Good Willamette spring chinook run forecast
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
A strong run of 83,400 spring chinook salmon headed for Oregon’s Willamette River is forecast to enter the Columbia in 2012.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released the Willamette forecast and said the number should be enough to allow for a seven-day-a-week fishery and two-fish bag limit when the season opens in January.
In 2011, the run was 80,200.
Many Clark County anglers launch at Ridgefield or in the Woodland area and fish in Multnomah Channel, the portion of the Willamette that flows on the west side of Sauvie Island.
State biologist Chris Kern said the 83,400 forecast includes an expected 65,900 hatchery-origin chinook.
At 65,900, Oregon’s management plan calls for 26,500 to pass Willamette Falls and enter the upper watershed and 4,000 to escape to the Clackamas River.
That leaves 35,400 available hatchery fish as surplus, which are to be split 73 percent sport and 27 percent commercial.
Kern said those percentages mean 25,800 hatchery fish for sportsmen in the Columbia and downstream of Willamette Falls, with 9,600 available for gillnetters in the Columbia and off-channel areas such as Youngs Bay and Tongue Point.
Generally, the commercial fleet is unable to catch its full allotment of Willamette-origin chinook before running up against restrictions to protect upper Columbia chinook.
There is no official split between sport-fishing in the lower Columbia and the lower Willamette, he said. The 25,800 is intended to cover both fisheries.
Sandy River — The forecast for Oregon’s Sandy River is 4,800 spring chinook in 2012. The return in 2011 was 4,300, Kern said.