Forecast for 2014 upriver Columbia spring chinook shows big increase

Staff reportDecember 8, 2013 

The spring chinook fishery on the Columbia River can produce catches like this nearly 20-pound fish landed by Wil Morrison. The forecast for the upriver spring chinook run in 2014 is nearly 85 percent higher than the run was this year.

MARK HARRISON/SEATTLE TIMES FILE, 2008

The 2014 run of upriver adult spring chinook on the Columbia River is forecast to be nearly 85 percent larger than the 2013 run.

Fish managers from the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife released the forecast Thursday, calling for a return of 227,000 spring chinook.

That is above the actual 2013 return of 123,100 fish and the forecast of 141,000 fish.

With a positive trend in the numbers, that could translate into good news for Columbia River anglers who like to take part in the popular springer fishery. Many fishermen consider the Columbia spring chinook to be the best-eating salmon a recreational angler can catch.

“With the increased upriver spring chinook run size, there should be more opportunity especially from the Interstate 5 bridge upstream,” said Joe Hymer, Washington state fish biologist.

As for the number of days and bag limits on the mainstem Columbia, those details will be figured out at the Jan. 21 joint state hearing, Hymer added.

A bigger run in 2014 could mean a major increase in the spring chinook catch that nearly reached 7,000 adult fish caught and kept in 2013.

The chinook catch this spring on the lower river was 6,950 fish kept, with another 2,666 adult fish caught and released, according to another joint report released Thursday. Anglers also caught and kept 687 jack chinook. Overall, there were an estimated 109,655 anglers who took part in the spring fishery on the Columbia that was open for various periods from Feb. 1-June 15.

Managers also released the forecast for summer chinook, with a run nearly identical to the 2013 actual run. The 2014 summer adult chinook forecast is 67,500 fish, while the 2013 actual run was 67,600 fish and the forecast was 73,500 fish.

The summer 2013 fishery resulted in a catch of 1,832 adult chinook kept, 1,508 adult fish released and 366 jacks kept, according to the report. An estimated 52,037 people took part in the summer fishery that ran at various times from June 16-July 31.

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