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Banner Year Forecast For 2009 Columbia Basin Salmon

2009 is shaping up to be another banner year for salmon returns to the Columbia and Snake River basins.  The rivers and their tributaries should be brimming with fish if pre-season forecasts come true.  Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Fisheries managers forecast future salmon runs by counting “jacks.”  Not like the children’s game.  “Jacks” in this case are over-eager salmon who return to spawn a year before their classmates. 

That predictor suggests Columbia basin spring Chinook, summer Chinook and upriver sockeye runs will be among the best in decades. 

Washington Fish and Wildlife’s Cindy LeFleur says a bumper run of those big spring Chinook bodes especially well for commercial, sport and tribal fishers.

Cindy LeFleur: “They’re the first fish of the year.  They’re excellent tasting and they get the high dollar in the commercial (market). It’s a big deal.”

LeFleur says she understands it’s confusing to hear some salmon runs are doing so well, while others nearby do poorly.   She explains the 2009 spawning class was born in a good water year and also benefited from favorable ocean conditions.