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2016 Columbia River Spring Chinook Forecast

A nice columbia river spring chinook being held by a happy fisherman.

I started getting data on the 2016 Columbia River Spring Chinook return a couple days ago and I know that it is only December, but just the suggestion of Spring Chinook gets the finer parts of my DNA hopping! My friend Al Thomas reported on this first in the Columbian and he’s done a nice job of breaking everything out if you’d like to read more. I want to get to what this means for those of you looking for guided fishing on the Columbia and what you might be able to expect when heading out for the finest tasting fish on the planet.

So 188,000 is the number, but what does this mean anyway? 188,000 Columbia River Spring Chinook is a decent enough number to provide us with good fishing. We’ve seen returns below 100k and we’ve seen numbers like that from 2015 that came in at 280k. Ultimately there are a lot of variables beyond the number of returning fish that go into making good fishing as we’ve seen huge returns that didn’t provide good fishing and poor returns that we did really well on. The bottom like in we have plenty of fish returning and it should provide us with a short, but sweet opportunity to boat a bunch of these purple backed Spring Chinook.

In addition to the 188k returning to the Columbia, the Cowlitz River is expected to go big this year with around 25k headed back and I couldn’t be more excited about this. In fact, this may be the best Spring Chinook fishing of the year and we’ll be all over it like a fat guy on a corn dog. In addition to the Cowlitz, the Kalama looks to have just shy of 5000 returning Springers and the Lewis will see some fish back, but the Lewis is a disaster and that’s another story. Of course these returns provide us with significant opportunity when fishing the Columbia River and will likely drive a lot of our efforts lower into the Columbia River.

We will start running trips around the 19th of March this year, but remember the Columbia quota could be caught by the end of the first week of April. And while projected closures haven’t lined up with when we’ve actually used up our quota, the middle of April will be the end of it no matter what.

If you’re looking to get out, send me an email and I’ll be happy to get you taken care of.