It has been one spectacular year for pink salmon and now all the rivers are literally jam packed with humpies all up and down the Puget Sound region.
“We’ve got freaking pinks everywhere and it is ridiculous,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “They are still in the rivers, but the angler effort has really died off, and everyone is “humpied out.” It has been humpy city for a long time, and it will be a big, big escapement.”
That lead to my next question to Barkdull, which was so how is the coho return and fishing going?
“There are coho up and down the Skagit, but they’re hard to get at with all the humpies still around,” Barkdull said. “The coho are flying through the river on these water flows.”
“We’ve got more coho back to the hatchery at Marblemount than we normally have at this time of the year,” Barkdull said. “The Baker facility also has more coho than we’ve had in years, which leads me to believe there are few (a little sarcasm noted in Barkdull’s voice) coho around. They have gotten that far and are all through the river system. We have humpies as far up as in the Lyman-Hamilton areas, and a pile of them in every other stream.”
“The humpie situation is the same on the Nooksack for what it is worth and we will have an escapement record this year,” Barkdull said. “We’re still on a trajectory to have quarter million humpies on the Nooksack, and it’s the same old story for the Skagit as the pinks are in every trickle of water they can get into basically.”
The Skagit has been chocolate milk color for the last month and a half, and looked horrible all summer but that hasn’t slowed down the fish catches especially when you have millions of pinks clogging up the river.
“Water conditions have been terrible on Skagit, and one of the worst fishing conditions I’ve seen and can remember,” Barkdull said. “This warm weather is conducive to melting glacier on the Skagit, Suiattle, Cascade, the Baker tributaries and Thunder Arm. The snow level did fall a little bit (on Tuesday night) with some white stuff on the (northern Cascade) peaks.”
The Samish also has a whole bunch of kings at the fish hatchery already, and Barkdull who hasn’t been to the river itself doesn’t have any reason to believe the forecast was off the mark.
“I was maybe guessing a little high on the Samish forecast, and now I think I guessed low but we’ll see,” Barkdull said.