SALMON FISHING -- Preliminary forecasts for salmon returns, announced this week, give anglers three good reasons to look forward to 2012:
- Upriver spring chinook, expected to be the fourth largest since at least 1980.
- Summer chinook, could be the largest since at least 1980.
- Sockeye, tentatively expected to be the largest since at least 1938. (Record is 387,900 fish in 2010).
The 2012 preliminary forecast for upriver Columbia River spring chinook -- which includes Snake River fish bound for Idaho -- is 314,200 fish compared with this year's forecast of 198,400 and an actual return of 221,200, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say.
If the forecast holds for next year, it would be the fourth largest dating back to 1938. The largest recorded return was 440,300 in 2001.
The second largest occurred in 2002 when 335,000 upriver springers returned and the third largest was 315,000 in 2010.
The Upper Columbia spring chinook forecast in 2012 is 32,600 compared to a 22,400 forecast last year and an actual return of 16,500.
The Snake River spring/summer forecast in 2012 is 168,000 compared to 91,700 last year (127,500 was actual return). The Snake River wild spring chinook is 39,000 in 2012 compared to 24,700 last year (31,600).
The Columbia River spring chinook are prized by anglers for their tasty, Omega-3 laced, red-orange-colored meat, which is similar to fish from Alaska's Copper River, says Mark Yuasa of the Seattle Times.
Looking further ahead the Upper Columbia summer chinook forecast also looks very promising.