Although the 2020 preseason forecast for upriver spring chinook is higher than last year’s actual return of the fish to the Columbia River, the expected run is still just 43 percent of the 10-year average.
Every fall Columbia River dam operators manage river flows through Hanford Reach to provide minimum flow protections for wild fall chinook salmon nests, also known as redds, at Vernita Bar.
Oregon and Washington fisheries agencies are continuing their closure of a 17-mile stretch of the mainstem Columbia River upstream of McNary Dam to the state line to steelhead angling and retention through March 31, 2020 due to fears that some hatcheries may not make their steelhead brood stock collection goals. The run of summer steelhead in 2019 is the fifth lowest run size since 1954, when McNary Dam was built near the Oregon town of Umatilla.
Spawning of threatened Lower Columbia River chum salmon in the Ives/Pierce Island area downstream of Bonneville Dam area on the Columbia River’s north shore is nearing an end, prompting the interagency Technical Management Team this week to set a date to transition to incubation flows designed to protect the chum nests, or redds.
More than 500 threatened chum salmon were counted at the end of November on spawning grounds downstream of Bonneville Dam in the Ives/Pierce island area on the Columbia’s north shore. Although only halfway through the spawning season for these salmon, an anadromous fish expert with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says this year’s tally could end up being higher than the last five-year average.
Low steelhead returns mean no steelhead will be released into the Boise River for the first time in more than 20 years. It's an annual event that many anglers look forward to all year, but there aren't enough fish available at the trap in Hells Canyon to do it.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game says it is “well on its way to meeting broodstock goals” for steelhead at Snake, Salmon and Clearwater River hatcheries.
Two of the scientists who reviewed the phase 1 report that assesses the feasibility of reintroducing salmon and steelhead upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee dams told the Northwest Power and Conservation Council Wednesday that a cost analysis should be incorporated early in the process and in a stepwise fashion if the effort is to move forward.
Although operations at Bonneville Dam that sets a tailwater elevation designed to provide ideal spawning conditions for threatened Columbia River chum salmon downstream of the dam began Monday, few chum have yet to hear the call.