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Lower expectations for 2013 spring chinook returns

Fisherman Buzz Ramsey holds a spring chinook salmon he caught on the lower Columbia River. (Courtesy photo)
Fisherman Buzz Ramsey holds a spring chinook salmon he caught on the lower Columbia River. (Courtesy photo)

FISHING --  A spring chinook run of 141,400 — the poorest in six years — is forecast to enter the Columbia River destined for upstream of Bonneville Dam,  according to figures released by Washington and Oregon fish managers this week.

"The forecast is down from what we're used to seeing in recent years, but it's still not one of the worst ever and could be an average-size return," said Kathryn Kostow, Oregon Fish and Wildlife and Columbia River Technical Advisory Committee chairman, comparing data back to the 1980s.

“This is awful,’’ said Larry Snyder, president of the Vancouver Wildlife League and an avid spring chinook angler in a Vancouver Columbian story by Allen Thomas. “I don’t see a very long season this year.’’

Preliminary numbers for summer and fall chinook heading up the Columbia look to be in good shape, but the early forecast for sockeye is about half of the record returns that prompted a huge turnout of boats this summer.

Predictions on spring chinook returns vary wildly and can be inaccurate. Last year's forecast of 314,200, which would have been the fourth-largest since 1980, fell far short at 203,100.

The largest spring chinook return on record was 416,500 (364,600 was the forecast) in 2001, and the worst was 9,800 (12,000) in 1995.

The forecast in tributaries above Bonneville Dam such as Wind River, White Salmon River and Drano Lake usually come out in late January.

Fishing seasons will be decided Jan. 30 by state, federal and tribal fishery managers in Portland. 

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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