An early forecast by fisheries managers in Idaho indicates a poor outlook for the upcoming chinook salmon season.
A group of federal, state and tribal fisheries managers predicts just over 48,000 spring chinook will return to the mouth of the Snake River, the Lewiston Tribune reported .
Last year’s forecast had expected a return of 107,400 chinook, but just 67,595 showed up. This year’s forecast by the Technical Advisory Committee includes a predicted return of 8,200 wild spring chinook and just fewer than 40,000 hatchery fish.
The prediction could be reminiscent of the return of springers in 2017, when fishing was shut down on the Clearwater River after the smaller return of fish than expected, according to Joe DuPont with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
DuPont said he expects the return of about 9,800 hatchery chinook bound for hatcheries on the Clearwater River. He said more than half of those will be needed for hatchery spawning.
The state typically builds in a buffer before allocating how many chinook can be caught by anglers. The goal is to ensure enough fish return to hatcheries.
DuPont said only about 2,000 chinook might be available for anglers, according to early calculations. Tribal and sport anglers would split the number of chinook available.
Public meetings are planned in February at several locations to share more detailed information and take comments from anglers.