February 17, 2011

Forecast looks good for Chinook salmon season

By Ed Mitchell, IDFG

   It's not expected to be as good as last year, but the 2011 Chinook salmon return is on track to be the sixth best year since 1980. The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but the forecast for numbers of returning fish are similar to 2008 and 2009.

   Northwest fish managers estimate that about 198,400 Chinook bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia River this year - last year the number was 315,300.

   Of those, 66,400 hatchery fish and 24,700 wild fish are predicted to head up the Snake River to Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Last year's actual return was 134,300 hatchery fish and 35,600 wild fish.

   Idaho fish managers estimate that 32,470 of the hatchery fish that cross Lower Granite Dam are bound for Idaho waters.

   Last year, more than 38,000 returned to Salmon River hatcheries and more than 13,000 returned to Clearwater hatcheries.

   It's too soon to tell just how many fish will actually show up, and what any fishing seasons might look like. Idaho fisheries managers expect to present proposed Chinook fishing seasons in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to the Fish and Game Commission in March.

   In years past, Chinook seasons have opened in late April.

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