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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 28, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Columbia River sockeye return is upgraded to 540,000 fish, which is 78,000 more than the preseason forecast

While one Columbia River salmon run heads onward and upward, another might be headed down the drain of despair.

What that means is the predicted sockeye return has skyrocketed above expectations, and the summer chinook are much lower than predicted.

“The sockeye return is ten times as large as the other,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

The Bonneville Dam counts of sockeye total 321,462 fish through Wednesday, June 27. Based on the 10-year average, passage is typically 50-percent complete by June 25, but has been as late as July 1.

The preseason sockeye forecast is 462,000 adult fish at the Columbia River mouth, and would be the largest return since at least 1938.

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) made up of Washington, Oregon and tribal fisheries managers updated the sockeye run this morning to 540,000 at the river mouth.

“Sockeye fishing is tapering off a little bit, and the water flows have come up and has dampened the catch, but they are still doing well maybe just not as well as they had been doing,” Hymer said.

If you assume the average weight of sockeye is today is the same as it was in 1923, this year’s run will be the best since 1923 when the run was probably over 700,000.

The Bonneville Dam counts of adult upper Columbia summer chinook total is 23,070 fish from June 16-27.

Based on the 10-year average, passage is typically 50-percent complete by June 29, but has been as late as July 1.

The preseason forecast is 91,200 adult fish at the Columbia River mouth, and would be the largest return since at least 1980.

The TAC has downgraded the return at the mouth of the river to 54,000 adults.

Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye below Bonneville Dam will close Monday, July 2 as planned. Hatchery-marked steelhead fishing will stay open.

Summer chinook and sockeye fishing between Bonneville Dam and Priest Rapids Dam will remain open through July 31.

Total non-Indian chinook mortalities for fisheries below Priest Rapids Dam are estimated at 5,361 fish compared to 1,800 allocated at the current run size.

The chinook allocation to fisheries upstream of Priest Rapids Dam will have to be reduced by about 3,300 fish, Hymer said, in order to remain within the 10,249 fish allowed to in-river non-treaty fisheries.

Catches of sturgeon have been good below Wauna, and the last day of sturgeon retention will be July 4, and was orginially planned for July 8.

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