Oregon and Washington this week opened spring chinook salmon angling from Buoy 10 to the Oregon/Washington border in March. The opening in the lower river is the first time since 2018 that anglers will be allowed to pursue the prized fish early in the season from Buoy 10 to the Lewis River in Washington.
A letter signed by 68 salmon and fisheries scientists summarizes actions they say are necessary to protect and restore abundant salmon and steelhead runs to the Columbia/Snake river basin. The letter is “intended to help inform regional and national leaders on the policies and actions necessary to restore to a healthy abundance salmon currently listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.”
As they do every year from December through May, threatened eulachon (smelt) are returning from the Pacific Ocean and flooding into the lower Columbia River. The smelt – a 7 in., 2.5 oz. fish – may already be moving into their favorite spawning tributaries, the Cowlitz River in Washington and the Sandy River in Oregon, where their numbers peak in February.
The robust fishery science literature— beginning with the “Plan for Analyzing and Testing Hypothesis” (Marmorek et al.1998) in the 1990s and continuing to the 2020 report “Achieving Productivity to Recover and Restore Columbia River Stream-type Chinook Salmon (Petrosky et al. 2020)—documents the necessity to achieve an average 4% smolt-to-adult return (SAR) survival in order to recover Snake River (Idaho) salmon and steelhead.
A new report from Washington State’s Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office shows that most salmon populations in the state still are not making progress and some are teetering on the brink of extinction.
The 2021 upriver spring chinook run, if the fish come in as forecasted, would fall into the bottom 25 percent of runs in the last 40 years, according to a preseason forecast by fisheries managers.
River operators are holding the Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam to 11.5 to 13 feet above sea level, a tailwater depth at the dam designed to ensure chum salmon can spawn and that their redds (nests) will remain underwater near Ives and Pierce islands.
On June 23, 2019, a large landslide at Big Bar blocked a remote section of British Columbia’s Fraser River, one of the great salmon rivers in the world. Enough debris fell into the river to fill 45 Olympic-sized swimming pools, blocking fish passage.
Coho salmon are returning to northeast Oregon’s Lostine River in record numbers almost five decades after they disappeared from the same basin. Once again the coho are supporting tribal harvest and a new Oregon recreational fishery.