LEWISTON – A surge of spring chinook passing Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River last week has boosted the projected number of salmon available to Idaho anglers.
Between April 23 and Wednesday, 17,381 adult spring chinook were counted climbing the dam’s fish ladders. That includes more than 6,500 that were counted on Tuesday alone.
So far this spring, 21,659 spring chinook have been counted at Bonneville Dam. That is on pace with the 10-year average of 21,792, and the highest number recorded since 2015 when more than 96,8000 were counted during the same March 15 to April 27 time frame.
Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, reported in his weekly run update that an estimated 3,753 chinook bound for the Clearwater River hatcheries and 2,281 bound for Rapid River hatchery have passed Bonneville Dam. Using those numbers, the agency projects as many as 20,272 Clearwater-bound fish and 11,191 Rapid River-bound fish could eventually pass the dam.
A run of that size would result in a harvest share of more than 5,000 adult fish on the Clearwater River and about 3,000 for the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. But those are just projections.
“I wouldn’t get too excited or depressed about the harvest shares presented above as we are early in the run and things can change quickly,” said DuPont, referencing a table in his report which is available at bit.ly/3vmZ9PN.
The preseason forecast called for a Clearwater River harvest share of about 2,500 adult hatchery chinook and a harvest share of 3,600 on the Rapid River run.
Numbers recorded at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River have been tame. Through Wednesday, a total of 159 adult chinook had been counted at the dam. Dupont said it may take the fish that passed Bonneville Dam this week about two weeks to reach Idaho and the lower Clearwater River and another week to 10 days for those bound for the lower Salmon River to arrive there.
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