The 2017 salmon seasons on the Columbia River are starting to take shape, starting with the projections for the Spring Chinook and Coho runs. Fishery managers are now predicting a Spring Chinook run of 160,400 fish, with 17,100 of those fish heading into the Cowlitz. The spring run in the Kalama is estimated at 3,100 fish, and only 700 in the Lewis River. That low return on the Lewis will have that river closed to Spring Chinook fishing from the mouth to Merwin Dam, starting on March 1st going until further notice. The main stem of the Columbia opens up to Bonneville Dam on March 1st, and is expected to be open through April 6th. The 2017 Spring Chinook rules will be adopted next Thursday after a hearing in Vancouver.
They’re also projecting another weak Coho run in the Columbia for 2017, news that will affect angler access to those fish in the coming year. Washington and Oregon fish biologists report the projected run of 386,300 fish is nearly identical to last year’s prediction; the actual run count was much lower, coming in at 223,100 fish. These weak numbers will almost certainly lead to reduced harvest opportunities; last year, there was no Coho fishing allowed on the ocean north of Leadbetter Point, and the entire Coho quota was set at 18,900 fish.
Full details on the 2017 run projections will be presented by Washington Fish and Wildlife on Tuesday, the 28th in Olympia. From March 7th to the 13th, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet in Vancouver, when a range of sport and commercial fishing options will be adopted. The “North of Falcon” meetings for setting the offshore salmon seasons will be held in March and April. Dates and times for those meetings are pending.