March 2015 Fishery Update and Season Forecast
Winter Season Fisheries
We are most of the way through the 2015 winter season fisheries. The sturgeon setline fishery in January only caught a few fish, which is usually the case. Only 1 sturgeon was caught in the Bonneville Pool and 81 were caught in the John Day pool. This year, the tribes decided to do things a bit differently with the winter gillnet fishery. Because of a different sturgeon slot limit in the Bonneville pool, the tribes opened the upper two pools first and the Bonneville pool later. The Bonneville Pool opened Monday, February 23 and the upper pools were closed February 24.
The commercial sturgeon guidelines for 2015 are: Bonneville Pool: 1,100 fish; The Dalles: 325 fish; and John Day: 1,000 fish.
Spring Season Fisheries
The tribes are in the process of planning the upcoming spring season fisheries. No final decisions have been made yet. There will be discussions of all aspects of spring fishing including the Ceremonial Permit fishery, the Zone 6 platform fishery, commercial gillnet fishing, fishing downstream of Bonneville. Commercial sales will certainly be part of these discussions as well. The relatively low allowed harvest rates and run sizes (that are not as big as we would like) do present challenges in giving fishers all the spring fishing opportunity that they would like.
The forecast is for a run similar to 2014. Both treaty and non-treaty fisheries are managed based on the same actual river mouth runs sizes. We won’t have a great deal of certainty about the actual run sizes until early May with the first run size updates. If the run comes in near forecast, total catches in the spring will probably be similar to last year. The run could be larger or smaller than forecast. As seen in the graph, last year’s forecast matched the actual return quite well (with the exception of sockeye), however this early in the season it is hard to predict how the fisheries will go.