A new forecast halving the expected return of spring chinook to the Columbia River and its tributaries led Washington to close Snake River salmon fishing earlier this week. The spring chinook return to the entire Columbia-Snake River Basin this season was predicted to be 160,800. It's now been cut to 83,000 and recreational fishing has been closed above and below Bonneville Dam near Portland. Upstream in Idaho, the chinook fishery has also been cancelled. And steelhead aren't faring much better, with just 825 wild adult B-runs expected to pass through the lower Snake River in 2017. Historically, Snake steelhead numbered 1 million fish, with the most recent 10-year average at 30,982.

Despite the meager start and the downgraded forecast, some salmon managers contend that large numbers of fish are stalled in a now booming lower Columbia River and could save the run with an upriver surge as soon as flows drop.

"The recreational fishery, the test fisheries, all the indices say there is fish down there except for (fish counts at) Bonneville. Until the Bonneville counts come up it's a disastrous run," Ron Roler of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told the Lewiston Morning Tribune.

Read More