Read the headiness . . . .
“Fall Chinook run on Columbia largest in decades” (this from Oregonian Live.com)
You may be wondering what the heck our coastal chinook fishery has to do, if anything, with the Columbia River Chinook run?
Answer: maybe not much but maybe a lot. How’s that for retired fish biologist evasional thinking?
Consider that as of last week’s end, they had counted nearly eight hundred thousand fall chinook over Bonneville Dam. The final tally at Bonneville may well run close to a million adults this year. What’s the typical return of hatchery and wild Chinook to the Oregon coast? See if you can get an answer on this by going to the ODFW website.
Here is what I hope. I hope that the ocean survival that obviously helped those fish also helped boost survival of our coastal river Kings. I also hope that with so many Chinook swimming around in the ocean off BC and SE Alaska, that the ocean fishery interception rate was lower on our coastal fish. I’m pretty sure that I saw something like this in the late 1980s, when we had a monster coastal Chinook return and the Upriver Brights on the Columbia were huge in number and size as well. I have this hunch that big brood years of the Upper Columbia Kings correspond with big runs of our coastal fish, at least enough of the time, to keep this hope alive.
Sure, I know that the Columbia smolts and our coastal chinook smolts go to sea at different times, and I’m not really up on the latest scientific poo-poo on Coded-Wire-Tag recovery in the ocean to know for sure how much the ocean feeding areas of the upper Columbia and coastal Kings overlap — but I’m pretty sure they do and still I am optimistic.
So far, returns of early Kings to the North Coast seem a little better than we have seen for years, and that also gives me reason to hope that 2013 will be a great year. If it is, I also expect 2014 to be strong, because Chinook return at ages 2-6 and it is rare to see a single-year peak-run followed by a very low-run year. Not impossible, just rare.
So if you ever thought about swimming a fly for King Salmon, this could just be a good year to give it a try.
Here are a few photos from the 2013 season to date, scrubbed by the Office of Homeland Fly Fishing Paranoia, Hysteria, Secrecy and Security.
Best to you all, may your burdens be eased, eventually, by fishing.
Jay Nicholas – September 20, 2013