I wrote earlier about how the severe drought in California had scientists and anglers alike worried about salmon returns. Several rivers are at record low levels, and have been closed to fishing. The worry is that the fish won’t be able to get upstream to spawn. The situation puts future runs at risk. However, estimated returns for 2014 are expected to be very good.

Up the coast in Washington state, the forecasted salmon return is equally rosy. In fact, the first spring chinook salmon have already arrived on the Cowlitz River. Dates for a sportfishing season have been announced, and the season is already underway. You’ll find the details of when and where you can salmon fish in this Mark Yuasa post for The Seattle Times.

chinook_springJoe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist reported the first spring chinook of the year returned to Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery on Wednesday (Feb. 26), which comes on the heels of what is expected to be a huge return to the Columbia River.

Washington and Oregon fisheries managers in late January agreed on Columbia River hatchery spring chinook fishing seasons with anglers getting 36 days below Bonneville Dam and 55 days above Bonneville.

The seasons came to light on the heels of a 2014 upriver Columbia River spring chinook prediction of 308,000 compared to a forecast last year of 141,400 and an actual return of 123,100. If the run actually pans out then it would be the fifth-largest return since 1980.

Photos: Lance Fisher (top), The Seattle Times (above)