If the chinook salmon returns for 2014 hold up to the early forecast, anglers could anticipate fisheries similar to those opened in 2008 and 2009. In those years, fisheries were opened in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon, Little Salmon, South Fork Salmon and upper Salmon rivers.
“The forecast suggests a return that’s larger than last year,” Idaho Department of Fish and Game anadromous fish manager Pete Hassemer told the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday, Jan. 16.
“The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but the forecast for numbers of returning hatchery fish that anglers can harvest are similar to 2008 and 2009,” he said.
Northwest fish managers estimate that more than 227,000 spring chinook salmon bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia River this year. Last year’s forecast called for 141,400, and the actual return was about 123,000.
Of the fish predicted at the Columbia River mouth this month, 83,000 hatchery fish and 42,000 wild fish are predicted to be headed for the Snake River. Last year’s actual return to the Columbia River mouth was 45,400 hatchery and 21,900 wild fish destined for the Snake River. Idaho fish managers estimate that 39,900 hatchery fish destined for Idaho’s Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers will cross Lower Granite Dam. Last year, only about 25,500 hatchery spring and summer chinook salmon returned to the same Idaho waters.
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.