3 More Springer Spots Opening

Even as the springer run over Bonneville appears more and more like it won’t meet preseason predictions, WDFW and ODFW today announced three more openers in the Columbia River system.

With around 800 Chinook already at Washington’s Scanewa Lake according to local fisheries biologist Wolf Dammers, the Cowlitz River reservoir will open May 8 for hatchery Chinook, daily limit six, but only two adults.

“Guys come over from Yakima to fish it,” he says. “There can be, on a busy weekend, 100 boats.”

Tacoma Power trucks the springers up from the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery to the remote lake, also known as Cowlitz Falls Reservoir.

“They’re in real good shape,” says Dammers of the fish.

He says radio-tagging work show that they tend to hold in the reservoir for a long time, but the fishery’s limiting factor is runoff from Mt. Rainier’s glaciers which clouds the water when it warms up, typically by early June.

“Most of the guys use herring,” Dammers says. “That’s the bait of choice.”

He says springers will be put into the lake as long as the salmon hatchery has a surplus. Tacoma Power also has been plunking springers into the Cispus River and Skate Creek, both of which are open now.

Up in Northeast Oregon, the Wallowa and Imnaha Rivers will open May 22, ODFW said this afternoon. Managers expect a total of 3,000 adult springers to both rivers, and while runoff might make things a go of it early on, catch rates are expected to rise as flows drop, a biologist says.

Meanwhile, a Columbia River salmon manager this afternoon still didn’t have word whether we’d reached the midpoint of the run which is expected this week.

“We’re right in there,” said Cindy Le Fleur at WDFW’s Vancouver office.

When the midpoint is know, managers can say whether or not there will be additional fisheries.

In recent days, the dam count has begun tailing off; yesterday, 4,289 went over Bonneville, though the count was as high as 9,184 as recently as Monday. Peak day was 11,697 on April 21, with total passage through May 5 of 167,659.

Earlier this week, managers indicated the run could end up somewhere between 310,000 and 370,000, and today’s Northwest Fishletter has two more guesses:

Another passage predictor developed by the University of Washington has estimated that about 63 percent of the upriver run had passed Bonneville Dam by May 2, and pegged the return at about 262,000 fish. A different UW analysis pegged the return to Bonneville at 49 percent.

The preseason forecast was 470,000, an average of seven different predictors that spat out run sizes from 366,000 to 528,000.

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