Downsized salmon run predicted for Wind River

Allen Thomas / The Vancouver Columbian /

Weak returns of spring chinook salmon are predicted for the Wind River and Drano Lake in Skamania County, a not-surprising forecast given the low return expected to the Columbia River upstream of Bonneville Dam.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is forecasting a return of 3,000 spring chinook to the Wind River, 4,500 to Drano Lake and 2,200 to the Klickitat River.

Those numbers compare to 5,400 in the Wind, 8,800 at Drano and 2,100 in the Klickitat in 2012.

Given that Carson National Fish Hatchery needs about 1,500 spring chinook for spawning, it is possible there will be angling restrictions at Wind River in 2013.

Biologist Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said the two-pole rule, allowed during part of the 2012 fishery, is almost certainly gone. The angling area, expanded in 2012, might return to its former size, certain days of the week might be closed or the daily bag limit reduced.

Drano Lake needs 1,000 spring chinook for spawning, but also is fished by treaty Indians fishermen with nets and off platforms along the west shore the lake.

Drano Lake is a large backwater at the mouth of the Little White Salmon River. Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery is just upstream of the lake.

State, tribal and federal biologists predicted in early December a return of 141,400 spring chinook to waters upstream of Bonneville Dam in 2013. If accurate, that will be the poorest run in six years.

Anglers caught 3,500 adult spring chinook from the Wind in 2012, a number larger than this year’s total run forecast. Anglers caught 3,400 adult spring chinook at Drano Lake and 500 from the Klickitat River.

Washington biologists also predict weak spring chinook returns to the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis rivers in 2013.

In the Lewis, only 1,600 spring chinook are predicted to return. That compares to 1,800 in 2013 after a forecast of 2,700.

The numbers are even more bleak in the Kalama, where just 700 spring salmon are anticipated back. The return in 2012 was 600.

The forecast for the Cowlitz is not so bad, where a spring return of 5,500 is predicted, down from an actual return of 9,200 in 2012.

Only in Oregon’s Willamette River is even a mediocre spring run forecast.

The prediction is for 59,800 spring chinook back, including 2,100 jacks. That would compare with 65,100 spring chinook in 2012.