Columbia River spring salmon at new lows - Fly Fishing Forum
Our Environment We are stewards of wild places

Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-14-2005, 09:24 AM
Dble Haul's Avatar
Dble Haul Dble Haul is offline
Fly chucker
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: New England
Posts: 3,674
Columbia River spring salmon at new lows

Columbia River Spring Salmon at New Lows

By JOSEPH B. FRAZIER, Associated Press Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. - Usually by now the Columbia River's spring chinook salmon are heading upstream over fish ladders in the tens of thousands to spawn. But not this year.

"It's a never-before-seen scarcity," said Charles Hudson of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. "We're way behind, even compared to the historically low years of 1994-1995."

It's this bad: For centuries the treaty Indian tribes on the river have caught salmon for the ceremonial First Foods celebration marking the return of the fish. This year they had to get their salmon somewhere else.

Fish biologists had predicted a spring run of about 229,000 chinooks at Bonneville Dam, about 140 miles upstream from the Pacific. But as of Tuesday, near the usual midpoint of the spring run, only about 200 had been counted there.

The chinooks enter the Columbia River from the Pacific at this time of year to return to the streams where they were hatched.

Scientists say they don't have an explanation.

"Nobody knows why, certainly not any of the scientists here I've talked to," said Brian Gorman of the Pacific Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle. "It's a mystery. Nobody has a clear idea."

Gorman said the run is not only late, "it is mysteriously late."

Some fish managers wonder whether low water levels as a result of a dry winter combined with murky water caused by recent rains are keeping chinook from swimming up the Columbia.

"Spring chinook are pretty finicky when conditions are abnormal," said Guy Norman, regional director for the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife. "April and early May are the most significant times for spring chinook movement over the (Bonneville) dam. We're hoping for good things to come."

Fish swimming upstream on the Columbia are tallied at the Bonneville Dam, where they go up fish ladders, which resemble stairs, and swim past a large window.

Their numbers are a factor in setting fishing seasons for sport, tribal and commercial fishermen.

Hudson said he's optimistic "there are fish out there gathering at the mouth of the river waiting for some biological trigger to send them up."

The economic impact of the small chinook return is not clear.

"Historically the midpoint of the run is April 26 at Bonneville Dam," Hudson said. "We will have to wait and see where we are then, when we may have a clearer picture."

Curtis Melcher, marine salmon fisheries manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlfe, said weekly meetings are held to look at the size of the run and the size of the catch, and regulators are not yet ready to recommend trimming the season.

He said sport fishermen are catching some chinooks but not as many as usual. He said many of those caught were bound for the Willamette River and other tributaries below the dam.

Each year juvenile salmon swim downstream through an obstacle course of hydroelectric dams to the Pacific Ocean. In two or three years, through a biological instinct that is not well understood, they return upriver to the stream where they were hatched. There, they spawn and die.

Most of this year's spring run went to sea in 2002 or 2003, said Norman, adding that there were no conditions in those years that would readily explain the dearth of fish this spring.

Hudson said the fish are back in near their usual numbers in the Willamette River, which joins the Columbia well below Bonneville Dam, the first dam the returning fish encounter on their return.

"With an impact of this kind you're usually talking about hydroelectric operations as a likely cause," Hudson contended.

Bonneville is required to release a certain amount of water past dams to help fish if the water flow is low to keep young salmon out of hydroelectric turbines. The turbines kill about 10 percent of the fish that go through them.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Sponsored Links
Old 04-14-2005, 10:35 AM
Moonlight Moonlight is offline
Registered User
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: North West
Posts: 884
That last lines a killer!!

The turbines kill about 10 percent of the fish......
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-15-2005, 12:23 AM
Active Member
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 498

Where's the Fish?........Hmmmmm......?
Could it be that there late? Could it be that...... the Fish Gurus missed calced the #'s.........Well, could it be that they are just sitting off-shore?.......Hmmmmm.......?

I mean, it could'nt be that the the Health of the Rivers is in Severe Decline.....oh NO! It Could'nt be the Multiple Obstructions in the way of there migration.....Never! I mean it could'nt be Overfishing, or Destruction of Habitat, or Acid Rain!..........I mean, the Fish aint....pi**ed off, are they?

If you had to swim through a Toilet to get to your Bedroom after a Vacation at the Sea shore, would YOU think twice about comming home?...... Well?

I would

I remain......NOT suprised
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Fly Fishing Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:
Home Waters
Your home waters
Current Favorite Fly
If you only had one... (change anytime)


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
FACEBOOK for Atlantic salmon - and a dam collapses on a salmon river - video YouTube salmonthink Classic Atlantic Salmon 0 04-09-2009 01:01 PM
Columbia Chinook Salmon JTWG Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum 3 03-18-2008 01:57 PM
Columbia Chinook Salmon JTWG Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum 0 03-16-2008 02:24 PM
columbia river fishers Hammer Worldwide Flyfishing Discussion 10 05-08-2004 05:38 PM
Understanding Columbia River Dam Counts NrthFrk16 Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum 1 07-06-2003 10:57 PM

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:40 PM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright (All Rights Reserved)