Salmon fishing won’t be ‘lights out’

Also, thanks to the projected return of 1.55 million chinook salmon bound for the Sacramento and Klamath rivers, chinook fishing on the central and southern coast looks especially promising for both recreational and commercial fishermen.

On the other hand, the Willamette River run of spring chinook salmon — already well under way in the Portland area — is expected to total about 60,000 fish this year, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists. That’s down about 5,000 fish from the run observed last year.

Of the total spring chinook run, “somewhere around 36,000 or so” should make it through the fish passage at Willamette Falls, said Jeff Ziller, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist in Springfield.

He said that means “an OK run” in the upper Willamette watershed.

“That’s certainly enough to provide a decent fishery in all the locations up here — the South Santiam, the North Santiam, the McKenzie and the Middle Fork Willamette. But it’s not going to be lights-out fishing, though, I wouldn’t think.”

Ziller is more optimistic about the local outlook for the spring chinook’s smaller cousin, summer steelhead. Early steelhead counts at Willamette Falls have been good and another run of 20,000 to 30,000 steelhead is expected, he said. Good numbers of fish are already being caught in the South Santiam River.

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