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Preseason Run Forecasts Show Improved Coho, Fall Chinook Numbers For This Year

Columbia Basin Bulletin February 20, 2009

A strong spring chinook salmon return to the Columbia River basin, if it indeed materializes, is expected to be followed by improved coho and fall chinook runs this year, according to preseason forecasts.

The "upriver bright" fall chinook return to the river mouth is expected to total 259,900 adults, according to 2009 forecasts released Feb. 13 by the U..S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. A run that size would be slightly better than the recent 10-year average and considerably better than the 2008 return of 196,900 URBs.

Most of the URB stocks are bound for the Hanford Reach of the mid-Columbia and Priest Rapids Hatchery. The upriver brights also include Snake, Deschutes and Yakima river fish. Wild Snake River fall chinook are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The total Columbia River fall chinook forecast for 2009 is 510,900, which overall is similar to the 10-year average and improved over 2008. Last year's return totaled 431,700 fall chinook, which was slightly better than the preseason forecast of 366,500.

The 2009 upriver spring chinook return is expected to total 298,900 adult fish, which would be the third highest return since at least 1980 and the highest since 2002. Last year's upriver spring chinook run totaled 269,300.

The Bonneville Upriver Bright and Pool Upriver Bright components of the 2009 run are expected to total 50,00 and 44,400, respectively, according to the preseason forecasts. Such totals would be similar to the 10-year average and would better 2008 returns of 43,300 BUBs and 32,200 PUBs.

The BUB stock comes largely from Bonneville Hatchery in Oregon below Bonneville Dam while the PUBs largely originate upstream from Little White Salmon, Irrigon and Klickitat hatcheries with some natural production believed to occur in the mid-Columbia's mainstem below John Day Dam and in the Wind, White Salmon, Klickitat and Umatilla rivers.

The Bonneville Pool Hatchery fall chinook tule return is expected to take a dip this year. The forecast is for a 2009 run of 59,300 fish, about 50 percent of the 10-year average. The BPH return last year was 91,900.

The 2009 forecast for Lower River Wild fall chinook is 8,500, which is slightly better than the 2008 return of 7,100 but would still be the fifth lowest return since 1964.

The lower River Hatchery fall chinook return is expected to total 88,800, which would be similar to the 10-year average.

The preseason forecast is for a return of more than 1 million coho to the Columbia River, which would be a near doubling of the 2008 return of 541,500. The Feb. 6 forecasts predict the 2009 return will include 672,700 early run and 369,700 late run Columbia River coho salmon.
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