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The number of salmon passing Bonneville Dam this week hasn't been seen in 70 years.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported 68,000 Chinook salmon passed through the dam on Sept. 9.
Fish have been counted at Bonneville Dam since it began operations in 1938. The previous highest number on record for a single day was around 44,500 on Sept. 8, 1942.
The fish count began increasing in mid-August this year. By Aug. 27 the numbers jumped to more than 11,000, said Ben Hausmann, senior fish biologist at Bonneville Dam.
The record was first broken on Sept. 7, when nearly 53,000 Chinook were counted. Two days later, that number increased by another 15,000.
As a result, Oregon and Washington fishery managers have decided anglers may now keep two fall Chinook per day.
The new rules adopted Thursday are effective Sept. 13 through Dec. 31. The daily bag limit will include two adult Chinook from the Warrior Rock line upstream to Bonneville Dam.
Salmon have distinct spawning patterns and the record number of fish is part of the fall migration. Biologists said they don't know how long it will go on, but they expect the large fish counts to continue through the weekend.
"We love watching the visitors' reactions when they first come around the corner and see the number of fish in the viewing windows," Hausmann said.
The preseason forecast for Chinook salmon returning to the Columbia River was 434,600 fish. That is now expected to be between 664,000 and 835,000 fish.