Friday, February 3, 2012

Managers Forecasting Big Run of Spring Chinook for the Columbia and Snake Rivers

Fisheries managers from Oregon and Washington recently released preseason run forecasts for this year's run of Spring Chinook on the Columbia River and they're predicting the fourth largest run since the construction of Bonneville Dam in 1938. While only a small fraction of the forecasted 314,000 "upriver" chinook - fish which spawn above Bonneville - are wild, returns of stream bred spring chinook are also predicted to see an uptick. Wild Snake River spring Chinook were listed in 1992 as threatened bottomed out at the mid-1990s when fewer than 3500 fish returned to the massive, 107 thousand square mile river basin. Thanks to improvements in downstream passage, court mandated spill and good ocean conditions, this year's wild component for the Snake is forecasted to be 39,000 a significant improvement that would bring this years abundance above NOAA's recovery goal for Snake River spring/summer chinook of 20,382.

While the preseason forecasts is good news for the Columbia River, recent returns have fallen well short of their preseason predictions and the actual run size remains to be seen. Two chinook have already passed Bonneville dam, a trickle which will undoubtedly grow in the coming months. In the meantime managers and anglers are left to cross their fingers and hope the preseason forecast holds true, if it does it will be a banner year for the Columbia and an important step towards recovery.

More information in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

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