CLACKAMAS Ore.– Spring chinook sportfishing on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam is projected to continue through April 22 as planned, based on preliminary in-season catch estimates updated this week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The estimate shows that through April 11 anglers caught (kept and released combined) a total of 14,200 spring chinook, compared to a preseason estimate of 15,400 fish through the same date.
“So far the spring chinook catch is tracking very closely with what we expected,” said Chris Kern, assistant fisheries manager for ODFW’s Ocean Salmon and Columbia River Program.
Fishery managers are projecting that by season’s end Columbia River salmon anglers will have caught a total of at least 22,100 spring chinook, which would be 95 percent or more of the quota available prior to a run update. Quotas are based on impact limits established to protect salmon listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The average catch rate this year is about the same as most years over the past decade, with about one fishing trip in eight producing a spring chinook. That is down from last year’s record catch rate of one chinook for about every five trips.
Since the beginning of the season anglers have made a total of 111,000 trips. ODFW is projecting that by the end of the season effort will exceed 141,000 trips, which represents a 37 percent increase over 2008. On April 4, ODFW survey crews counted 3,275 boats on the river, which broke the existing record of 3,260 boats counted on April 14, 2001.
So far, the run of spring chinook to Bonneville Dam appears to be running late, which has become common in recent years. In February fishery managers set the season based on a preseason run forecast of 300,000 upriver spring chinook, but reserved some of the allowable catch until after the run size can be updated. As of April 13, 1,186 spring chinook had passed through the ladders at Bonneville Dam, compared to 5,600 during the same period in 2008.
Kern noted that a reliable run update likely won’t be available until the first or second week in May. In the meantime, biologists expect fish to start crossing the dam in increasing numbers this week.
The spring chinook season is currently scheduled to be open on the Columbia below the Hayden Island power lines April 16-18. From the Hayden Island power lines to Bonneville, the season is scheduled to be open April 15-18 and again on Wednesday, April 22. Spring chinook fishing is currently scheduled to continue on the Willamette Thursday, Friday and Saturday through April 30.