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Surge of spring chinook crosses Bonneville Dam

FISHING — What appears to be the biggest one-day tally of spring chinook since 2002 passed over Bonneville Dam on Wednesday, prompting more enthusiasm for the possibility of another lower Columbia River season. The announcement could come after a recalculation of the forecast in the next week or so.

The surge of 17,409 spring chinook counted over Bonneville on Wednesday was more than double the number counted the previous day and the biggest number of the 2014 run.

Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman reports that the only recent higher number was the 18,436 springers over Bonneville on May 9, 2012, “which was the sixth best day recorded going back to the late 1930s:”

This can be peak timing for fishing at Wind River and Drano Lake, just 10 and 21 miles above the plug. PIT tag data shows 384 tagged springers going through the dam over the past week, with 30 and 12 headed to those two Gorge tribs, but most to Idaho.

See our feature on fishing this run of chinook  from the S-R Sunday Outdoors section.

Snake spring chinook seasons get off to slow start

FISHING — The first of the 2014 spring chinook fishing seasons on the Snake River opened Thursday and others open this week on other Washington stretches and into Idaho.

Nothing to get too worked up about YET… as Glen Mendell, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist points out in this report:

The chinook fishing season started 4/24 for the Little Goose and Clarkston areas (Thursday through Saturday each week); and the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite areas open on Sunday (Sunday through Tuesday each week). 

Opening day on Thursday was windy and rainy with light fishing effort. 

Fish counts are finally hitting over a hundred chinook per day at Little Goose, and over 200 per day at Ice Harbor, but only a few dozen fish per day at Lower Granite Dam. 

A few hatchery chinook were caught and kept Thursday at Little Goose, but no harvest was documented at Clarkston.

A few things to note: 

  1. The north shore just below Lower Granite Dam has a construction project so the US Army Corps has made this area off limits to the public (within the flagged or signed area), shoreline fishing is available downstream, plus along the south shore.  The public can cross Lower Granite Dam seven days per week from 7 AM to 5 PM until Memorial weekend when the hours are extended to 7 PM.
  2. The gate at the wall area along the south shore at Little Goose closes at 5 pm, so the public must leave at that time (opens at 6 AM),
  3. The lower fishing boundary for Clarkston is the western power line crossing the Snake River near West Evans Road (not all the way down to West Evans Road).   
  4. Please check the emergency fishing regulations posted at our agency website.
  5. Also note that once you keep your one adult hatchery Chinook salmon, you must stop fishing for salmon, even without having kept any of the daily limit of jacks. 
  6. Also, you must release steelhead, bull trout, and trout caught in the Snake River.

The harvest target for the Snake River is 904 adult hatchery Chinook until the Columbia River run update in early May.  If the run comes in as predicted another 405 hatchery adults will be available for harvest after the run update.  

Extra day offered for lower Columbia spring chinook fishing

FISHING — Anglers will have one more day - Saturday (April 19) - to fish for spring chinook salmon on the lower Columbia River prior to an updated assessment of the run size.

The chinook fishery will be open to boat and bank fishing from Buoy 10 upriver to Rooster Rock. Bank fishing will also be allowed from Rooster Rock upriver to the fishing boundary below Bonneville Dam.

Anglers may retain one hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily catch limit. Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not visibly marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon approved the one-day extension after a week in which anglers caught 6,500 upriver spring chinook, boosting the total catch for the season in the lower Columbia River to 7,880 upriver fish

One more day of fishing is expected to bring the catch levels up to 95 percent of the initial harvest guideline of 10,157 fish, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Catch levels tend to skyrocket at this time of the year,” Roler said. “As in years past, fishing started out slow this season, but you wouldn't know that by what we're seeing out there right now.”

Prior to the start of this year's fishing season, fishery managers estimated that approximately 227,000 upriver spring chinook salmon would return to the Columbia River this year.

Anglers may get additional opportunities to catch spring chinook salmon later this spring, depending on how that estimate compares to the updated forecast planned in the next few weeks, Roler said.

