Columbia River salmon forecasts looking bright

More than a handful of the preliminary Columbia River salmon forecasts have already been released, and it appears that anglers should be happy with what they'll find next spring, summer and fall.

"After an analysis of the early forecast I'd say there is more good news than bad, and folks can look for improved chinook opportunities off our coast," said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association. "I'm not suggesting a bonanza of fish, but an improved population of chinook will be coming our way."

According to state Fish and Wildlife, the total adult fall chinook return to the Columbia River in 2009 was forecast to be 532,900. This year's fall chinook jack returns were high (some stocks had record returns), which should lead to larger returns of adult chinook next summer.

The 2010 Upper Columbia River summer chinook forecast is 88,800.

The Lower Columbia River hatchery chinook stock in 2010 should be an improvement over the past five years. The 2009 return was slightly less than predicted, but the jack return was one of the largest since the mid-1980s.

The Lower Columbia River wild chinook stock in 2010 should be similar to the past few years, but still below average. The 2009 return was similar to predicted.

The Bonneville Pool hatchery chinook stock in 2010 should see an improvement compared to the past few years. The 2009 return was similar to predicted, but it included the largest jack return in the database by a factor of two.

The Columbia River upriver bright (URB) chinook stock in 2010 should be similar to recent years. The 2009 return was less than predicted, but had the largest return of jacks since the mid-1980s.

The mid-Columbia bright chinook stock in 2010 should be above average. The 2009 return was as predicted, and it had the largest jack return on record.

The total Columbia River fall chinook 2010 return likely will be greater than 2009 due to high jack returns. In 2009 the return was less than the prediction, primarily due to fewer URBs.

It is still unclear what to expect for Columbia River summer coho next year, but the returns in 2009 were slightly less than the predicted count of 703,100 adult coho. The early outlook points to fishing seasons similar to the returns in 2005 (339,000) and 2006 (386,000).

The Columbia River sockeye forecast is 124,600 (14,300 back to the Wenatchee, 110,300 to the Okanogan).

The Snake River return was unavailable.

The bright spot in 2010 could be the Columbia River upriver spring chinook forecast of 470,000.