Now that we’ve looked at the obvious salmon return forecasts from last Tuesday’s state Fish and Wildlife meetings, here are some sleepers that just may surprise anglers.
“The Tulalip Bay area might be good for coho,” said Steve Thiesfeld, the state Fish and Wildlife recreational salmon manager.
The forecast for the Tulalip area is 46,578 compared to 14,898 last year. That is a big jump in numbers and could spurn good fishing during the summer.
In Hood Canal, the Quilcene coho forecast is 36,388 (22,137 last year) and pad that with a Quilcene net pen forecast of 6,467 (5,416) and you might see a good fishery in mid- to late-August.
In deep South Puget Sound, the Nisqually River coho forecast is 37,703 (7,886) and should produce some decent in-river fishing.
The grand total forecast for coho in Puget Sound is 981,216 (613,930). While the coho forecast looks great on paper what returns this summer and fall is yet to be seen.
Another note to remember is that often times these Puget Sound coho are notorious for being non-biters.
On the North Coast, the Quillayute River fall coho forecast is 59,233 compared to 39,779 last year. That will offer some good in-river fishing in the fall.
On southwest coast, the Chehalis and Satsop rivers might see some fair chum fishing with a forecast of 33,669 chums and a spawning goal of 21,000. That leaves about 12,669 on the table for harvest, and 6,335 goes to the non-treaty/treaty share.
Fisheries managers are predicting another robust return of 5.9-million pinks to return to Puget Sound this summer. While it is nothing like the record return in 2009 of 9.8-million (previous record was 7.4-million in 1963) it will definitely ignite some very good fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca clear into southern Puget Sound from around late July through August.
Brett Barkdull, the state Fish and Wildlife north regional biologist says it is possible that we could open Bellingham and Samish bays for pinks this summer.
Another debate that was discussed during the meeting Tuesday was the pink salmon daily bag limit going from four to six.
“The big question is can we go to six?” Thiesfeld said. “I think the standard (daily) catch rates of four will go back in there for now.”
Another sticking point at the meeting that was brought up by Thiesfeld occurred in the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Sekiu in summer of 2009 during the huge pink return.
“In 2009, we had a significant catch of unmarked chinook, and we don’t want to give them a pink bonus (anymore than the four daily limit) until they can tell them apart,” Thiesfeld said.
One other notable place outside of our region is the Sacramento River forecast for chinook which is 729,900 compared to 245,500 in 2010; 122,200 in 2009 and 54,600 in 2008. This area has been hard hit in recent years to the point where it was shutdown to sport and commercial fishing.
It is yet to be seen how fisheries managers carve out any seasons under the current forecast given the delicate situation at hand in Northern California.
The next discussion for salmon fishing seasons in Puget Sound is the North of Falcon meeting 9 a.m. March 15 at the General Administration Building, 210 11th Ave. S.W. in Olympia.
All West Coast salmon fishing seasons will be made April 9-14 at a meeting in San Mateo, Calif.
(Photos by Keith Robbins and Mark Yuasa)