Joe Hymer, the state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver just sent out an email confirming that now, “we are now officially at the largest fall chinook count (and still counting) at Bonneville since the dam was built in 1938!”
The old record was 610,700 fish in 2003, and was surpassed by Friday afternoon. This consists of three stocks of upriver chinook and one sub-stock headed to the Snake River.
Just the upriver chinook forecast alone is somewhere between 664,000 to 835,000 adult chinook, and much larger than the record 420,000 set in 1987.
Through Friday, Sept. 13 – by 1 p.m. there were 9,600 adult chinook at the Washington shore and an additional 2,500 counted at Bradford Island – for a total of 12,100 adult chinook mid-way through the counting day.
More than 48,700 chinook set a new single-day record count at Bonneville Dam last Saturday, Sept. 7, and was then broken Monday, Sept. 9 when 63,870 hit the fish ladder followed by 56,044 on Tuesday, Sept. 10, and 42,506 on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
This allowed a more liberal fishing season in the Lower Columbia River below Bonneville Dam starting Friday, Sept. 13.
The new rules are:
Allow anglers to continue fishing for chinook salmon through the end of the year in all areas of the mainstem Columbia River below Bonneville Dam open to salmon fishing.
Expand the area open to chinook retention by moving the lower boundary from Rocky Point 16 miles downstream to Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia.
Allow anglers to catch and keep up to two adult chinook salmon per day as part of their catch limit below Bonneville Dam. Through Sept. 30, only hatchery chinook with a clipped adipose fin and healed scar may be retained downstream from the Lewis River.
Starting Oct. 1, anglers fishing that area may retain either marked or unmarked chinook after most of the wild tule chinook have moved out of the mainstem Columbia.
Allow anglers aboard a vessel in the Columbia River from Buoy 10 to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco to continue fishing until the daily limit of salmon/steelhead for all anglers aboard is achieved.
Daily limit below Bonneville Dam is two adult salmon, two adult steelhead or one of each.