“If the fish return at or above expectations, we will look at providing additional days of fishing on the river later this spring,” he said.

The extended fishing season in the lower Columbia River does not affect the spring chinook season above Bonneville Dam, currently open through May 9 under regulations described on WDFW's website.

Access to Little Salmon River hinges on angler respect

FISHING — A popular stretch of the Little Salmon River at Riggins, Idaho, will be accessible for the spring salmon season thanks to an agreement forged by Fish and Game staff and the local landowner. 

The only “catch” is, salmon anglers have to be on their best behavior, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials say.

In other words, anglers who have the attitude that they have a right to go get to the river regardless of who owns the property could ruin the deal for everyone.

All property on both sides of the Little Salmon from its confluence with Rapid River downstream to milepost 193 is now privately owned, but the 18-month lease targeting the west bank of this river reach will give anglers access to many coveted salmon fishing holes.

“The Department of Fish and Game is obviously pleased with the agreement we’ve reached with the landowner that continues to allow salmon and steelhead fishing access to the Little Salmon River across his private property,” said Virgil Moore, agency director. “The continued use of this segment of the river relies on all of us honoring the access rules outlined in the agreement and respecting private property.”

The local landowner was equally pleased. “We are delighted to have worked with Fish and Game staff to develop this agreement,” property owner Ralph Sletager said. “The agreement provides great fishing access for the public and addresses our concerns as property owners.”

A Little Salmon River access map and rules brochure will soon be available on the Fish and Game website, and also at the Lewiston, McCall and Nampa Fish and Game offices.

Read on for details:

Washington sets 2014 salmon fishing seasons

FISHING — State and tribal co-managers have agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations and provides fishing opportunities on healthy stocks, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department just announced.

Washington’s 2014 salmon fishing seasons were finalized Wednesday during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s  meeting in Vancouver. The regulations cover salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington’s ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.

Recreational salmon fisheries will vary by area.

Read on for details from the WDFW:

Comments sought on Snake River chinook proposals

FISHING — With an encouraging run of spring chinook forecast for 2014, he Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on proposals for a spring chinook salmon fishery on the Snake River in late April and May.
Options have been developed following public meetings in Clarkston on March 26, and Kennewick on March 27.
Now fish managers are asking anglers to comment by answering three questions.
Read on for the questions and details on how to comment by the April 11 deadline.  

Anglers clamor for a springer season near Clarkston

FISHING — Although fisheries officials aren't making a commitment until run size is confirmed, anglers made it clear Wednesday night that they want to be able to catch spring chinook in the Snake River when they move upstream past Clarkston this year.

Biologists listed to their desires and even pointed out the possibility of a short fishing opportunity in the Grande Ronde River.

Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune was at the meeting.   Read on for his report:

Wind River springer fishing seasons set to start

FISHING — The fish are still on their way, but the Washington is announcing spring chinook and steelhead seasons on the Wind River, a popular Columbia River tributary.  Here are details from the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Action:  The daily catch limit will be 2 chinook or 2 hatchery steelhead or one of each at various times and locations on the Wind River. 

  • Wind River from the mouth (boundary line markers) upstream to the

Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge:  Open March 16 through July 31.   

Anglers with a two-pole endorsement may fish with two poles for salmon 

and steelhead May 1 through June 30.  

  • Wind River from Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge upstream to 400 feet

below Shipherd Falls:  Open April 1 through July 31;

  • Wind River from 100 feet above Shipherd Falls to 800 yards downstream of

Carson National Fish Hatchery (except closed waters from 400 feet below to

100 feet above coffer dam):  Open May 1 through June 30.

Species affected:  Chinook and steelhead

Other information:  Release wild chinook downstream from Shipherd Falls. Release all trout other than hatchery steelhead. Minimum size 12 inches for salmon and 20 inches for steelhead.

When fishing for sturgeon or other species, only one pole per angler may be used.

