Outdoors Roundup - 2021 Columbia River Forecasts
John Kruse, December 26, 2020
There is a lot of news to cover as we roll into the new year covering everything from salmon forecasts to adjusted sportsmen’s show schedules to winter recreation in our state parks.
COLUMBIA RIVER FISH FORECAST – The Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife have issued their joint forecast for fish returning up the Columbia River in 2021. The good news is a number of projected runs are better than last year. Lower Columbia tributaries like the Cowlitz, Kalama and Lewis are expected to see higher numbers of Spring Chinook coming back. However, the overall return for springers past Bonneville Dam (and all the tributaries beyond) is again troubling with only 75,00 fish predicted to come back. This would be the second lowest year since 1999 for spring Chinook salmon.
As spring turns to summer the Chinook forecasts do get better. Nearly 78,000 summer Chinook are expected to head towards the Upper Columbia, which is nearly 20 percent over last year’s run. We don’t have hard numbers for fall bright Chinook but biologists expect continued improvement there as well. Coho salmon should see a banner year of young jacks returning, the highest number since 1977.
On the other hand, the Sockeye return is only expected to be around 156,000 with only 700 heading up the Snake River. This is less than half the number that returned last year up the Columbia. Then again, sockeye salmon forecasts have been notoriously inaccurate in recent years and most of the time Columbia River sockeye numbers have been stronger than forecast.
Finally, there’s the American shad. Six million came back last year and another strong run is expected for 2021. If you are just looking for a fun day of casting and catching one to four-pound, scrappy fighting fish, consider a trip to the Columbia River below Bonneville or the John Day Dam between late May and mid-July to catch a whole bunch of shad and while you can fish from a boat, bank angling works just fine too.
FIRST DAY HIKES – Normally, Washington State Parks hosts a number of guided “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day but because of Covid-19 restrictions your First Day Hike for 2021 will be a do-it-yourself affair. On the bright side, no Discover Pass is needed to enter any of Washington’s State Parks on New Years Day and Martin Luther King Day (January 18th) is a free day for day use activities in Washington State Parks as well.
If you decide to go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at one of the state parks that has warming huts be sure to check in advance to see whether those huts are open. Covid-19 restrictions has forced the closure of several this winter.
SPORTSMANS SHOW SCHEDULES – Sportsmen’s show season came to a crashing end last March as events were banned with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic and things are not much better right now. With that in mind, all of the sportsmen’s shows scheduled for January have been postponed. Here’s a current line-up of shows that producers are hoping to put on in the first quarter of 2021:
February 19 – 21 Central Washington Sportsmen’s Show Yakima Sun Dome
February 26 – 28 Tri-Cities Sportsmen’s Show Hapo Center in Pasco
March 4 -7 Tacoma RV Show Tacoma Dome
March 17 – 21 Washington Sportsmen’s Show Event Center in Puyallup
March 18 – 21 Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show Spokane Fair & Expo
March 24 – 28 Pacific NW Sportsmen’s Show
& Portland Boat Show Expo Center, Portland
CANCELLED Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen’s Show Town Toyota Center
You can find out more details about these shows at www.shuylerproductions.com, www.otshows.com and www.inwc.org/big-horn-show . I’ll also keep you posted on the status of these shows as we get closer to each specific event.
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
1. Jill Roth with a Columbia River fall Chinook salmon – courtesy Team Takedown Guide Service