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Ecology and salmon related articles

State Fisheries Checks Show Plenty
of Fishing Choices on Columbia River

by Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times, June 7, 2016

Columbia River fishing for Sockeye near Brewster. (Dave Graybill Photo) SALMON AND STEELHEAD

The Technical Advisory Committee met today and maintained the adult spring chinook run size projection at the river mouth of 184,000 fish. The preseason forecast was 188,800 adults. The spring management period continues through June 15.

The 2016 forecast for upper Columbia summer Chinook is 93,300 adults to the Columbia River mouth. The overall return is expected to include 47,100 Age-4 and 42,600 Age-5 fish. If accurate, this projection would represent the 2nd highest return since 1980 and 132% of the average return observed over the past decade.

The 2016 forecast for the Columbia River sockeye run is for a return of 101,600 adults to the Columbia River which includes 57,800 Wenatchee, 41,700 Okanogan, and 2,100 Snake River stock. The forecast is 35% the 2006--2015 average return of 290,200 fish. The Wenatchee component is forecasted to be greater than the escapement objective of 23,000 fish, and similar to the 10-year average return of 48,400. The Okanogan component, which has shown an impressive increase in run strength since 2008, is expected to be much less than the recent 10-yr average of 240,500 fish. Although the Snake River component represents a small proportion of the total run, a return of 2,100 fish would be 158% of the recent 10-year average return. Minor returns to the Yakima and Deschutes rivers are also expected.

River conditions in the Columbia River and its tributaries had a negative effect on the successful migration of sockeye in 2015. Water temperatures were much higher than average during June and July which proved to be detrimental to a good portion of sockeye returning. Sockeye were reported in Columbia River tributaries where normally they would rarely be found. These fish were thought to dip-in to seek cool water refuge. The eventual upriver migration, and final fate, of these dip-in fish is unknown. Upriver passage of sockeye from one hydro-facility to another was also abnormal. Sockeye passage totaled over 510,000 fish at Bonneville Dam, but less than 280,000 at McNary Dam (140 miles upriver). The Fish Passage Center estimated that the Snake River adult sockeye survival from Bonneville Dam to Lower Granite Dam was 4% (compared to a range of 44% -- 77% from 2009 to 2014) and the survival of Upper Columbia adult sockeye from Bonneville Dam to Rock Island Dam was 46% (compared to a range of 59% -- 80% from 2009--2014).

Cowlitz River -- Bank anglers at the barrier dam are catching some spring Chinook as are boat anglers catching in the lower river. Some summer run steelhead are also being caught. Effective June 16, bank anglers may fish the south side of the river from Mill Creek to 400 feet or the posted markers below the barrier dam.

Last week Tacoma Power employees recovered 333 spring Chinook adults, 137 jacks, three winter-run steelhead adults and 91 summer-run steelhead adults during four days of operations at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the past week, Tacoma Power employees released 105 spring Chinook adults, 79 spring Chinook jacks and one winter-run steelhead into Lake Scanewa located above Cowlitz Falls Dam, 54 spring Chinook adults and 24 jacks into the Cispus River upstream of the mouth of Yellow Jacket Creek near Randle, and 60 spring Chinook adults and 22 spring Chinook jacks at Franklin Bridge in Packwood.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 5,160 cubic feet per second on Monday, June 6. Visibility is ten feet.

Kalama River -- Producing some spring Chinook and steelhead though not in great numbers based upon the creel checks which randomly occur throughout the day.

East Fork Lewis River -- Light effort and catch. Bait may now be used.

Wind River -- Spring Chinook are still moving through the lower river. The Carson Hatchery broodstock count now stands at 1,019 fish; the goal is 1,500.

Drano Lake -- Light effort and catch.

Yakima River -- To date 3,852 adult spring chinook and 639 jacks have been counted passing upstream through the Prosser fish ladders. Only 29% of the adult return has been hatchery origin to date. Daily passage through the Prosser fish ladders dropped to below 100 chinook per day on average. Flows in the lower Yakima River averaged 2,503cfs, range 2,050 -- 3,290cfs.

WDFW staff interviewed 142 anglers fishing in the lower Yakima River (Prosser to Richland) this past week; 3 salmon anglers were interviewed with no fish harvested. To date this season an estimated 10 wild jacks were released and 4 hatchery jacks have been harvested. No adult chinook have been caught this season.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam -- During the Friday-Monday adult Chinook and steelhead season from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line we sampled 669 salmonid anglers (including 137 boats) with 56 adult and 3 jack spring Chinook and 59 steelhead. 32 (57%) of the adult Chinook were kept. 79% of the fish sampled were upriver stock based on Visual Stock Identification.

51 (86%) of the steelhead were kept. Several fish in the 13-14 pound range were observed. In addition, a few sockeye are being released.

Mainstem Columbia from Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Pasco -- Effective June 16 through July 31, the salmonid daily limit will be 6 fish of which no more than 2 may be adult salmon or hatchery steelhead or one of each. Up to 2 of the adults may be hatchery adult Chinook or sockeye. Release all wild Chinook.

. . .

Mark Yuasa
State Fisheries Checks Show Plenty of Fishing Choices on Columbia River
Seattle Times, June 7, 2016

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