The area from the railroad bridge upstream to Shipherd Falls will be closed to all fishing from March 16-31 to protect wild steelhead when salmon abundance is low. 

Reason for action:  The 2014 Wind River spring chinook returns are expected to be slightly higher than the recent 5 year average and more than twice last year’s actual return.  Surplus hatchery origin fish are available for harvest.

First springer heads up Columbia

FISHING — Here's the harbinger of what should be a better than average spring chinook fishing season in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“First spring Chinook of the year returned to Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery yesterday!” says Joe Hymer, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon specialist in an email received moments ago.

Has Boldt Decision eroded resolve to save wild salmon?

FISHING — I'm not noticing much celebration of the 40th anniversary of the landmark court decision that awarded Indian tribes rights to half of the Pacific salmon returning to their traditional waters.

It's still a political hot potato.

Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd has written a thoughtful piece about the impacts the Boldt Decision has had on our collective resolve to make sure wild salmon continue to be a thriving icon of the Pacific Northwest.

It's worth everybody's time to think about this subject.

2014 poised to be year of the salmon in Washington

SALMON FISHING — The early forecasts are phenomenal.  If you're not making plans for salmon fishing this year, get your head examined.

Here's the latest report from Joe Hymer, salmon specialist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

In addition to nearly a million Columbia River coho swimming in the ocean, 1.6 million fall Chinook are expected to the Columbia River in 2014, the largest return since at least 1938!

Nearly 1 million of those Chinook are expected to be upriver brights of which 2/3 will be four-year-olds. 

This year’s forecasted run is over 25% larger than the 2013 actual return.  Last year’s actual return came in nearly twice as large as the preseason forecast.  

Latest spring chinook forecast looks promising

FISHING — The chart above was just released by Columbia River fisheries managers.  Get your tackle rigged.

2013 was a year of records for fish

FISHING — In my Dec. 29 package of stories looking back at 2013 from the outdoors perspective, fish and fishing were riddled through everything, even beyond the one story focused on fishing highlights.

It was a year to remember — one we'll be referring to again and again as we compare future numbers to records set in 2013.

The end of year fish counts weren't official when I filed my 2013 in review story on Dec. 29. But Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman has this list of record numbers to remember in his just-posted look back at 2013 outdoors.


1,200,000-plus Estimated fall Chinook run size at the mouth of the river

952,944 Final passage at Bonneville Dam

253,575 Sept. 7-11 king count at the dam, a period which included the first, second, third, sixth and seventh largest single-day tallies back to 1938

63,870 Record daily fall Chinook count at Bonneville, set Sept. 9

30,306 Record daily fall Chinook count at McNary Dam, set Sept. 22

29,307 Aug. 1-Sept. 22 king catch in Columbia between Buoy 10 and Bonneville, 1,000 more than old record

23,332 Estimated upriver bright catch in the Hanford Reach, 10,000 more than old record

Not a lot of individual fish set records in 2013, but those that did were impressive, especially the lunker mackinaw landed by a former Spokanite and handled like a baby for official weighing on a hospital emergency room scale used for infants:



Lake Trout, 35.63 pounds, Phil Colyar, Lake Chelan. Lake whitefish, 6.81 pounds, Tony Martin, Lake Rufus Woods.

• Saltwater records: Dolphinfish (dorado), 16.27 pounds; Pacific Hake, 4.06 pounds; Opah, 28.18 pounds.


Tiger musky, 44 pounds 4 ounces, Edward Kalinowski, Little Payette Lake.

*Idaho’s largest rainbow was landed below Dworshak Dam, but the 28-pound, 9-ounce fish isn’t an official record. Nez Perce member Tui Moliga legally caught lunker under tribal rules. But N. Fork Clearwater was closed to nontribal harvest of rainbows over 20”, so it didn’t qualify for record status. 

2014 spring chinook forecast sees more fish

FISHING — The chart above, just released by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, is an early forecast for spring and summer chinook returning to the Columbia River next year.

