The Washington Outdoor Report - week of Dec. 26

Fish forecast and first day hikes

Winter fun at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Courtesy Washington State Parks

A big salmon coming to the boat. Courtesy Mack’s Lure
For our final edition of the year, we’ll share the projected forecasts for Columbia River salmon in 2022 as well as some opportunities to go on ranger led excursions on New Year’s Day at our state parks
Columbia River 
salmon forecasts
During an online meeting held by the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association this month, fish biologists and managers from both Washington and Oregon shared the 2022 Columbia River salmon forecasts.  Fortunately, when it comes to spring Chinook salmon, things are looking better than last year and in the words of one biologist “we may have turned the corner” from the low returns we have been seeing in recent years.
The upriver spring Chinook forecast is predicted to be 123,000 fish, the highest number of salmon we’ve seen since 2016 and well over the 92,000 Chinook that came back last year.  Popular Columbia Gorge fisheries at the Wind River and Drano Lake are expected to be better than last year while the Klickitat River return is forecast to be similar to last spring (1800 fish). 
The sockeye salmon run is also projected to be better than last year’s run of 152,000 fish.  With 199,000 sockeye expected anglers should have some good opportunities on the Upper Columbia River between Wenatchee and Brewster.  However, the Lake Wenatchee forecast is not as rosy.  Biologists do not believe they will meet the escapement goal of 23,000 sockeye, which means a Lake Wenatchee salmon fishery is not likely.  Having said that, biologists seem to underestimate sockeye returns on a regular basis so don’t give up on Lake Wenatchee yet.
The Upper Columbia summer Chinook run is forecast at 57,500 fish, similar to last year’s return.    Meanwhile, the coho run should be very good.  That’s because the number of jack (young) salmon counted last year was the 6th highest in 45 years, which bodes well for the adult return in 2022.
First day hikes
Start the new year off right with a hike at one of our Washington State Parks.  First Day Hikes have become a wonderful tradition at parks across the nation in recent years and on January 1st 40 state parks in the Evergreen State will be offering this opportunity.  
In Central and Eastern Washington there are several guided events taking place to include:
• A 5 ½ - mile ranger led hike on the Columbia Plateau Trail starting from Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River.
• A quarter mile staff led walk along a paved path at Palouse Falls State Park where you’ll get a chance to not only see the falls but also learn some interesting geological information
• Take your dog on a stroll at Sacajawea State Park along the Columbia River in Pasco.
• Put on your cross-country skis for a 2.5-mile jaunt in the Nordic Area at Mount Spokane State Park or strap on your snowshoes for a 2.6-mile hike along the lower part of Mount Carson where you’ll get a chance to visit the Smith Gap Warming Hut.
• Head to Steamboat Rock State Park and hike 3 miles up Northrup Canyon to an old homestead and back learning about the wildlife and the area along the way. 
• A one-mile ranger led hike from Alta Lake State Park with a 700-foot elevation gain that will burn some calories.
• A 1.8-mile hike led by Ranger Kruse (no relation) along the Little Bear Trail at Lake Chelan State Park.
• Learn about the geological and cultural history of the Wenatchee Valley during a 1.5-mile interpretive walk at Lincoln Rock State Park north of East Wenatchee. 
• Or enjoy a guided snowshoe excursion at Lake Wenatchee State Park.  If you don’t have your own snowshoes don’t worry, rentals are available.
You will want to make reservations in advance to participate in most of these guided First Day Hikes.  You can find out more information, to include exact meeting locations and departure times, at


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