Forecast hints at good sockeye fishing in upper Columbia basin

Sockeye anglers might want to plan a trip to the upper Columbia River basin this year.

Early season forecasts from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife call for a return of more than 390,000 sockeye to two key tributaries.

The forecast for the Wenatchee River return is 106,700 sockeye. That is up compared to the 2014 forecast of 63,400 fish and slightly below the actual return of 118,500 fish.

For the Okanogan River, state fishery managers are calling for a run of 285,500 sockeye. That is slightly above the 2014 forecast of 282,500 fish, while the actual return was 523,700 fish.

If this year’s run exceeds the forecast as the actual runs did in 2014, by almost 54 percent, it could be a banner year for sockeye anglers.

This latest report also included forecasts for spring chinook runs for the Columbia River and some key tributaries. Here are the data (with the 2015 forecast, 2014 forecast and 2014 actual run):

These run reports and forecasts form the scientific basis on which the 2015 recreational salmon fishing seasons will be developed.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife will release all of the run information at a meeting March 2, the start of the season-setting process known as North of Falcon.

The month-and-a-half process will culminate April 10-16 at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Rohnert Park, California. There federal managers will finalize ocean fishing seasons, while state and tribal managers will conclude negotiations on inland salmon fisheries, including Puget Sound and the waters that feed into the Sound.