The numbers suggest that almost twice as many spring chinook will return to the system to delight anglers in 2014 while the numbers of summer chinook bound for the upper Columbia could be slightly down.

The numbers will be updated several times over the coming months.

Time running out on Idaho fall chinook fishing

FISHING — Chinook salmon fishing will end in Idaho on the Snake and Clearwater rivers Thursday, Oct. 31 – except a short reach on the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam, which closes November 17.

The season opened Sept. 1, on the Snake River between Lewiston and Hells Canyon Dam, in the lower Clearwater River downstream of the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge in Lewiston, and in the Salmon River from its mouth upstream to Eye of the Needle Rapids.

The Snake River, from Cliff Mountain Rapids to Hells Canyon Dam, remains open until further notice or November 17.

The daily bag limit is six adult Chinook salmon, the possession limit is 18 adult Chinook and there is no fall season limit on adult Chinook. Only adipose-fin-clipped salmon may be kept.

Only adult Chinook must be recorded on the angler's salmon permit. There are no limits on jacks, but anglers must have a valid Idaho fishing license and salmon permit to fish for salmon.

This year, a record of around 55,000 adult fall hatchery-origin Chinook and about 21,500 jacks have crossed Lower Granite Dam, many of them returning to the Snake River above Lewiston. 

Fishing ends today on Yakima’s record fall chinook run

FISHING — It's been one heck of a ride for Yakima River fall chinook anglers.  Here's the latest report Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Paul Hoffarth as the Lower Yakima River season is scheduled to close today, Oct. 22:

The fall salmon fishery in the lower Yakima River is coming to a close. The last day of fishing is Tuesday, October 22, 2013.  WDFW staff interviewed 260 anglers between October 14th and 20th.  Anglers reported harvesting 102 adult Chinook, 4 jacks, and 1 coho.  An estimated 821 adult fall Chinook, 29 jacks, and 4 coho were harvested this past week from 1,961 angler trips.

For the season, 7,903 anglers trips have been taken and 2,478 adult Chinook, 342 chinook jacks, and 87 coho have been harvested.  This year’s harvest breaks the record of 2,300 fall Chinook set in 2002 when over 13,000 fall Chinook returned to the Yakima River.

Chinook catch rates still high at Hanford; fish quality lower

FISHING — The latest fall chinook creel report from the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River says the fishing pressure continues to decline but anglers still working the record salmon run were averaging an excellent 2.7 fish per boat.

However, with the season heading toward the Oct. 31 closure, the quality of the salmon is degrading as they ripen for spawning.  

Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist for the area said that, based on anecdotal information from anglers and creel surveyors, he'd say, “Roughly 20% are still edible, 20% are smokers, and 60% are more than ready to spawn.”

Here's Hoffarth's summary of the survey data for last week.

The number of boats on the water in the Hanford Reach continues to decline as the season nears the end.  The Columbia River between the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers and Priest Rapids Dam will close to fishing for salmon on October 22.  The river from the Hwy 395 bridge in Kennewick/Pasco upstream to the old Hanford townsite will remain open to fishing for salmon through October 31. 

There were an estimated 3,981 angler trips for salmon this past week.  Anglers averaged 2.7 Chinook per boat and 12 hours for each Chinook caught from the bank.

Staff interviewed anglers from 387 boats (941 boat anglers) and 215 bank anglers fishing for Chinook reporting a harvest of 1,074 adult Chinook and 60 jacks.  Harvest for the week was estimated at 4,009 adult Chinook and 224 Chinook jacks. 

For the season, 23,332 adult Chinook and 2,588 jacks have been harvested.  The adult harvest breaks the previous record of 13,102 adults harvested set last year.  There have been 37,062 angler trips for the fishery through October 20. The in-season run update for natural origin adult Hanford Reach fall Chinook returning to the Hanford Reach is 132,692 (updated Oct 15).

