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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

September 11, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Single-day counts of chinook remain strong at Bonneville Dam on Columbia River

The strong chinook return on the Lower Columbia River still remains strong but could the peak have been Monday’s record single-day count?

According to Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, the single-day count of 63,870 adult fall chinook at Bonneville Dam on Monday smashed the previous record set just last Saturday of 48,710. The record before that was 45,884 fish set on Sept. 11, 2003.

“They continue to rumble on through and (Tuesday) it was 56,044 (which is the second largest return on record),” Hymer said. “That is incredible, and Monday may be the peak but we’ll see. As far as I can tell going back through the annual counts since 1938, the 63,870 adult chinook counted at Bonneville may be a record daily count for all salmon, not just fall chinook.”

Other large single-day counts this season are: 42,445 on Sunday (Sept. 6); 48,710 on Saturday (Sept. 7); 25,956 on Friday (Sept. 6); 20,216 on Thursday (Sept. 5).

So far, 531,061 chinook have been counted at Bonneville and is the third largest return. The second largest return was 584,000 in 2004 and the largest was 610,000 in 2003.

“We could pass that second big return very soon,” Hymer said. “Fishing the last couple of days has been a little slow, and I don’t know if it is the softer tides or the fish have moved over the dam? Fishing is still good but not phenomena like it had been where at the Cowlitz mouth it was a two fish per rod average including wild fish released. (Thursday) is the last day for the hatchery chinook fishery below the mouth of Lewis on the Lower Columbia mainstem.”

King fishing above the Bonneville Dam is still going pretty good with most of the activity happening at the mouth of tributaries like Drano Lake and the Klicklitat River. The Klickitat River itself has also been really good for chinook when it is in shape. Bonneville Pool is also producing a decent catch.

To view the fish at Bonneville Dam, go to http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environment/Fish/Cameras.aspx.

Given the unprecedented high counts recently at Bonneville Dam, Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) fishery managers provided a range of estimates for both the Bonneville Pool Hatchery and Upriver Bright chinook stocks.  The Upriver Bright adult chinook return is between  664,000 to 835,000 adult with a preseason forecast of 434,600.

The previous record (since at least 1964) was 420,700 fish in 1987.

The Bonneville Pool Hatchery chinook return is between 70,000 to 80,000 adult fish with a preseason forecast of 36,300.

The updated the Group A steelhead run size is 205,000 fish total, including 86,000 wild fish.  This week’s projection is an increase from last week’s, but is still below the preseason forecast of 291,000.

The Group B steelhead run size was not updated, but it continues to track behind expectations.

The TAC will meet Monday, Sept. 16.

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