The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet at 11 a.m. Friday, May 4, in a telephone conference call to consider proposed spring Chinook salmon seasons.
This year the preseason expectation is for 27,700 Chinook to cross Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River in southeastern Washington - the last of eight federal dams the fish must pass before reaching Idaho. That's fewer than the 2006 run of 32,664.
But not all those fish will be available to anglers.
Nearly 11,000 of them are wild fish that must be left in the river, and nearly 17,000 are hatchery fish, most of them marked. The Rapid River hatchery near Riggins needs about 2,500 Chinook and the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery near Orofino needs about 1,200 fish for broodstock for the next generation of salmon.
Both met their goal last year.
The number of fish available to anglers this year would be based on the numbers returning beyond the needs of hatcheries, and that surplus would be split between tribal and nontribal fisheries.
The 2007 run has just begun to reach Lower Granite with 314 adult Chinook salmon counted as of April 29. The 10-year average at Lower Granite for this date is 13,133 fish. The run appears to be late, but preliminary indications from counts at Bonneville Dam, the first dam on the lower Columbia River, are that returns over Lower Granite will meet the forecast number.
Last year, 10,706 adult Chinook were trapped at Idaho hatcheries, and anglers caught 5,701 fish, and of those they kept 3,610. Based on pre-season projections, however, fewer spring Chinook hatchery returns are expected to be available for nontribal anglers in 2007. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will update these projections as dam counts and tagging data become available.