Idaho anglers getting their shot at fall chinook

FISHING — Through today, anglers have caught 267 marked adults and 161 jacks fall Chinook and caught and released 1,142 unmarked fish in the lower Clearwater River, accordnig to an Idaho Fish and Game Departmetnt creel report.

They caught and kept 861 adults and 671 jacks in the Snake River, for a total of 1,532 fish. Hatchery-origin fish are marked with a clipped adipose fin.

This year, almost 54,812 adult fall hatchery-origin Chinook and about 21,366 jacks crossed Lower Granite Dam, many of them returned to the Snake River above Lewiston. 

Salmon poisoning: Dog’s fishing trip ends with trip to veterinarian

FISHING — John and Gail Palumbo of Spokane have taken their dogs with them on salmon fishing trips to the Columbia for years, the the odds for their dogs contracting “salmon poisoning” caught up to them this week.

Writes Gail:

Want to thank you for the article on 9/29/13 about Salmon Poisoning in dogs. Fankly we had never heard of it. We go salmon fishing every year below the Priest Rapids dam. (I call it “Camping at the Rock.”) We have been going there for years and taking our dogs with.

We have two new young dogs this year and it was a first for both of them to come along.
We read your article and tried to keep the dogs away from the carcasses left on the beach when we were ashore.

Long story short: one of our young dogs (9 mos.) is at the vet now with Salmon Poisoning. We did not put 2 and 2 together about his symptoms until he was quite ill and took him into the vet. After blood tests they confirmed it.
We thought this would never happen to us.  All the years going fishing here and taking dogs and everyone else taking dogs, no dogs had ever gotten sick nor even heard of this poisoning.

Hanford Reach salmon effort thins, catch stays high

FISHING — Chinook salmon anglers are finding a little more elbow room on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River and anglers numbers declinced slightly last week, but the catch rates on the 2013 record run remain high.

Here's the report just received from Paul Hoffarth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife area fisheries biologist:

The number of boats on the water in the Hanford Reach dropped a bit this past week compared to the two weeks prior.  There were an estimated 5,123 angler trips for the week.  Anglers averaged 2.2 Chinook per boat and 20 hours for each Chinook caught from the bank.

Staff interviewed anglers from 572 boats (1,309 boat anglers) and 227 bank anglers fishing for Chinook reporting a harvest of 1,221 adult Chinook and 102 jacks.  Harvest for the week was estimated at 4,357 adult Chinook and 357 Chinook jacks. 

For the season, 19,313 adult Chinook and 2,365 jacks have been harvested.  The adult harvest breaks the previous record of 13,102 adults harvested set last year.  There have been 33,081 angler trips for the fishery through October 13. The in-season run update for natural origin adult Hanford Reach fall Chinook returning to the Hanford Reach is 136,902 (updated Oct 7).

Yakima River fishing for chinooks hasn't been bad, either.  Says Hoffarth:

WDFW staff interviewed 185 anglers between October 7th and 13th.  Anglers reported harvesting 86 adult Chinook, 14 jacks, and 7 coho.  An estimated 662 adult fall Chinook, 148 jacks, and 76 coho were harvested this past week from 1,657 angler trips.  Anglers averaged 1 salmon for every 4.4 hours fished.

For the season, 5,942 anglers trips have been taken and 995 adult Chinook, 313 chinook jacks, and 83 coho have been harvested.

Update on fall chinook salmon record run

FISHING — Although steelhead fishing has opened in the Ringold area of the Columbia River's Hanford Reach, most angling pressure has been focused on the record run of chinook salmon packing into the area.

Anglers last week AVERAGED 2.5 chinooks per boat as they set sportfishing records for chinook caught in the free-flowing stretch between the Tri Cities and Priest Rapids Dam.  Awesome.

The chinooks also are setting records on the Snake River.

