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July Tribal Fishery Update

Spring Fisheries

The spring chinook run started slow but increased toward the end. While it was still well below forecast, the final river mouth run size will be around 120,000 fish. This stronger than expected finish enabled the tribes to re-open their Zone 6 fisheries and still keep the overall catch within the allowed limit under the US v. Oregon Management Agreement. That limit depends on the final actual run size. The total allowed tribal catch will be close to 10,000 fish and the tribal fishery will have caught almost all of this share. There was also a sturgeon set-line fishery in early June in The Dalles Pool. Effort and catches were low with a final catch of fewer than 30 sturgeon.

Summer Fisheries

These are preliminary estimates. The actual allowed harvest rate will be different and will be dependent on the actual river mouth run size.
Pre-season Run Size Estimate Tribal Fishery Harvest Rate at Predicted Run Size Estimated catch size (based on forecast run size and harvest rate)
Upriver Summer Chinook 73,500 28.4% 20,910
Sockeye 180,500 7% 12,635

 

The summer management period goes from June 16 through July 31. Based on the pre-season forecast run sizes, it is reasonable to expect good fishing opportunities for both chinook and sockeye during the summer period. The summer season fisheries are managed according to abundance-based harvest rate schedules for chinook and sockeye in the US v. Oregon Management Agreement. The US v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will begin to update sockeye and summer chinook run sizes in late June and early July. Normally the highest summer chinook counts at Bonneville occur in the last two weeks of June and then gradually drop throughout July. Sockeye counts tend to peak in late June and drop quickly after that. There is no specific harvest rate limit for steelhead in summer season tribal fisheries.

The first two summer commercial gillnet fishing periods of the year occured on June 17-21 and June 24-27. There was a 7″ or larger mesh size requirement for both openings to maximize the chance that sockeye catches would not limit fishing for summer chinook. If the run sizes are close to forecast and the catches in the first two gillnet openings are as expected, two additional gillnet openings are likely, along with continued sale of platform and hook and line fish through the summer season.

Fall Season

A very large return of Upriver Bright fall chinook is expected this year. If it comes in close to forecast, it may be one of the largest runs in the past 30 years. Upriver Bright fish are fall chinook from any area upstream of McNary along with Deschutes fall chinook.

The expected returns of the mid-Columbia bright stock are closer to average levels. Mid-Columbia bright fish are bright stock fish from Bonneville Hatchery and the other Zone 6 tributaries.

Unfortunately only a small return of tules are expected, returning to Spring Creek Hatchery and the Wind and White Salmon rivers.

A below average run of B steelhead is expected. B steelhead are any steelhead with a fork length of 78 cm or larger. This will produce some challenges for managing the fall fisheries. The tribes will likely choose to use an 8″ minimum mesh size requirement to avoid steelhead. There are some other possible ideas such as starting the commercial gillnet fishing a little earlier before a lot of the B steelhead show up. Fishing might not be all that great in the upper pools with an early start, but it may increase the chance of catching as many of the harvestable fall chinook as possible. It is not always possible to perfectly balance having really good fishing opportunity in all three pools with the goal of catching as many of the harvestable chinook as possible. It is not too early for fishers to start thinking about how they think fall fisheries should be structured. Let your tribe know if you think you have some good ideas.

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