Released ahead of Tuesday’s state fisheries preseason salmon forecast meeting is a relatively strong Columbia fall chinook forecast of 951,300, which would be the fourth largest on record dating to 1938.

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Early salmon season forecasts are being disclosed, and anglers could likely find promising chinook fishing off the coast and Columbia River this summer and fall.

Released ahead of Tuesday’s state fisheries preseason salmon forecast meeting is a relatively strong Columbia fall chinook forecast of 951,300, which would be the fourth largest on record dating to 1938.

“It should be really good for fall chinook, and the only thing that can still throw a wrench on the prediction was how the fish fared in the ocean,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife.

The bulk of the forecast is made up of 589,000 upriver bright chinook, which is the most prized sport fish to catch in summer and fall.

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The lower river hatchery forecast of 133,700 and wild stock of 22,200 is well above the 10-year average.

“One early indicator we can base how the fish are doing survival wise is the winter troll fishery in southeast Alaska, and they’ve been doing really well,” Hymer said. “Only a small percentage of the troll fishery catch are Alaskan wild fish. The rest are out-of-state chinook stocks like fish from our region that migrate to the area.”

Last year’s actual return of 1.3 million-plus Columbia fall chinook — 900,200 was forecast — was the largest on record, and returns the past two years have beaten expectations.

Early spring chinook have already started to appear in sport catches on Lower Columbia River below I-5.

The forecast is 188,800 upriver-bound Columbia adult spring chinook, compared to last year’s forecast of 232,500 (actual return was 289,000). If it comes back as forecast, it would rank as the ninth-largest dating to 1990.

Coho continue to struggle everywhere, and that includes a forecast of 549,200 coho expected to arrive off Washington-Oregon coast, compared to a forecast of 1,015,000 last year and an actual return of 322,100.

“Those coho numbers aren’t good, bottom line, and we’re on the thin side, but that figure isn’t the end of the world,” said Doug Milward, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager.

A release on Northwest Treaty Tribes website (http://nwtreatytribes.org/2016-salmon-forecasts-coho-looks-really-bad/) indicates Puget Sound coho returns look bleak. Tribal fishery officials are pointing the finger at the lasting impact of the “Blob” – a large mass of warm water in the ocean that has affected fish growth and survival due to a lack of nutrients.

Joe Peters, a Squaxin Island Tribe natural resources representative, said only 1,800 coho originating from their net pens are forecast to return compared to an annual average of more than 25,000 from 1.8 million released.

A Lake Washington sockeye fishery is not looking good as has been the case for a number of years. It does not appear that preseason sockeye forecast will be strong enough to support a fishery this summer.

Last summer, the in-season count of Lake Washington sockeye at the Ballard Locks fish ladder was 33,923 fish — well short of the preseason forecast of 164,595.

Wild sockeye spawning numbers have fluctuated wildly since 1991 with a high of 230,000 in 1996 (when more than half a million returned) to a low of 9,400 in 2009. In 2014 only 10,400 made it back to spawn.

One of the key factors to poor sockeye runs is heavy predation in the lake, and studies are necessary to determine exactly what is happening to them. Sport-fishing advocates are pressing the state legislature for additional funding.

Very little is known about young sockeye (legally introduced in 1935) once they migrate downstream into the lake and migrate out to sea.

In 2013, under good water conditions, the Cedar had a record 68 million fry enter the lake, the result of an unusually successful natural spawning that accounted for 58 million or 82 percent of the fry. These fish will be returning to the lake as 3-year-old adults this summer.

The last time a sport and tribal fishery occurred in Lake Washington was 2006, when 453,543 sockeye returned.

More salmon forecasts will come to light when state Fish and Wildlife hosts a public meeting Tuesday in Olympia. Seasons will be finalized April 8-14.

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