Clackamas, Ore.—Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife released the 2008 spring chinook forecast Dec. 11 for the Columbia and Willamette Rivers during a meeting of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. Based on projections by staff biologists and the Technical Advisory Committee the report offers recreational and commercial fisherman a first look at what to expect this spring.
It can be accessed on ODFW’s website by clicking the link below:
Columbia River Fisheries
2008 Columbia River spring chinook
The Columbia River is expecting a very healthy upriver spring chinook run, projected to be 269,300 fish. This would be the largest return since 2002, the third highest in over 25 years.
2008 Willamette River spring chinook
The 2008 Willamette River run is expected to be around 34,000 fish to the mouth of the Columbia, which would be the lowest return since 1997. Biologists anticipate that about 15% or 5,100 of these will be wild fish. The 34,000 estimate includes adults and jacks destined for both the Clackamas River and tributaries above Willamette Falls.
2007 Willamette statistics
The 2007 Willamette spring chinook run of 40,500 fish was 12,000 fish less than preseason expectations; it was composed of 500 age 3 jacks and 14,200 age 4, 24,700 age 5, and 1,100 age 6 fish.
The wild fish return in 2007 was nearly double the expected rate, with a total of nearly 10,000 wild fish compared to the expected 5,000. Returns to the Clackamas River system also represented a larger component of the total Willamette run, with nearly 20% of the total Willamette run entering the Clackamas River system.
Managing diverse fisheries
The Willamette and Columbia forecasts present a unique situation for fisheries management in 2008. If both forecasts are accurate, 2008 will mark the only time in recent years in which the expected Willamette run is weak and the expected Columbia River run is strong.
This situation will create unique demands on fishery management strategies for the coming year, as managers attempt to provide opportunities to harvest abundant upper Columbia River hatchery fish while protecting a poor Willamette return. The forecasted return to the Willamette will require managers to implement conservative fisheries to meet ESA objectives for the Willamette spring chinook population and to meet hatchery broodstock needs. Planning and season structures for 2008 spring chinook fisheries in the Willamette and Columbia rivers are still under development.