Spring Chinook salmon are still arriving at the Pelton-Round Butte Complex of dams on Central Oregon’s Deschutes River where they are trapped and hauled upstream to Lake Billy Chinook. And so far partners Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs are seeing the best annual return of the fish since they began their efforts to reintroduce Chinook, sockeye and summer steelhead above the dams 13 years ago.
The first two sockeye salmon to arrive in the Sawtooth Basin near Stanley, Idaho, were trapped July 28 by Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists and some 2,066 of the Snake River run of sockeye have passed Lower Granite Dam, 30 miles downstream of Lewiston, ID.
The majority of the run of Snake River sockeye salmon, a small segment of the largest Columbia River sockeye run since Bonneville Dam was built in 1938 (most return to the upper Columbia), have passed eight Columbia and Snake river dams and are now moving up the Salmon River.
Salmon and steelhead returns to the Columbia River this year have been mixed, but still are expected to be generally higher than they were in 2021. Upriver spring Chinook, summer Chinook, coho and sockeye salmon, shad and summer steelhead returns are all higher this year, according to two Columbia River Compact staff reports released this year. The exception is fall Chinook salmon, which is forecasted to have a similar run as last year’s dismal 66 percent of the 10-year average.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week celebrated the return of endangered winter-run Chinook salmon eggs to the McCloud River upstream of Shasta Reservoir for the first time since the construction of the Shasta Dam in the 1940s.
With an uptick in the run-size forecast for summer Chinook salmon, Columbia River fisheries managers this week extended angling in the river through the end of the month. Fishing in the lower river downstream of Bonneville Dam to the Astoria Megler Bridge in Astoria was set to end July 14, but the extension allows angling in that area to continue uninterrupted through July 31. Fall Chinook fishing begins the next day, Aug. 1.
What’s the most imperiled salmon stock in the Columbia/Snake river basin? It may be the Tucannon River’s spring Chinook. The fish have taken a dive, possibly facing extinction.
Columbia River fishery managers from Oregon and Washington added 13 days of summer Chinook fishing below Bonneville Dam starting today, July 1 through Wednesday, July 13. The move comes as the sockeye return is now predicted to be more than double the preseason forecast.
Following another run upgrade, fishery managers from Oregon and Washington adopted additional fishing opportunity for spring Chinook salmon in the mainstem Columbia River from the Tongue Point area near Astoria to the Oregon/Washington state line upstream of McNary Dam and increased the bag limit for Chinook to up to two adults per day.