Columbia River Sockeye Salmon Returns Highest in a Decade

The return of hardy Sockeye salmon to the Columbia River is worrying the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. According to WDFW, “the committee that forecasts and monitors salmon and steelhead returns to the Columbia River originally projected about 198,000 pre-season cutthroat salmon.” However, by June 29, nearly 350,000 individuals had already been counted at Bonneville Dam, making this year’s run the highest in 10 years.

From WDFW:

OLYMPIA – With Columbia River salmon returning to numbers well above the preseason forecast, fishery managers announced Thursday that sockeye fishing will open from the Astoria-Megler Bridge in the lower river to the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco and daily limits increase from there to Chief Joseph Dam near Bridgeport on the upper river.

of USA v. Oregon The Technical Advisory Committee, which predicts and monitors salmon and steelhead returns to the Columbia River, earlier this week upgraded its 2022 forecast for the return of bay to the river to 426,000, more than double the preseason forecast of 198,000 fish. As of June 29, the total preliminary walleye count at Bonneville Dam is 343,953 fish, the highest number to date in the last 10 years.

As a result, fishery managers determined that walleye retention may be opened beginning July 1 in many parts of the lower river, and limits may be increased in other sections previously scheduled for walleye retention. Sockeye fishing is also scheduled to open July 1 on the Okanogan and Milkameen rivers in Okanogan County.

“The higher-than-expected return is welcome news, both for the health of the sockeye population and for anglers across the Columbia,” said Quinten Daugherty, Columbia River fish biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Washington (WDFW). “We will continue to closely monitor the returns to ensure we are meeting our conservation goals, but we are optimistic that there will be many more opportunities to fish for sockeye in much of the river this summer. “

After a one-week opening in mid-June, further distribution is available given recently updated Chinook summer return expectations of 66,800 at the mouth of the Columbia River. Anglers will also have 13 additional days to fish for summer Chinook below Bonneville Dam.

To learn more, check out this press release from WDFW!

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