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Thu., May 10, 2012, 1:23 p.m.

Columbia salmon surge: better late than never

Spring chinook salmon counts over Bonneville Dam, reported May 10, 2012. (Fish Passage Center)
Spring chinook salmon counts over Bonneville Dam, reported May 10, 2012. (Fish Passage Center)

SALMON FISHING -- Shortly after the 2012 spring chinook run expectations were downsized, the surge in a late-holding run finally began. Biologists are watching closely; anglers are baiting up.

The largest single-day count of spring chinook of the last nine years climbed over Bonneville Dam on Wednesday.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsmen shucked out a few more numbers:

The surge of 18,436 fish is the fifth largest going back through the early 2000's renaissance of the run and sixth largest back to the late 1930s, he said.

The former figure itself is higher than totals for every day of this year's return except Tuesday and Wednesday.

And Wednesday's aggregate brings the three-day total to 39,517 springers, meaning almost half of 2012's run, which now is up to 81,863, has come through the dam since Monday.

The top five all-time best days are April 18, 2001 (27,020), April 30, 2002 (25,631), May 1, 2002 (20,847), April 29, 1972 (19241) and April 15, 2001 (19,192).

In recent years, the best single day has been May 1, 2011, when 15,766 went through.

Washington and Oregon fish managers are watching the returns closely. Any run adjustments most likely would be made on Monday.

Meanwhile, expect a crowd at Drano Lake and Wind River. Anglers and salmon are all showing up at once.

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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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