In March, Idaho Fish and Game expects to send proposals for the 2011 spring Chinook salmon fishing season to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.
Although fishing may not be as good as last year, the 2011 Chinook salmon return is on track to be the sixth best year since 1980. The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but numbers of returning fish are expected to be similar to 2008 and 2009.
Northwest fish managers estimate that about 198,000 Chinook bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia River this year. In 2010, it was estimated that 315,300 Chinook migrated into Idaho waters.
Estimates include 66,400 hatchery fish and 24,700 wild fish to head up the Snake River. Last year’s actual return was 134,200 hatchery fish and 35,600 wild fish.
Based on those preseason forecasts, Idaho fish managers expect 37,840 hatchery fish and 19,760 wild fish to cross Lower Granite Dam. They estimate that about 20,500 fish will return to Idaho hatcheries in the Clearwater, lower Salmon and lower Snake drainages.
As fish pass federal dams on their way up the Columbia and Snake rivers, information from passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags allows fish managers to adjust preseason estimates.
Fish managers estimate that about 7,300 would return to hatcheries in the Clearwater drainage; 11,200 to hatcheries in the lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers; and 2,000 to hatcheries in the Snake River below Hells Canyon dams.
It is estimated that approximately 2,000 Chinook will be available for non-tribal recreational anglers in the Clearwater; 4,200 in the lower Salmon and Little Salmon; and about 800 in the Snake River below the Hells Canyon dams.
In previous years, Idaho Chinook salmon seasons have opened in late April.
source: Idaho Fish and Game