The first of many salmon forecasts were released this morning (Tuesday, Feb. 7), and while it’s just a quick glance of what’s to come it has many getting excited about summer fishing.
The Oregon Production Index (OPI) for coho ocean abundance looks somewhat better than last year’s forecast but down from the actual return.
The grand total coho return is 632,700 expected back this year compared to 624,500 forecast last year (556,000 in 2010) and an actual return of 753,900 (818,100 in 2010).
“My interpretation of the (OPI) forecast is it looks like status quo from the 2011 coho fishery, which wasn’t a bad thing,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and member of state Fish and Wildlife sportfishing advisory board.
“Obviously it isn’t as robust as some years in the past decade, but healthy enough to provide a good season,” Floor said.”
The Columbia River early coho stock forecast this year is 229,800 compared to a 216,000 forecast last year and an actual return of 288,500.
The Columbia River late coho stock forecast this year is 87,400 compared to a 146,500 forecast last year and an actual return of 141,200.
“The sport fishery (including the highly popular Buoy-10 fishery at the Columbia River mouth) relies heavily on the early stock component, which peaks in the (Columbia River) around Labor Day, and the late timed run peaks around the first week of October,” Floor said. “By then for the most part everyone has gone home and isn’t fishing.”
Add another coastal subtotal of 24,500 compared to 12,600 and an actual return of 12,600.
The Oregon coastal coho numbers for rivers is 262,400 (221,600 forecast last year and an actual return of 289,800).
The Oregon coastal coho numbers for lakes is 28,600 (27,800 forecast last year and an actual return of 21,800).
While the king fishery in the ocean between Neah Bay and Ilwaco was good last summer, the coho was surprising somewhat less than stellar. In fact more anglers were disappointed in the performance of the fishery than those that were happy about it.
“Yes, the coho were around last summer, but they very scattered and it wasn’t remembered as a slam dunk coho year, and it might be more of the same in 2012,” Floor said.
Floor says the OPI forecasts are just the cornerstone of the forecasts, and place like Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor and other northern coastal coho stocks will be all part of the equation that decides what type of fishery we’ll see this summer and fall.
State Fish and Wildlife will unveil their forecasts 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 28 at a public meeting in the General Administration Building Auditorium, 11th Avenue and Columbia Street in Olympia.
Final seasons will be made April 1-6 in Seattle.
2012 North of Falcon Salmon Preseason Planning Meeting Schedule
Tuesday, February 28, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Forecast Presentations & Preliminary Fisheries discussion at WDFW Offices, Olympia in Natural Resources Building, Room 172.
March 2-7, Pacific Fishery Management Council Ocean Salmon Fishery proposals developed at Doubletree Hotel Sacramento, California, 2001 Point West Way 95815.
Monday, March 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., North of Falcon Meeting 1 to Develop Inside Fishery proposals matching ocean proposals at WDFW Offices in Olympia at the Natural Resources Building, Room 172.
Tuesday, March 13, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Coastal Regional Public Meeting Willapa Bay fishery discussion at the Raymond Elks Lodge – 326 3rd St. in Raymond.
Wednesday, March 14, Columbia River Public Meeting commercial & sport fishery discussions in Vancouver, Washington, site and time TBA.
Thursday, March 15, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Puget Sound salmon fisheries discussion at City Hall Council Chamber, 321 E. 5th Street in Port Angeles.
Tuesday, March 20, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Coastal Regional Public Meeting at Grays Harbor Montesano City Hall, time TBA.
Wednesday, March 28, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., North of Falcon Meeting 2 define preferred ocean and inside salmon seasons & regulations at Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Ave. West.
Friday, March 30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Coastal Regional Final public discussion of Willapa Bay & Grays Harbor salmon seasons at WDFW Offices in Olympia at Natural Resources Building, Room 172.
Sunday to Friday, April 1-6, all-day, Pacific Fishery Management Council all ocean and inside salmon fisheries finalized at Seattle Sheraton Hotel, 1400 Sixth Ave.