Tuesday, May 16, 2017

2017 Columbia River Spring Chinook Run

Cowlitz River 2017 Spring Chinook

The 2017 Columbia River Spring Chinook run was originally estimated to be 160,400 fish which would have been in line with the 10 year average and the normal fishing seasons were set, included snake river fisheries, as fisheries managers expected escapement levels to be high enough to allow commercial, tribal and recreational fisheries.

As of May 16th, 2017 the 160,400 pre-season forecast has been slashed to only 83,000.  That is about half of the original forecast and resulted in the closing of the snake river recreational fisheries.  

There has been a lot of talk this season about why the Spring Chinook catches were low.  First the Columbia River was flooded during the most popular time to fish the Columbia Portland fishery from March 15th through the 2nd Saturday in April.  Catch rates were so low that fisheries managers re-opened the lower Columbia Spring Chinook Fishery 2 times!  They opened the river for sport fisherman to catch their quota on the lower river based on the higher 160,400 pre-season forecast.  

The fisheries managers conducted 'test fisheries' where they used nets to fish in the lower columbia river for king salmon to see if there were any spring chinook hanging out in the lower river.  The managers assured everyone that the fish were there and they just weren't moving upriver to where people were trying to catch them.

Then the water flows coming out of the Bonneville Dam got really high.  Historically high water flows, fisheries managers suggested, were keeping the 2017 Columbia River Spring Chinook from heading upstream through the fish passage gates and over Bonneville Dam.

We've been checking the Bonneville Dam Fish Counts DAILY, every morning pressing the refresh button over and over waiting for the thousands of fish we've been expecting to show up.  With over or near a thousand fish a day going over the dam as of May 16th it appears that the fish could all straggle in, but it's probably not very likely.

Lucky for us the Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers have been fair to good for the 2017 spring season so far and we are grateful that we are catching fish.

Hopefully more fish show up and fisheries managers can target the cause of the super low Columbia run and do something to fix it.

To book a fishing trip for Cowlitz Spring Chinook, Summer Sockeye or Buoy 10 King Salmon HERE IS YOUR LINK  Call/txt: 253-389-0359

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