22 hours ago
Friday, December 18, 2009
Spring Chinook for 2010
Although the Columbia River fishery managers expect the largest run of Spring Chinook in the 70 years of counting fish for 2010. I am very skeptical regarding this information. This estimate does not include Lower Columbia River stocks or Willamette basin fish. When these numbers are added to the already 470K fish that expected to cross over Bonneville Dam, the run will be huge. As a pessimistic steelheader who has watched the runs decline on all my local rivers over the last decade, I have a hard time believing this. Many of my local spring chinook fisheries were closed early last year because of poor returns. However with these numbers estimated at four times the return seen over Bonneville Dam in 2009, I hope I am wrong. Maybe the ocean conditions that brought a healthy return of summer steelhead and Coho Salmon in the Columbia River in 2009 is a sign of a new trend in ocean conditions. Then again the drastic fall in Fall Chinook on the Northern Oregon Coast and Washington Coast lead me to think otherwise.
Chinook returns are based on jack counts from the previous season. Jack salmon are two to three salt fish that return early and are not sexually mature fish. The Spring Chinook jack counts over Bonneville Dam for 2009 was over 66K in 2009 leading to believe that there is good ocean survival for this years return. However this relationship does not always carry weight as seen in the returns in 2007 and 2008 where there very large jack counts seen did not lead to large returns of fish. Lets hope the genetic alternations of hatchery fish over decades have not changed the genetic makeup of these fish and we are not seeing a new trend of mini chinook. But hey, I am not a fisheries expert and hope my pessimistic thought is wrong. Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope to swing one up this spring.
Read more about the 2010 Spring Chinook returns courtesy of Oregon Live and the Columbia River Bulletin.