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Ecology and salmon related articles

Run Timing Critical Factor
in Spring Chinook Season

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, May 3, 2019

Idaho fisheries manager says salmon numbers are starting to pick up

Graphic: River temperatures in 2017 on the Columbia and Snake Rivers were again too high for salmon and steelhead adults migrating upstream to their natal spawning grounds. Spring chinook appear to be running late again this year, according to Joe DuPont, regional fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston.

How late the run is will ultimately determine whether the fish meet preseason forecasts. DuPont said the run appears to be lagging about two weeks behind and perhaps aligning with runs over the past three years.

If that is the case, he said there is still a good chance enough chinook will return to provide for ongoing fishing seasons on the Clearwater River and its tributaries and on the Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. But if the run is merely late based on a longer-term average, fishing may be cut short.

"We obviously are hoping the run timing will be similar to what we have seen in the last three years; otherwise, we may not be able to keep all our fisheries open," DuPont said.

There are some signs the run is aligning with the run timing of the past few years. For example, DuPont said jack chinook have just started to show up at Bonneville Dam, and summer chinook have yet to make an appearance there. Jacks and summer chinook typically lag behind the bulk of the adult spring chinook run.

"The jacks are just starting to show up. That is also an indicator the run is really late," DuPont said. "If you look at when jacks first start showing up in the 10-year average and when they are showing up now, it might suggest they are about two weeks late."

The run, as measured at Bonneville Dam, has started to pick up. On Tuesday, more than 1,360 adult chinook were counted passing the dam, the first time this year daily counts there have exceeded 1,000. Through Tuesday, the total number of adult chinook counted at the dam for the season is just 4,705. The 10-year average is more than 50,500.

At Lower Granite Dam, 10 chinook have been counted for the season, compared to a 10-year average of more than 2,500.

Chinook fishing is allowed on parts of the Clearwater River and its tributaries on Saturdays and Sundays only. The lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers are open Thursdays through Sundays. More information on the seasons, areas of river open and bag limits is available" target=_blank>here.

Related Pages:
Fisheries Managers Forecast 'Unprecedentedly Low' Summer Steelhead by George Plaven, East Oregonian, 5/22/17

Eric Barker
Run Timing Critical Factor in Spring Chinook Season
Lewiston Tribune, May 3, 2019

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