All eyes will be on the many local rivers that open for fishing this Saturday, June 1, and the early word for chinook is good.
The Cascade River and Skagit River from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to Marblemount Bridge opens for hatchery chinook Saturday (June 1).
“I heard a couple hundred chinook were already at Marblemount Hatchery (on Cascade River), and the 2,800 hatchery fish forecast this year is the highest since we’ve had this fishery,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
Barkdull says most of those fish hadn’t come in recently, and arrived about a week and a half ago when the water came up. That doesn’t necessarily mean more had migrated upstream in the meantime, and the hatchery crews were busy on Wednesday seeing if additional fish had arrived.
Water conditions will also play a big role in how the river fisheries fare.
“The cool weather right now has the water way down from where it was, but the tradeoff is Ross dam filled much faster than they had anticipated and because of that Seattle City Light had to increase the amount of discharge at the dams,” Barkdull said. “Water levels are going to run an extra 900 cfs (cubic feet per second) above and beyond what they had originally planned. I think by Saturday if it warms up it will be high. It’s kind of what happens this time of the year so when it’s cool and rainy it will go down, but if gets hot it will come up.”
With that said Barkdull says usually the opening day fishing in the Cascade is pretty good in the morning, and then it starts to tail off from there.
The Skykomish River also opens for hatchery chinook this Saturday (June 1), and it too should be decent on opening day.
“We’ve already got 35 chinook at the Wallace (Hatchery) through MondayMay 27, and I looked back at data over the last four years and didn’t see any fish reported during this same time period,” said Steve Thiesfeld, a state Fish and Wildlife salmon manager.
Summer steelhead fishing off beaches on the west side of Whidbey Island was some of the best anglers had seen in a few years.
“A good number of summer-run were caught off Whidbey Island, and it was pretty good and some of the best we’ve seen a in a few years,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood. “That is a good indicator of what we might see in the rivers. I expect a lot of guys will be up at Reiter chasing the steelhead and the salmon below as well.”
Those migrating summer steelhead are likely already moving up Puget Sound rivers that open Saturday including the Skykomish (as well as the popular Reiter Ponds area) and Snoqualmie.
Chamberlain says guide Nick Petosa was out Tuesday running around on the upper river and saw a fair number of summer runs up there.
Many other statewide rivers open Saturday, and anglers should check the regulation pamphlet for specific rules and what sections are open or closed.
(Photo courtesy of Gerald Chew of Mercer Island)