The 2017 Spring Chinook Season Predications/Forecast in Columbia River
The Columbia River Spring Chinook Run is likely the most anticipated fishery in the Columbia River basin. Though the fall fishery usually has much higher numbers bound for many more rivers, the famous "Springer" is the most delicious of salmon, arguably in the world. Spring chinook also stay bright for much longer than their fall counterparts, based on the fact that they are meant to stay in the rivers for a much longer time before spawning.
The first reported spring chinook was caught in mid-February this year. This is typical of the pilot run. Anglers tend to start fishing for springers in early March to target the first pushes of spring chinook. This is not a numbers fishery except on prime years. The majority of fish show up in April and surge through the Lower Columbia bound for rivers above Bonneville Dam. The Willamette receives a solid run of spring fish - this year predicted at 40,000 plus.
Breakdown of Spring Chinook Run
Lower river tributaries have experienced smaller runs than decades ago but still offer opportunity to get into quality chinook. The Lower Columbia season is expected to close on April 6th, when the catch quota is met. Extensions may happen and the season will likely open up at a later date going into Summer Chinook.
Natural runs of spring chinook mostly return to larger rivers with consistent flows that can harbor fish for months at a time. This requirement of specific habitat makes certain rivers incapable of harboring naturally spawning spring chinook. Some hatchery operations stock them anyway to provide a chinook fishery in spring, but do not produce numbers of naturally spawning spring chinook.
Below are the forecasted numbers :
Spring Chinook Predictions for Columbia River Basin
Columbia River Upriver Bright - 160,000+
Cowlitz River: 17,000+
Kalama River: 3,000+
Lewis River: 700 (Closed to Retention due to low numbers)
Willamette River: 40,000+
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Written by Lucas Holmgren