LEWISTON — The annual return of spring chinook salmon to the Columbia River is likely to be just half of what was predicted earlier this year, according to a committee of salmon managers in the basin.
Members of the Technical Advisory Committee said today the return of spring chinook to the Columbia River is likely to be between 120,000 to 150,000. The previous prediction, made before the run started, was 298,900.
So far this year only 66,000 spring chinook have returned past Bonneville Dam. Another 20,000 chinook have been caught in sport and commercial fisheries in the lower Columbia. Based on those numbers the run could be half done at Bonneville.
Members of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet by telephone Thursday to be briefed on the new prediction and to consider changes to the ongoing salmon fishing season on several Idaho rivers that started late last month.
The committee of salmon managers did not issue a new run prediction for Lower Granite Dam. But Cindy Lafleur, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at Vancouver, said the number of chinook bound for the Snake River is likely to decrease by the same percentage. Before the season started, salmon managers estimated about 130,000 spring and summer chinook would return past Lower Granite.
"It looks like we are going to have quite a few less fish," said Larry Barrett, a fisheries biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston. "Hopefully we will be wrong and a bunch more fish will come in but it's starting to get late."