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Tribes Get More Fishing Days Above Bonneville; Steelhead Numbers Still A Concern
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2018 (PST)

Treaty commercial gillnetters, who have fished several days a week since August 27 for fall chinook salmon in Zone 6, are adding another few days this week.


The two-state Columbia River Compact this week approved adding 2.5 days, Sept. 26 – 28, bringing the total days fishing mostly in the Bonneville and John Day pools to 18.5 days since their opening.


Through Sept. 22, tribal gillnetters have caught 42,962 fall chinook; 21,951 of those are upriver bright chinook, and the total through Sept. 28 is expected to rise to 46,962 fish overall, 24,651 expected to be the URB fish that, when determining harvest allocations are considered a surrogate for Snake River fall chinook, according to the Sept. 25 Fall Fact Sheet No. 7 ( The treaty allocation is 28,198 based on the pre-season URB forecasted run size.


The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which forecasts run sizes in pre-season and adjusts those forecasts in-season, met Monday, Sept. 24, deciding to stick with its latest forecast of URB of 122,600 fish. However, TAC did adjust its forecasts for Pool Upriver Brights to 21,600 and Bonneville Pool Hatchery to 38,200 fish, according to Stuart Ellis of the Columbia River InterTribal Fish Commission and TAC lead. That may change when TAC meets again next week, he added.


“With the surprisingly large dam count yesterday,” he said at the Compact hearing Tuesday, Sept. 25, “when we meet next week our current expectations may turn out to be a little bit low. The forecast shouldn’t be lower and it may be 2 to 3,000 more.”


According to the Fish Passage Center (, more than 5,000 fall chinook adults passed over Bonneville Monday. Prior to that Sept. 20 through Sept. 23, the count has been 3,447, 4,913, 4,047 and 2,966. Total fall chinook over the dam this year is 158,442 adults and 24,590 jacks. Last year on the same date, the count was 265,996 adults and 30,401 jacks. Both years are considerably lower than the 10-year average of 467,790 adults and 69,021 jacks.


The allowable impact rate for combined treaty Indian and non-treaty fisheries is 31.25 percent of the URB run based on preseason forecasts, the Fact Sheet says. This impact limit is allocated 23 percent to treaty Indian fisheries and 8.25 percent to non-treaty fisheries.


The escapement goal at the Spring Creek Hatchery is 7,000 adult fall chinook (BPH stock). Some 16,000 BPH stock have already reached the hatchery, Ellis said. The management goal for adult fall chinook at McNary Dam is 60,000 fish. The count at McNary as of Sept. 24 was 64,418 adults and 7,274 jacks. Last year on the same date the count was 82,552 adults and 6,775 jacks. The 10-year average is 169,843 adults and 27,315 jacks.


The river from the mouth to the Oregon/Washington border closed to salmonid fishing for both commercial non-treaty gillnetters and recreational fishers two weeks ago, Sept. 12, when anglers exceeded the non-treaty allocation. The closure applies to chinook, coho and steelhead (steelhead fishing on the Columbia actually closed earlier, on Aug. 27 due to a lower than anticipated run of fish). See CBB, September 14, 2018, “Salmonid Fishing Closed On The Columbia River; 2018 A Bad Year For Salmon Returns,”


The steelhead run, particularly the B-run (index) wild component of the run, continues to be of concern.


Through Sept. 24, some 83,136 A- and B-run steelhead including 26,693 unclipped fish have passed Bonneville Dam. Unclipped fish include both wild and unclipped hatchery fish. TAC’s update to the total expected run of A- and B-run steelhead is 92,800 fish at Bonneville Dam. Of those, 64,500 are clipped hatchery origin fish and 28,300 are unclipped.


To break the numbers of steelhead down further, the Fact Sheet says that of the total 69,500 A-run fish expected, 48,900 are hatchery, with 2,900 of those unclipped hatchery fish. Some 20,600 of the A-run are wild. Of the total 23,300 B-run fish, some 20,700 are hatchery, of which 2,200 are unclipped hatchery fish. The wild component totals just 2,600.


Based on the updated forecast, treaty impacts are limited to 15 percent of B-run, but allowed impacts decline to 13 percent if the B-index run size is less than 20,000. Through Sept. 22 treaty gillnetters have caught 418 B-run fish and by the end of this week, the count is expected to rise to 578 B-run fish. The tribes do not itemize whether the B-run fish caught are wild or hatchery.


The goal for upriver coho salmon passage at Bonneville Dam is 50 percent of the ocean abundance. Total passage this year was expected to be 51,800 adult coho, 65 percent of the forecasted ocean abundance of Columbia River coho destined for areas upstream of Bonneville Dam, the Fact Sheet says. Through Sept. 24, 26,514 coho adults and 5,003 jacks have passed Bonneville Dam. Last year on the same date, 40,063 adults and 2,478 jacks had passed the dam. The 10-year average is 66,801 adults and 4,274 jacks. Total treaty harvest is expected to be 2,321 coho.


Fishing effort, Ellis said, is declining from a high of 622 gillnet boats Sept. 3 through 7, to the expected number this week of under 500 boats.


“There is some indication that some fishers are packing it up for the season,” Ellis said. “I’m guessing the number of boats will be closer to 400 than to 500.”


The Compact’s Sept. 25, 2018 Action Notice is at


Also see:


--CBB, August 17, 2018,”WDFW Restricts Fisheries On Columbia River, Two Tributaries To Support Steelhead Run,”


-- CBB, Aug. 10, 2018, “Hot Water Temperatures Prompt Oregon/Washington To Close Deschutes, Yakima River Mouths To Fishing,”


--CBB, July 27, 2018, “Fall Chinook Fishing Begins Wednesday With Run Forecasted At 50 Percent Of 10-Year Average,”

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