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Fall Fishery Recap

The fall fishing season has mostly wound down. The Zone 6 platforms can still sell any salmon or steelhead they catch through the end of the year, but there isn’t much fishing effort or catch. The tribes did authorize a sturgeon setline fishery in The Dalles pool to try to get some more of the fish remaining on the commercial harvest guideline.  A few sturgeon are being picked up.

This year’s fall season fisheries have set records for modern times. This year’s total fall chinook run was a bit less than the record high predicted, but was still a close second to last year’s record return. Steelhead returns did a bit better than predicted. The upriver coho return at Bonneville was the second highest since dam construction. At The Dalles Dam and further upriver, coho counts set record highs. The tribes had nine weeks of commercial gillnet fishing and caught over 260,000 adult fall chinook. There were 41½ days of commercial gillnet fishing, which is the most open days since at least back in the 1980’s. During the peak week, the tribal fishery caught just over 80,000 fall chinook, which is more than some fall seasons caught in their entirety. We have not found any records of harvesting more fish than this in one week, so this may be a new record high weekly catch. Even with all this fishing, fall chinook counts at Lower Granite set new records for adult fall chinook and adult coho. This is further evidence that tribal efforts to restore and rebuild upriver runs has benefited both the fish as well as fisheries and tribal economies.

Fishers may be turning their thoughts to next year. The pre-season forecasts won’t be done until December for spring and summer chinook and sockeye and the other stocks won’t be forecasted until as late as early February.  Fish runs naturally cycle up and down, so we may not see runs as large as this year in 2015, but most stocks may have pretty good returns next year and there is no reason we shouldn’t see good fishing opportunity.  Remember that our forecasts are just predictions and the fisheries get managed based on the actual returns.

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