The Columbia River fall chinook returns continue to wax expectations and fishing remains good in the lower sections below Bonneville Dam.
“There has been an uptick in the commercial fishery on Tuesday night, and sport catches picked up this week and it appears some fish are moving through the system,” Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who mentioned including fish released it has been about a chinook per rod average. “The weather change might have got them moving again, and some of the better fishing has been off the sand bars either in Vanouver, Longview or Kalama. Boats have been doing the same with the best results happening at the mouth of Cowlitz with a lot of fish being released.”
The single-day counts at Bonneville Dam were: 23,268 adult fall chinook on Wednesday; 18,896 on Tuesday; 21,370 on Monday; 28,761 on Sunday; and 22,755 on Saturday for a total of 740,756 so far this season.
Based on The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) inseason forecasts for upriver stocks and the preseason forecasts for the lower river stocks, the Columbia River return is projected to reach nearly 1,200,000 adult fall Chinook in 2013. Fall Chinook passage at Bonneville Dam since August 1 totals nearly 717,500 adults. Counts remain strong, and cumulative passage has reached a record high. The run is typically around 80% complete by now.
The total upriver fall Chinook run is a record run with 1,055,800 upriver origin fall Chinook expected to enter the Columbia River. TAC expects over 950,000 upriver origin fall Chinook to pass Bonneville Dam. The adult fall Chinook count at McNary Dam is 169,207. The 60,000 fish escapement goal was met on September 7.
The adult fall Chinook count at Lower Granite Dam is 19,384 through September 17. The cumulative adult fall Chinook counts at Lower Granite, Little Goose and Lower Monumental Dams are all record high counts to date since the construction of the four lower Snake River Dams between 1961 and 1975.
Anglers above Bonneville were also scoring good catches of kings.
“We’ve seen some pretty good catches in Lower Klickitat, and it is pretty crowded for bank anglers,” Hymer said. “Boat anglers out at Drano were also catching chinook, and some fish were being caught at the mouth of both tribuaties. A relatively new gig is fishing just off the bottom with with eggs.