ID: Forecast looks good for chinook salmon season

Idaho Fish and Game plans to propose spring seasons on Chinook
salmon fishing to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in late
March.

This year is not expected to be as good as last year, but the
2011 Chinook salmon return is on track to be the sixth best year
since 1980. The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but the
forecast for numbers of returning fish are similar to 2008 and
2009.

Northwest fish managers estimate that about 198,000 Chinook
bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia
River this year – last year the number was 315,300.

Of those, 66,400 hatchery fish and 24,700 wild fish are
predicted to head up the Snake River. Last year’s actual return was
134,200 hatchery fish and 35,600 wild fish.

Based on those preseason forecasts, Idaho fish managers expect
37,840 hatchery fish and 19,760 wild fish to cross Lower Granite
Dam. They estimate that about 20,500 fish will return to Idaho
hatcheries in the Clearwater, lower Salmon and lower Snake
drainages.

As fish pass federal dams on their way up the Columbia and Snake
rivers, information from PIT tags – passive integrated transponder
– allows fish managers to adjust preseason estimates.

Fish managers estimate that about 7,300 would return to
hatcheries in the Clearwater drainage; 11,200 to hatcheries in the
lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers; and 2,000 to hatcheries in
the Snake River below Hells Canyon dams.

That means an estimated 2,000 Chinook would be available for
nontribal recreational anglers in the Clearwater; 4,200 in the
lower Salmon and Little Salmon; and about 800 in the Snake River
below the Hells Canyon dams.

In years past, Chinook seasons have opened in late April.

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