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Ecology and salmon related articles

Spring Chinook Return
Still Middling

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, May 7, 2021

Counts through Wednesday at half of the 10-year average

In retrospect, the number of returning adult salmon was relatively level from 1938 through 1990.  The precipitous loss of returning chinook entering the Snake River (Figure 20) accounts for a major share of the decline that has occurred in total return to the Columbia -- Artificial Production Review, NW Power & Conservation Council The number of spring chinook salmon passing Bonneville Dam briefly spiked late last week but then leveled off.

On both Thursday and Friday, more than 4,500 adult fish were counted in the dam's fish ladder. In an update on Idaho's spring chinook salmon season, Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, called the spike great, but noted counts needed to stay at that level for several days to make a big difference in the number of fish expected to return to the Salmon and Clearwater rivers.

Since Saturday, counts at the dam have averaged 2,337 per day.

"The key is, we need sustained counts over 5,000 fish (10 or more days' worth) to really make a difference," DuPont wrote in his update issued Tuesday. "What we saw last week is a step in the right direction, but we need counts to bounce back up and stay up before we can start providing some meaningful fisheries."

Through Wednesday, just shy of 30,000 adult spring chinook had been counted at the dam. The 10-year average is just more than 60,000.

The spike showed preseason harvest share predictions for the four-day-a-week fishery on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and the daily fishery below Hells Canyon Dam on the Snake River appear on track. It also helped boost what was looking like a return to Clearwater River hatcheries that would be well short of spawning goals, also known as broodstock. The latest prediction calls for the hatcheries to barely meet brood.

Both of those predictions were based on counts through the weekend. The harvest share for fisheries and the expected return to Clearwater hatcheries are both likely to change as the size and timing of the run become more clear in the coming days and weeks.

DuPont said it's possible anglers may may start to catch fish this week, but he said fishing likely will be better next week as more fish arrive. One adult salmon was trapped at Rapid River Hatchery last week.

Eric Barker
Spring Chinook Return Still Middling
Lewiston Tribune, May 7, 2021

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