The 2018 Columbia River Spring Chinook Forecast is out and it appears that we’re much improved over last year’s actual returns. Columbia River fishing managers are expecting 166,700 Spring Chnook to be headed East of Bonneville Dam. Combine this number with projections for the Willamette at 53,820 and Cowlitz Rivers and we’re looking at 220,520 fish that will enter the Columbia River. Expect this total number to be higher when Cowlitz River Spring Chinook are included in the totals, but as of yet, I don’t have those numbers.
Upriver Columbia River numbers are on par with last year’s projections, but way ahead of the actual returns of 115,822 fish. Of course these are all good signs as we climb out of what many would consider the bottom of the most recent cycle.
As many of you know, water flows always have a lot to do with how good a season is. Last year’s high flows really slowed things down early on and it really wasn’t until we got back on the water after the initial closure that fishing was as good and consistent as I’d like to see. It will be interesting to see how this year’s snow pack or lack there of, affects the 2018 season.
I will begin fishing for Columbia River Spring Chinook the last week of March and I expect, once the seasons are finally set, that the Columbia will remain open through April 8. Of course my guides and I will move right into the Willamette and Cowlitz Rivers once the Columbia is shut down. I’ll update this post once seasons are set.