SALMON FISHING — If the chinook salmon returns for 2012 holds up to the early forecast, anglers in Idaho could enjoy the third best run in more than 30 years.
The forecast suggests a return that’s a little more robust than last year, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries bureau chief Ed Schriever told the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Thursday.
The fish are still out in the Pacific Ocean, but the forecast for numbers of returning fish are similar to 2002 and 2010, he said. If the run materializes as forecast, the numbers heading for Idaho look even better – exceeded only by 2001 and 2010.
Northwest fish managers estimate that more than 314,000 chinook bound for waters upstream of Bonneville Dam will enter the Columbia River this year – last year the number was about 221,000.
Of those, 129,000 hatchery fish and 39,000 wild fish are predicted to head up the Snake River to Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Last year’s actual return was 96,300 hatchery fish and 31,600 wild fish.
Idaho fish managers estimate that 83,600 of the hatchery fish that cross Lower Granite Dam are bound for Idaho waters.
Last year, more than 33,000 returned to Salmon River hatcheries and about 13,000 returned to Clearwater hatcheries.
It’s too soon to tell just how many fish will actually show up, and what any fishing seasons might look like. Idaho fisheries managers expect to present proposed chinook fishing seasons in the Clearwater, Snake, lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers to the Fish and Game Commission in March.
In past years, chinook seasons have opened in late April.