriver bright stock is the surrogate
for Snake River wild chinook), the Fact Sheet says. This impact limit is
allocated 30 percent for treaty fisheries and 15 percent for non-treaty
fisheries. However, this year, due to the reduced
anticipated run size that is near a 200,000 fish threshold, non-treaty
fisheries are allocated 8.25 percent of the upriver bright stocks.
The six major management groups of fall
chinook include select area bright, lower river hatchery, lower river wild,
Bonneville pool hatchery, upriver bright and Mid-Columbia bright (comprised of
pool upriver bright and lower river bright stocks).
Some 182,400 upriver summer steelhead are
forecasted for 2018, including 57,700 unclipped (48,200 wild) steelhead. The
A-run of steelhead (less than 78 centimeters, about 31 inches) forecast is 62
percent of the 10-year average, while the B-run (larger than 78 cm) is 60
percent of the 10-year average.
However, steelhead passage at Bonneville Dam
is running behind schedule with counts – July 1-24 – of 16,970 fish, less than
the expected 25,300 fish and is about one-third of the 10-year average or about
50 percent of the recent 5-year average. Passage at Bonneville (July–October)
is typically 50 percent complete by August 13.
The count of unclipped steelhead – July 1-24 –
was 8,272 fish (49 percent of the forecasted run) which is 66 percent of the
expected passage for this period.
“The B-run forecast shows double what we had
last year, but the numbers at Bonneville are not tracking” with the forecast,”
warned Rick Stillwater, a Columbia River recreational advisor from the upper
reaches of the Columbia River. “I’m worried that the wild B-run is not going to
reach the forecast and it could be worse than last year.”
The coho salmon run this year is forecasted to
be 213,600 fish. That includes 127,200 early stock and 86,400 late stock. The
forecast is 51 percent of the 10-year average of 416,100 fish. Some 51,800 of
the coho will pass Bonneville Dam. Just 2 have been counted at the dam so far
this year, which is not unusual according to the Fact Sheet.
Conditions in the river are near normal, said
John North of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Flow at Bonneville is
about 191,000 cubic feet per second, while the 5-year average for this time of
year is 160 kcfs. The water temperature at Bonneville is 70 degrees Fahrenheit,
while the 5-year average is 70.2 F.
The temperature at Bonneville may not be
indicative of what is happening elsewhere in the Columbia River Basin,
according to Dave Moscowitz, executive director of The Conservation Angler.
“Half the steelhead (that have passed
Bonneville Dam) are somewhere between Bonneville and the John Day Dam and that
may be due to warm water,” Moscowitz said. “The run is still very low and the
returns are at risk.”
He added that the Deschutes River water
temperature at its confluence with the Columbia, which can usually be relied on
to be a cold water refuge, is already at 71 degrees. In addition, the warm
water will force fish into Drano Lake on the Washington side of the Columbia, a
cool water refuge, he said, yet the Compact is allowing both recreational and
tribal fishing in the lake, which should not be allowed.
There have been some reports of white sturgeon
mortalities caused by warm water, according to the Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife’s Laura Heironimus, sturgeon/smelt/Pikeminnow
unit lead. She said biologists have documented about six mortalities in
July, but only one has been verified. “As of now, there is no indication of a sturgeon
die off,” she said.
With quotas of white sturgeon remaining in the
Bonneville and John Day pools, the Compact approved the Treaty Tribes’ plan to
continue commercial setline, platform and hook and line fishing in those two
The sturgeon allocation for Treaty fishing in
the Bonneville pool is 325 fish. Just 78 have been caught, with 247 remaining
in the allocation.
The sturgeon allocation in the The Dalles pool
is 415 fish and all 415 have been caught.
The sturgeon allocation in the John Day pool
is 210 fish. Some 162 have been caught and 48 remain in the allocation.
Treaty commercial setline fishing in the John
Day pool begins 6 am Friday, July 27, and ends 6 pm Saturday, Aug. 4. Setline
fishing in the Bonneville pool begins 6 am Monday, Aug. 6 and ends 6 pm,
Saturday, Aug. 18.
Commercial platform and hook and line sturgeon
fishing in Zone 6 begins Aug. 1 and ends Dec. 31, as does Yakama Nation
commercial sturgeon fishing in Zone 6 tributaries.
Commercial platform and hook and line sturgeon
fishing downstream of Bonneville Dam begins Aug. 1 and ends Oct. 31.
Select area commercial gillnetting will also
continue. Expected harvest include 36,100 coho and 2,800 select area bright
fall chinook (hatchery fish). The expected coho catch would be 63 percent of
the 10-year average catch, while that of the chinook brights would be 38
percent of the 10-year average.
Based on recent performance and the 2018
forecast, the expected escapement of tule fall chinook to the Big Creek
Hatchery east of Astoria may not meet broodstock needs, therefore the fishery
proposal for the Blind/Knappa Slough site is modified from recent years,
according to the Compact Fact Sheet.
So far this year, white sturgeon landings in
select area fisheries are 265 fish, or 22 percent of the 1,230 commercial
The Compact opened to commercial gillnetting
the Deep River select area fishery Aug. 27 – 30, using the larger 9-3/4 inch
mesh gillnets. After Sept. 8 gillnetters will be required to go to a smaller 6
inch mesh. Deep River will also be open Monday through Friday nights Sept. 3 –
22 (15 nights) and Sept. 24 – October 12 (12 nights)
“Use of large mesh gear in late August and
early September focuses harvest on Chinook during peak abundance, which should
reduce escapement of Chinook into Grays River,” the Compact Fact Sheet says.
“The reduced mesh size (after September 8) and additional periods for the first
three weeks in September are intended to maximize Coho harvest, and a
mid-October end date reduces Chum handle.”
Knappa/Blind Slough is open Monday and
Wednesday night Aug. 27 and 29, as well as Monday through Thursday nights Sept.
3 through Oct. 26 (32 nights).
Tongue Point and South Channel select areas
will be open Monday and Wednesday nights, Aug. 27 and 29, and Monday through
Thursday nights Sept. 3 through Oct. 26 (32 nights).
The Youngs Bay select area will be open for
several 36-hour periods, 7 pm Wednesday, Aug. 1 to 7 am Friday, Aug. 3, 7 pm
Tuesday to 7 am, and Thursday weekly August 7-23, as well as Monday and
Wednesday nights Aug. 27–30 (7 pm – 7 am and 7 pm Monday, Sept. 3 to noon
Wednesday Oct. 31 (58 days).
For information concerning these decisions see
the July 26, 2018 Fall Fact Sheet #1 at: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/OSCRP/CRM/fact_sheets.asp.
--CBB, July 13, 2018, “Summer Chinook Angling
Ends Upstream Of Bonneville Dam, Treaty Fishing Gets Three More Days,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/441103.aspx
--CBB, June 29, 2018, “With Run Downgrade,
Summer Chinook Fishing Below Bonneville Dam Ends Early; Sockeye Above
--CBB, June 8, 2018, “Spring Chinook Fishing
Extended With Increased Bag Limit; So Far, Jacks Passage Very Low,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/440892.aspx