September 30, 2013 at 8:33 pm #473MikeKeymaster
Thursday, May 13, 2004
ALLEN THOMAS Columbian staff writer
The spring chinook salmon run headed for the upper Columbia and Snake
rivers appears to be 48 percent smaller than predicted.
State, federal and tribal biologists have updated the forecast,
downgrading it from a prediction of 360,700 in December to 189,200
Although counts at Bonneville Dam were small in March and early
April, that was expected because the early returning 5-year-old
component was anticipated to be 6 percent of the run.
But the 4-year-olds, which peak in mid-April at Bonneville, just
never showed the expected strength. Chinook passing Bonneville
through May 31 are considered the spring race.
If the run is 189,200, state fishery officials exceeded their
allowed take under the federal Endangered Species Act, although not
Wild spring chinook headed for the upper Columbia and Snake
rivers are protected under the ESA. An agreement between the states,
federal government and treaty Indian tribes limits non-Indians to
killing no more than 2 percent of the wild fish.
Sport and commercial seasons in the lower Columbia target on the
plentiful hatchery-origin chinook. Both groups release wild fish.
Still, some wild fish die despite being released. Those dead fish are
State biologists calculate and monitor during the season how fast
those impacts are being used to ensure the 2 percent ceiling is not
Although state managers set aside significant buffers to be sure
the 2 percent ceiling was not achieved, no one anticipated the actual
spring chinook run would be so far under the forecast.
If the run is 189,200, the non-Indian impacts are about 2.5
“Our management was responsible and conservative in all the
fisheries,” said Cindy LeFleur of the Washington Department of Fish
Although predictions are generally a little high or a little low,
the average of overages and underages is a 99 percent accuracy rate,
In February, March and April downstream of Bonneville Dam, there
were 164,000 fishing trips with a total catch of 33,450 spring
chinook and a kept catch of 25,624.
In March, the commercial fleet caught 18,576 chinook and kept
13,546 fish. Another 7,300 chinook were caught and kept in off-
channel areas such as Youngs Bay, Blind Slough and Deep River.
Commercial fisheries in the off-channel areas were closed
indefinitely last week to avoid any incidental catch of upper
Columbia chinook, which is historically small in those areas.
Sport fishing in a portion of the Snake River also was closed to
prevent any additional spring chinook harvest.
Tribal fishermen between Bonneville and McNary dams are allowed
to catch 9 percent of the spring salmon run. They are projected to be
at 8.1 percent at the end of netting on Friday.
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