FISHING -- Plan now for plenty of free time this fall to get on board with a potential record run of fall chinook salmon forecast for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River.
The preliminary forecast released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife last week predicts the largest run of of the BIG upriver brights bound for the Hanford Reach since records have been kept.
The forecast is for 432,500 upriver brights, which would top the record of 420,700 that actually came up the river in 1987.
Last year, 353,500 upriver brights were forecast in February, but the actual return were 298,000.
Snake River wild chinook are forecast for a big increase this year. Last year 15,100 were forecast and 16,700 showed up. This year, however, the forecast calls for 31,600 wild chinook.
The total forecast of 677,900 Columbia River fall chinook to lower and upper river fisheries is greater than the 10-year average actual return (547,900) and would be the highest return since 2004 if the forecast holds.