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Summer salmon fisheries scheduled; large sockeye return anticipated

Oregon and Washington fishery managers of Columbia River on Wednesday approved both tribal and non-Indian commercial fisheries for the early summer period, and laid out the ground rules for sport fisheries that are expected to target Chinook salmon and what is expected to be a bumper crops of sockeye salmon returning, for the most part, to the Okanogan River basin.

The 2014 forecast for sockeye is for a very strong return of 347,100 fish to the Columbia River. The forecast includes 63,400 Wenatchee stock, 282,500 Okanogan stock, and 1,200 Snake River stock. The Wenatchee and Okanogan rivers pour into the Columbia in central Washington. The Snake River stock, listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, comes from central Idaho’s Salmon River basin.

Such a sockeye return would be the third largest on a record dating back to 1980, according to the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife Joint Staff Report issued in January. The top two sockeye returns to the mouth of the Columbia were an estimated 388,000 fish in 2010 and a record 521,000 in 2012.

Bonneville Dam passage through June 9 totaled 3,480 sockeye, which is similar to expectations based on the forecast and 10-year average run timing. Over the next three days the sockeye counts at Bonneville, located near river mile 146, have continued to build. The tally Thursday was 3,725 to bring the y ear’s total to 11,273.

June 25 on average has been the date when 50 percent of the sockeye run will have passed over Bonneville’s fish ladders, but that 50-percent passage mark has been as late as July 1.

“Summer” recreational fisheries are set to run from June 16 through June 30 from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Bonneville Dam and from June 16 through July 31 from Bonneville upstream to Priest Rapids Dam in south-central Washington. Those fisheries have since 2010 been mark-selective for Chinook, allowing only the retention of adipose fin-clipped hatchery Chinook.

Sockeye retention will be allowed in the lower Columbia mainstem (downstream of Bonneville) June 16-30. In the mainstem from Bonneville to Priest Rapids sockeye retention is allowed through July 31.

The 2014 forecast is for a return of 67,500 summer Chinook adults to the mouth of the Columbia River, which would be similar to the 2013 return (67,600 adults) and slightly greater (107 percent) than the 10-year average return of 62,900 adults. The early part of the summer Chinook run likely includes some fish from the tail of the Snake River spring/summer stock, which is also ESA listed, and the beginnings of the mid-Columbia run, which is considered to be healthy.

Non-tribal commercial fishers will get a first shot at the summer run during an eight-hour opener that starts at 9 p.m. Monday in the lower Columbia, from Bonneville down to the river mouth. The gill netter fishery approved Wednesday by the Columbia River Compact allows the sale of Chinook and sockeye salmon and shad. The Compact is made up of representatives of the ODFW and WDFW directors. It sets mainstem Columbia commercial fisheries.

The Oregon and Washington fishery management agencies expect a relatively high effort – about 125 deliveries to commercial buyers – with a catch expectation of 1,800 summer chinook. The sockeye catch is estimated to be well within the 1,040 fish allocated for summer non-indian commercial fisheries.

The sockeye catch is limited in order to protect the Snake River portion of the run. Overall the non-tribal sport and commercial fisheries are allowed to exact a 1 percent toll on the sockeye run; and treaty fisheries are allowed 7 percent.

The non-Indian sport allocation of summer Chinook is 2,424 adult fish below Bonneville and 426 between Bonneville. The lower river gill-net fishers have an allocation of 1,893.

A total of 14,563 summer Chinook are allocated for non-Indian harvest above Priest Rapids. The Colville and Wanapum tribes share that above Priest Rapids non-Indian allocation.

The Compact also approved two 3 ½-day tribal commercial fisheries in “Zone 6” reservoirs above Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dams. The fisheries begin on June 19 and 23. The treaty tribes can catch and sell, or keep for subsistence purposes, salmon, steelhead, shad, yellow perch, bass, walleye, catfish and carp. Sturgeon may not be sold, but sturgeon from 43 to 54 inches fork length in The Dalles and John Day Pools and from 38 to 54 inches fork length in the Bonneville Pool may be kept for subsistence purposes. Fish landed during the open periods are allowed to be sold after the period concludes.

The Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama treaty tribes estimate they will catch about 5,500 Chinook and 3,000 sockeye during the two fishing periods.

For the summer season (June 16-July 31) the four treaty tribes are allocated 18,563 adult summer chinook and 24,297 sockeye, based on the preseason r un-size forecasts and corresponding impact limits described in a management agreement with the states.

Columbia Basin Bulletin The Columbia Basin Bulletin e-mail newsletter is produced by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon and supported with Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife funds through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program. Articles republished by The Dalles Chronicle with permission.

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