Once the run is complete, a biologist with the Washington fishery department said that some 7.5 million pounds of eulachon, also known as Pacific smelt, will have entered the Columbia River. That’s 3 million pounds more than showed up in 2019.
Three ocean salmon fishery alternatives that were approved for public review Monday, March 9, by the Pacific Fishery Management Council reflect the lowest predicted return of coho salmon to the Columbia River in 20 years.
Oregon and Washington set recreational spring chinook and winter steelhead fishing seasons in the Columbia River downstream of Bonneville Dam that in April limits the number of days per week anglers will be allowed to fish. And, beginning March 1, angling for salmon and steelhead will not be allowed in the river from Warrior Rock at St. Helens, OR downstream to Buoy 10 to protect hatchery fish returning to Cowlitz and Lewis river hatcheries.
In its first hearing of the year, the two-state Columbia River Compact set a commercial smelt gillnet fishery in the lower Columbia River and approved Treaty commercial and hook and line fishing in areas upstream of Bonneville Dam.
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.