Columbia River salmon finally running, but counts are low

Three weeks later than normal, Columbia River salmon are finally running. Well, swimming. Whatever. The fish left the Pacific Ocean at their usual time to enter the Columbia, which runs on the border of Oregon and Washington. Then they mysteriously decided to hang out in the 40 miles between Portland, Ore., and the fish ladder at Bonneville Dam, where wildlife managers count the population — the second year in a row they’ve been late. This year’s count is 35,796 salmon, and officials say it’s unlikely to reach the preseason estimate of 88,000. Fishing season was suspended in mid-April and may not reopen if the fish count is too low. “We watch (the fish count) daily — minute to minute,” says sportfishing exec Liz Hamilton. “We’re really concerned about the fish.” Aren’t we all.