State Fish and Wildlife released salmon forecasts Friday (March 1), and the big news is the 6.2-million forecast of pink salmon returning to Puget Sound this summer.
This includes places like the Nisqually River where 764,000 pinks are expected, and a forecast didn’t even exist from them just two two years ago. Fisheries biologists are finding that the resilient pinks are showing up in places as far south as the Columbia River.
Other pink forecasts include the Puyallup river system, 1.24-million; Green, which spills out into Elliott Bay, 1.3-million; Skagit, 1.23-million; Snohomish, 988,621; Nooksack, 154,075; and Stillaguamish, 409,700.
The height of the pink fishery usually occurs at the end of July through August. This is an excellent fishery in that pinks tend the hug the marine shoreline making them easily accessible to bank anglers as well.
Another 8.9-million pinks headed to the Fraser River in southern British Columbia, and will boost catches in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands.
Opportunities for other salmon like chinook and coho also look decent in Puget Sound.
A total of 264,000 chinook are forecast in Puget Sound, a figure similar to last year that generated good summer fishing for abundant hatchery-stocks in the Strait and Puget Sound.
Add to that another robust Puget Sound coho forecast of 882,134 (732,363 last year), and anglers should see good fishing for them too. Coho numbers look especially good in the Skagit River system where 153,300 are forecast (63,232 last year) and Snohomish River system, 275,279 (154,688).
While the Baker Lake sockeye forecast of 21,557 will be down from last year’s prediction of 35,366, Pattillo says it should be enough to consider some kind of sport fisheries in Baker Lake and the Skagit River. The Lake Washington forecast of 97,000 is well below the minimum goal of 350,000 needed before any fisheries are considered.
One fishing rule change on the table is to lower the minimum size limit for chinook from 22- to 20-inches in Puget Sound sport fisheries.
On the coast, fisheries managers are predicting for the second year in a row a strong return of wild coho in Queets and Quillayute rivers. The Grays Harbor chinook return is 24,267 (29,076 last year), and coho return of 196,777 (150,209).
State Fish and Wildlife will draft three ocean salmon fishing options March 6-11 at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma.
Preliminary drafts of possible salmon-fishing seasons for the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound will be made March 15 at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia; and March 27 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 20610 44th Avenue W. in Lynnwood.
Here is a link to my recent story on what fisheries managers are also predicting to be a very good Columbia River fall chinook return, http://seattletimes.com/html/othersports/2020421554_outn24.html
Final seasons will be set April 6-11. For a list of meetings, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.
(Photos by Mark Yuasa.)