The total count at Bonneville Dam this year through Monday is 904,855 adult fall chinook, already far beyond the previous seasonal record count of 610,244 set in 2003. Bonneville is the first hydro project the fish encounter on their way upstream to the mid-Columbia and the Snake River. 
The count as of Monday at Lower Granite on the Snake River was 52,277, well past the previous record of 41,815 set in 2010. Fish continue to move over Lower Granite at the rate of 400-500 a day.
The Snake River fish pass over four Columbia River dams before turning into the Snake. Lower Granite is the last of four passable dams on the lower Snake before the fish head into the Lewiston-Clarkston area, the Clearwater and up the Snake farther to the Salmon River.
The counts at the lower Snake River’s Lower Granite Dam include wild Snake River fall chinook that are listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

Hanford Reach anglers catch record number of fall chinook

SALMON FISHING — The 2013 record run of chinook salmon that's stampeding up the Columbia River is making history, and so are anglers.

Sport fishermen caught a record number of chinook in the lower Columbia when the run was peaking there.

Now Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife creel surveys have confirmed that anglers alrealdy have set a record for the catch in the Hanford Reach, where they averaged a whopping 2.5 kings per boat last week.

And the season doesn't close until Oct. 22 in that stretch of river.

Here's the report just received from Paul Hoffarth, WDFW fisheries biologist in the Tri Cities.

Angler effort remained strong this past week with an estimated 7,714 angler trips for the week.  Anglers averaged 2.5 Chinook per boat.

Staff interviewed anglers from 477 boats (1,191 boat anglers) and 382 bank anglers fishing for Chinook reporting a harvest of 1,099 adult Chinook and 107 jacks.  Harvest for the week was estimated at 6,531 adult Chinook and 651 Chinook jacks. 

For the season, 14,967 adult Chinook and 2,014 jacks have been harvested.  The adult harvest breaks the previous record of 13,102 adults harvested set last year.  There have been 27,958 angler trips for the fishery through October 6.

The in-season run update for natural origin adult Hanford Reach fall Chinook returning to the Hanford Reach is 181,137 (updated Oct 1).

Landers verifies Columbia River’s record run of chinook salmon

FISHING — Four people, including me, reeled 13 chinook salmon to the boat today in the Hanford Reach and got eight of them INTO the boat.

That's a good indication that the record run of chinook salmon heading up the Columbia and Snake Rivers is the real deal.

We were fishing with Toby Wyatt and Jim Havener of Reel Time Fishing on Wyatt's 27-foot boat, which he built with his dad in Clarkston.

Fishing: Chinook, steelhead surge in Snake River

FISHING — Oh, what a difference a little rain and cooler water temperatures have made to erase the thermal barrier that had been keeping steelhead and chinook salmon from progressing up the Snake River.

Graphs show the surge of each species booming up over Lower Granite Dam in the past few days en route to the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon river fisheries in Idaho.

Fish on!

It’s official: Columbia chinook run largest in 75 years

SALMON FISHING — The 2013 fall chinook salmon run heading up the Columbia has been setting daily records for the past 10 days, and today it surpassed the overall record for the biggest run of salmon or steelhead to head upstream since counting began at Bonneville Dam in 1938.

By 1 p.m. today the fall chinook run had eclipsed the record of 610,700 fish counted in 2003, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists say.

And more chinook are still coming, headed for the Hanford Reach, upper Columbia, Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers.

On Tuesday, regional fish managers predicted the run could go as high as 835,000 adult chinook.

Record-breaking chinook run prompts season changes

SALMON FISHING — With more upriver fall chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River than any time in the past 75 years, Washington and Oregon fishery managers are expanding sport fishing options below Bonneville Dam beginning Friday, Sept. 13.

“This will be a fishing season to remember,” said Guy Norman, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife southwest regional director. “This year’s run of upriver fall chinook is through the roof, and a positive sign that regional efforts to rebuild this salmon population are making a difference.”

About 92,000 fall chinook have already crossed McNary Dam south of the Tri-Cities and 26,000 have been counted at Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River.

