The Spring Chinook forecast for the Columbia River’s 2016 season shows some potential for success.
A report by The Columbian explains that 2016’s Spring Chinook forecast is,
“Not great, but not bad.”
State, federal and tribal biologists forecast that 188,800 spring chinook salmon will enter the Columbia River in 2016 headed upstream of Bonneville Dam. The number is significantly less that 2015’s return, and the forecast for 93,300 summer chinook is also below 2015’s return of 126,900.
However, spring chinook returns are difficult to accurately predict, and even greater numbers don’t guarantee more productive fishing.
Stuart Ellis, chair of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission technical committee, said in The Columbian that,
“We’re confident it’s a reasonable number. There is some concern about ocean conditions.’’
124,800 spring chinook are forecast for the Snake River basin, 37,000 for the mid-Columbia tributaries and 27,000 for the upper Columbia.
188,800 spring chinook would fall into the mean for the past decade of returning numbers. Since 2005, six of those returning numbers were greater and five were lesser.
In 2015, lower Columbia anglers harvested 19,586 adult spring chinook and released 5,052 out of 151,173 trips.
The forecast of 93,300 summer chinook exceeds 2015’s forecast of 73,000. The actual number of returning summer chinook was 126,900 in 2015.
Lower Columbia River anglers caught a record high 5,928 adult summer chinook and released 1,491 out of 50,555 trips.
Managers on the Willamette River are forecasting just over 70,000 spring chinook in 2016. 57,500 of those are forecast to be fin-clipped adults. 87,100 spring chinook returned to the Willamette in 2015.
The forecast for the 2016 Cowlitz and Kalama River spring chinook fishery looks promising.
The Cowlitz forecast of 25,100 returning spring chinook has potential to be one of the best returns in 35 years according to Northwest Sportsman Magazine’s blog‘s interview with Joe Hymer, a WDFW supervising fisheries biologist who says,
“In our database, which starts in 1980, only 1981 is larger at 27,921 adults.”
The 2016 Kalama spring chinook fishery also shows promise with a forecast of 4,900 spring chinook. The actual 2015 returns and 2016 forecast numbers are the highest in 13 years.