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Fishers This Week Take Aim at Fall Chinook Run

by Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - September 1, 2000

Both Buoy 10 sport anglers and tribal fishers got back on the water this week to pursue what the law will allow of a fall chinook salmon run expected to number nearly 330,000 fish.

The overall harvest or "take" is limited by concerns for Endangered Species Act listed fish, particularly threatened Snake River fall chinook. The National Marines Fisheries Services has determined that the overall take of upriver fall chinook, those that spawn above Bonneville Dam, cannot exceed 31.29 percent. The Snake River fall chinook migrate upstream alongside unlisted fish.

The states of Washington and Oregon and lower Columbia treaty tribes agreed earlier this summer on an apportionment of the upriver bright fall chinook run that gives the states 8.25 percent and the tribes 23.09 percent of NMFS' allowed incidental take on the upriver fish, which make up two-thirds of the fall chinook run. The states decide how to distribute their share of the incoming salmon runs between sport and commercial fishers.

For sportsmen the popular Buoy 10 fishery at the mouth of the Columbia has been an on and off affair. The Buoy 10 season for fall chinook, coho and steelhead opened Aug. 1, but chinook retention was prohibited after Aug. 27 because fishery officials feared the catch would approach 9,000-fish quota set for the fishery. A reassessment early this week showed there are enough chinook salmon left on the quota to re-open the fishery to chinook effective today, Sept. 1.

The fishery continued for adipose fin-clipped hatchery coho and steelhead. Hatchery coho fishing has been good, managers report, with anglers averaging almost one coho per angler. More than 400,000 adipose fin-clipped coho are predicted to return to the Columbia River this year.

The chinook catch last weekend was far less than expected and 3,000 chinook remain on the quota. Although managers believe the 3,000 chinook remaining will allow fishing for chinook all through September, they will be checking catch numbers Sept. 6. All other regulations remain unchanged in the area of Buoy 10 upstream to the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line, including the daily bag limit of two salmon of which only one can be a chinook salmon.

Chinook fishing in the mainstem Columbia above Tongue Point is expected to continue to improve next week as the fish move upstream. Good chinook catches are already occurring in many areas between Tongue Point and Bonneville Dam, according to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release.

Meanwhile, the treaty commercial salmon season opened Wednesday and will continue for three or four days per week until sometime in mid-September. The fishery occurs in the mainstem Columbia River from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam.

Fishers from the Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce and Warm Springs tribes will be selling salmon directly to the public from roadside locations from Cascade Locks to Umatilla Tuesdays through Sundays through the second weekend in September, according to the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. In Washington, Tri-Cities, sales at Columbia Point are limited to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"Selling salmon directly to the non-Indian public is a tradition that goes back at least as far as Lewis and Clark's expedition through our areas," said Jon Matthews, salmon marketing project director.

"Today the purpose of the direct-to-the-public sales of salmon is to allow families to increase their income from fishing to help them through the many months when there is no longer any fishing," said Matthews, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe.

People purchasing fish should bring coolers to ice down their fish and request a written receipt from the fishermen. Regulations require individuals purchasing fish to possess a written document listing fisherman's name, purchaser's name, number of fish, location, and date.

Oregon and Washington biologists will be in the selling area and may request permission to sample purchased fish to collect biological data such as species, average weight and presence of tags. This data is needed by state and tribal staffs to effectively manage the fishery. Specifically, the amount that may be caught, dates and places of fishing, and estimates of various stocks of salmonids in the catch. Biologists can also answer questions and direct the public to places to purchase fish.

During the fall fishery, fishers may be selling bright fall chinook, the less desirable tule fall chinook, steelhead, coho, walleye and shad.

Customers may call toll-free, 1-888-289-1855, for directions to some of the major sale sites and to confirm sales dates. For more information, visit CRITFC's web site,

On Saturday, Sept. 2, the annual Salmon Splash! Will be held at Cascade Locks' Marine Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with Indian dances, demonstrations of traditional salmon preparation and other activities.

The tribes and the Oregon-Washington Columbia River Compact will consider setting additional commercial fishing seasons on Sept. 8.

Preseason forecasts pegged overall fall chinook salmon numbers to be up from last year's 313,100 total. The Technical Advisory Committee predicts 328,900 fall chinook adults will enter the mouth of the Columbia this year, according to a joint staff report prepared by Oregon and Washington fisheries officials in July. TAC is made up of biologists from state and federal fish management agencies and Columbia River treaty tribes. The technical group was formed by agreement of the parties to U.S. v. Oregon.

The upriver bright fall chinook run, largely wild fish bound for the Columbia's Hanford Reach, are expected to total 208,200 -- the highest return since 1989. The total upriver bright return in 1999 was 166,100. The record return was 420,600 in 1987, according to the staff report.

The Snake River wild component, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is expected to number 1,764 -- down from 1999's 2,739 total but near the recent 10-year average. All of the forecasts will be reassessed as the season progresses.

Numbers of returning Bonneville pool hatchery fish or tules are expected to drop from last year's return of 50,200 to about 26,900 this year. The expected return this year is similar to the recent 10-year average, according to the staff report.

Anticipated 2000 returns of lower river hatchery (26,400) and wild (2,700) fall chinook would be record low returns.

The anticipated upriver summer steelhead return, 254,000, is above the 10-year average and last year's return, 205,700. The projections are 210,000 for the A-run (as compared to 176,400 last year) and 33,800 for the B-run steelhead (compared to 22,100 in 1999). Those numbers include wild and hatchery fish.

The wild, threatened B-run component is forecast to rebound with 11,000 returns this year compared to 3,700 last year, the second lowest total on record. The B run is largely bound for the Clearwater and Salmon rivers in Idaho.

The group A wild, listed run is forecast at 52,700, down from 1999's 56,600 return. The 1999 count was the largest since 1991. They are headed to tributaries throughout the basin.

by Staff
Fishers This Week Take Aim at Fall Chinook Run
Columbia Basin Bulletin, September 1, 2000

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