Mark Yuasa’s NW Fishing blog in the Seattle Times is a great way to keep tabs on where salmon are being caught in Washington. Yesterday he pointed out that 2011 returns are expected to be moderate and that the spring chinook runs peak in March/April for the Lower Columbia. Is L pod working these schools on the continental shelf?
The Upper Columbia spring chinook return forecast of 198,400 fish is the sixth largest since 1979. It is well under last year’s forecast of 470,000 (315,345 was actual return). The largest return was 437,900 in 2001, and the 10-year average is 219,000.
The good news for the 2011 return is quite a few larger-sized 5-year-old fish, about 40,000 of them, are expected. The bulk of the annual returns are comprised of 4-year-old fish.
Another popular spring chinook fishery on the Oregon side of the Columbia is the Willamette River, where a forecast of about 104,000 (62,400 are expected to be brawny five-year-olds) is expected, compared to a forecast last year of 63,000 (110,000 was the actual return).
The height of the spring chinook return is March and April. Sport angler trips in the Lower Columbia have averaged 129,000 since 2002.