First 5-digit Day At BD

Yesterday saw the year’s first five-digit day at Bonneville Dam. Just under 11,700 spring Chinook were counted there, raising the total for the year to 68,432.

What does it all mean?

Well, managers are wondering that too.

“The question is, is (the run) early? Is it big? Or both?” says Joe Hymer of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in Vancouver.

There are now signs that some elements of the forecasted record upriver return of 470,000 might be early, a vast improvement since the days in March when yours truly fretted about the run being late.

Wind River fish sometimes chill at places like Drano Lake before heading for Carson National Fish Hatchery, but Hymer reports some are already in the Wind River itself.

There are also something on the order of 1,000 kings back to the Cowlitz already, he says, as well as many in the Lewis, both of which may indicate an earlier run.

Or is the run big?

That’s what the big sport catch and commercial take point towards, Hymer notes. The two fleets killed a combined 32,197 above-Bonneville-bound kings below the dam through April 18, 71.2 percent of which were accounted for by recreational anglers.

A big run would get the managers off the hook for allowing the upriver mortality by sporties to screech past the preseason guideline of 17,200, put in place to give Eastside anglers a chance to dip their gear in as well as protect listed wild stocks.

Then, when you factor in Willamette, Cowlitz and other stocks in the tally for the Lower Columbia, the sport catch of 29,125 is the largest ever, reports Al Thomas of The Columbian today.

Add that to the 18,018 caught by commercials in the mainstem Columbia and bays near Astoria and the 2010 all-stock catch totals 47,143.

(APRIL 23: THE COLUMBIA BASIN BULLETIN ADDS THAT A HIGH NUMBER OF UPRIVER CHINOOK WERE CAUGHT IN COMMERCIAL AREAS IN THE LOWER COLUMBIA WHERE THEY “RARELY WANDER” AND MAY BE ANOTHER SIGN OF A LARGE RUN.)

Or … is the run big and early?

As recently as March 31, only 14 percent of the 10-year average had passed the dam. But with yesterday’s count, the run is now 10,000 fish above that mark.

It’s now the fourth largest return through April 21 since 2000 — and is nipping at the tail fins of the third largest. It follows behind 2001’s 254,884; 2003’s 102,951; and 2000’s 77,775.

If you add in the below-Bonneville catch of upriver fish, you get a count of 100,629.

But those other years’ counts would also be elevated by adding in the downriver catches, which, frankly, yours truly is too lazy to look up.

Leading the charge this past week, springers headed to Rapid River Hatchery on the Little Salmon River. PIT tag counts at Bonneville indicate at least 305 kings bound for the Central Idaho stream have gone over in the past seven days. Forty-five springers headed to both Drano Lake and the Clearwater River have also been tallied, as have 42 heading for the upper Grande Ronde’s Catherine Creek.

This much is for sure: There be some fish around. Thomas got ahold of ODFW’s Steve Williams for his piece, quoting him as saying, “The river looks pretty fishy. But until they pass the dam, it’s hard to know how fishy it is.”

Meanwhile, as we await early May’s run-size update — and whether that will show enough fish to again drop hooks into the Lower Columbia — there’s plenty of springer fishing to be done.

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One Response to “First 5-digit Day At BD”

  1. Springers 2010, By The Numbers « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] single day count: 11,697 (April […]

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