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Field reports: Expectations lower for spring chinook

Spring chinook salmon are prized for table quality.  (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Spring chinook salmon are prized for table quality. (File / The Spokesman-Review)

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 chair, comparing data to the 1980s.

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 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.

Snowy owl adopts Mt. Spokane High School

WILDLIFE The snowy owl that’s been hanging out at or near Mt. Spokane High School for the past month is showing no signs of giving up what must be a great hunting area – and a certain celebrity status.

Teachers and students have been observing the winter migrant from the arctic, and birdwatches have been checking it out daily as it perches and hunts nearby.

Fly-tying classes set for January

FISHING – Two fly-tying courses are coming up at Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley:

• For steelheaders, Jan. 5, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: learn modern patterns. $50.

• For beginners, Jan 7-8, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: learn six effective patterns. $50.

Preregister: (509) 924-9998.

Nordic trails open at Echo Ridge

SKIING – Leavenworth’s Icicle River Nordic ski trail and Chelan’s Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area both opened for the season this week.

The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club operates the 4.9-mile Icicle trail.

Echo Ridge offers 25 miles for skiing above Lake Chelan.

Captive deer attacks woman in Montana

WILDLIFE – A Florence, Mont., woman was seriously injured when she was attacked by a whitetail deer buck that apparently was being kept illegally at her residence.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the initial investigation indicated the woman was keeping the deer in a pen. It is illegal for people to possess live game animals.