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Nov 2012 Fishing Season Update

Stuart Ellis, CRITFC Fisheries Management Biologist

There were seven weekly commercial gillnet fishing periods with 22.5 days of gillnet fishing. This compares with a recent five-year average of 27.2 days of gillnet fishing. Tribal fishers caught about 85,600 adult fall chinook, almost 15,000 steelhead, and 6,800 coho. The fall chinook run sizes were near recent year averages, but the catch rates for chinook were much lower than normal. There was good effort with the peak net count reaching 749 nets which is just under the record for the last 12 years. The tribes had some B steelhead concerns, but given the harvest effort this year, it wouldn’t have been possible to catch all of the allowed upriver Bright chinook even without the steelhead limits. It is unknown why catch rates were off this year. Water conditions weren’t far from normal. There was often an east wind, especially in the Gorge, which may have impacted catch rates. Prices were good for much of the fall season and there were good numbers of buyers available to purchase fish. People have still been contacting CRITFC asking for information on buying fish direct from fishers, which is a little unusual for mid-October. Based on jack counts and returns to the Snake Basin, it looks like fall chinook should be doing well next year. Spring and summer forecasts will come out in December. The fall chinook forecast won’t be done until early February.

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