Read on for the details on the lower Columbia rule change announced this afternoon:

Fall chinook run smashing all records on Columbia

SALMON FISHING — It's not a run of fall chinook coming up the Columbia River this season, it's a stampede.

On Tuesday, regional fish managers upped their forecast for this year's fall chinook returns to 835,000 adult upriver brights reaching Bonneville Dam, which would smash the record of 610,436 set in 2003.

The count over Bonneville Dam Wednesday night totaled 573,567 with 42,506 fish coming up on Wednesday alone. That's the sixth highest single-day count since record-keeping started in 1938, and it's probably the DOWNSIDE of the run's peak.

This year's run set three single-day record numbers over Bonneville Dam in the past week, peaking with 63,870 on Monday.

“It’s a string that is mind-boggling, historic — Chin-pocalypse in the words of one angler who stands to reap the benefits, king-ageddon,” exclaims Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine. “It’s not just the Columbia. There are signs that Puget Sound pink salmon were hugely underforecast, and the Oregon and California Coasts’ Chinook season was bonkers.”

The largest percentage of the upriver chinooks crossing Bonneville Dam is headed for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia as well as to the Snake, Clearwater and Salmon rivers in Idaho.

I'll make the easy forecast and predict that thousands of anglers will be there to greet them this season.

Steelhead forecasts

Columbia-Snake fish managers adjusted the forecast for A-run steelhead to 205,000 fish, including 86,000 wild steelhead.  That's an increase from the previous week's forecast, but still below the preseason forecast of 291,000.  The A-run fish provide the fisheries for Snake River tributaries including the Grande Ronde as well as the Upper Columbia and tributaries.

The size of the B-run steelhead bound mostly for Idaho's Clearwater River has not been updated, yet, but it continues to track behind expectations.

Surge of fall chinook smashes daily record over Bonneville Dam

UPDATED at 11:35 a.m.

SALMON FISHING — In case you haven't been paying attention, a huge run of fall chinook is heading up the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

If you need more evidence, here it is:  63,870 adult fall chinook were counted at Bonneville Dam Monday, smashing the record of 48,710 set just last Saturday.  

The record before that was 45,884 fish on Sept. 11, 2003. 

“As far as I can tell going back through the annual counts since 1938, the 63,870 adult chinook counted yesterday at Bonneville Dam may be a RECORD DAILY COUNT FOR ALL SALMONIDS, not just fall chinook,” said Joe Hymper, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist in Vancouver. 

“The 475,000 adult fall chinook counted at Bonneville Dam to date is the 3rd highest on record for the entire run (August through December).  Only 2003 (610,000) and 2004 (584,000) are larger.”  

Watch today’s parade of fish.

They'll be showing up on the hooks of anglers in the Handford Reach of the Columbia and the Clearwater River in Idaho soon.

Chinook run stalls at Lower Granite

FISHING — An unusually lengthy warm season in the interior Columbia Basin, combined with low water volumes, has apparently given, first sockeye salmon and then fall chinook salmon, reason to pause before they jump an eighth and final hydro hurdle — the lower Snake River’s Lower Granite Dam— on their spawning journey.

Read a detailed update on the sistuation from the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

In a nutshell, if you don't hold the dam at fault, it's the weather's fault.

Fall chinook stampeding up Columbia system

SALMON FISHING — The huge run of fall chinook forecast for the Columbia and Snake rivers got a booming start last week.

In a three-day stretch last week, nearly 85,000 fall chinook moved up over Bonneville, with almost 34,000 of those coming up river on Friday tapering to a rush of 27,000 on Monday.

Steelhead and coho also are in the mix, boosting the counts of quality fishing potential even higher.

Fishing writer Rob Phillips says anglers already have been nailing these fish at the mouth of the Klickitat and the mouth of the Deschutes rivers.

The bulk of the fishery is headed for the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, but Phillips details other hot spots up through the Tri-Cities in the upper Columbia in his Yakima Herald—Republic column.