Bumper Steelie Run Forecast

Columbia River managers have finally come out with a forecast for 2010’s upriver summer steelhead run, and it’s a doozy — 453,000 Skamanias, A-runs and B-runs, of which 73 percent will be keepable hatchery fish.

That figure is well over last year’s initial forecast for above-Bonneville-bound fish — 351,800 steelhead — though the run actually came in at just over 601,000.

(WDFW)

The forecast was made in a PDF entitled “2010 Columbia River Mouth Fish Returns Actual and Forecasts,” which is expected to be posted in a day or so.

The highlight may be a very strong return of B-run steelies. Twice as many of those big beefy battlers heading for Central Idaho as came in last season are expected this year.

A person familiar with the forecast credits “positive ocean conditions, which were reflected in last year’s strong return of Group A (mainly 1-salt fish).  We are hoping to see some of that benefit carry over to Group B (mainly 2-salt fish).”

Already this year, anglers have seen good fishing for some early Skamania-strain stocks such as those returning to the Washougal and Klickitat on the Washington side and the upper Willamette on the Oregon side.

So far this year, 10,125 steelies have gone over Bonneville, 4,000 more than the 10-year average and 5,000 more than at the same time in 2009.

Based on stats from a joint ODFW/WDFW 2009 spring and summer salmonid stock assessment, if the run of 453,000 does come in, it would be the fourth largest since 1984; if the B-run comes in as expected, it would be second only to 2002’s 129,000; if the A-run comes in, it would be the third largest to last year and 2001.

To intercept the runs, check out the June issue of Northwest Sportsman for details on fishing the Columbia River as well as four Southwest Washington tribs, plus Buzz Ramsey’s tips for scamming Skamanias.

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