Big runs of salmon predicted

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Fishing Notebook:

By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter

Pacific NW - This season's coastal ocean and Columbia River salmon fisheries kept anglers busy from spring to fall, and the outlook for next year is equally as appealing.

"It looks like we'll have a pretty good return of fall chinook next year, and the positive note is coho returns should be better than last year, but not as good as coho runs in 2001," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

The total Columbia River fall chinook return is predicted to be above the recent yearly average of 335,000.

The Lower Columbia hatchery chinook stock is predicted to be above average. The recent 10-year average is 55,000.

The Lower Columbia wild chinook stock should be similar to runs of the early to mid-1990s, which averaged about 13,000.

The Bonneville Pool hatchery chinook run will be similar to the large return last year of more than 160,000 fish.

The upriver bright chinook return is expected to be above the average of 142,000, but likely less than this season's run of almost 300,000. The mid-Columbia bright chinook stock preseason estimate should be average.

The Columbia River coho run should be greater than this year's return of 500,000.

The Columbia River spring chinook returns will be down from last year's run of 300,000 fish.

"The final (spring chinook) estimate isn't complete, but we are looking for a run of around 150,000, and that is considered a decent return of fish," Hymer said.

Top spots of the week

1. Dungeness crabs in Hood Canal: "There are a lot of legal sized-crab in the southern canal, and the preferred depth at this time of the year to find them is about 50 feet," said Tony Floor, a state Fish and Wildlife spokesman.

2. Steelhead and salmon in Puget Sound and Hood Canal estuaries and rivers: "The water level is coming up some from the rain, but there are a ton of chums and a lot of fresh silvers in the (Skagit) river," said Kim Weymouth at Skagit Fly Anglers in Mount Vernon.

Other rivers starting to see more steelhead in the catch are Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Nooksack, Snohomish, Stillaguamish and Green.

A majority of the chums are starting to turn dark in color as they near spawning, but diehards should try the Skokomish River, Hoodsport shoreline, the beaches just south of Potlatch State Park, and estuaries of Chico, Kennedy, Perry and Johns creeks.

2. Squid off Puget Sound piers: Really good at night off piers 62 or 86 in Elliott Bay. The Edmonds Pier is off and on, and Des Moines pier is a better choice.

3. Trout and warm-water fish in westside lakes: Locally, Pass Lake near Deception Pass and Lone Lake on Whidbey Island are the favorites for trout.

Lake Washington remains good for cutthroat, and from Leschi south to Renton continues to be good for late-season perch. Silver Lake near Castle Rock is fair to good for crappie. Kress Lake near Kalama was planted with 77 adult steelhead.

Lakes last week receiving rainbow trout averaging a half-a-pound apiece are: Icehouse near the Bridge of Gods, 2,500 fish; Little Ash near Stevenson, 2,500; Kidney near North Bonneville, 3,000; Klineline in Hazel Dell, 3,000; and Lacamas in Camas, 5,000. Battleground Lake will get a plant of 3,000 trout and 100 steelhead next week.

4. Steelhead and salmon in coastal rivers: "On Sunday, we got six steelhead on the Humptulips, and the Wynoochee is kicking out some silvers and steelhead, but with the rain all the rivers are pretty muddy," said Scott Barber, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "There are bunch of silvers and dogs (chum) in the Satsop, and the Wishkah was hot for silvers."

On North Coast, "the Calawah and Soleduck are in good fishing condition and they're giving up some steelhead," said Bob Gooding, owner of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks. "The Hoh and Bogachiel are unfishable, but were decent for steelhead before the rain."

Other good northern coastal rivers for steelhead are Queets, Lower Quinault, Sooes, Pysht, Lyre and Hoko.

5. Smelt at Cornet Bay pier on North Whidbey Island: "Jigging has been quite good, and I talked to a couple of people who filled their buckets on the flood tide," said Tuuliki Woods at the Deception Pass Marina.

Word on waterfowl hunting

Biologists indicate more ducks are on the move with the recent stormy weather, and hunting should be heating up from the Washington-B.C. border down to Southwest Washington.

The recent state Fish and Wildlife aerial survey last Thursday revealed about 270,560 were counted in the Puget Sound region. That total count represents a 14 percent increase from last year's comparable flight data.

Other fishing spots

Everett pier: Very good for herring.

Central Puget Sound: Open for salmon catch and release through Sunday, then reopens for catch and keep on Monday.

Southcentral Puget Sound: Fair for blackmouth in Tacoma area.

West Whidbey Island: Steelheading off Bush and Lagoon points remains a bust.

Kalama River: Fair for steelhead.

Cowlitz River: Fair to good for steelhead from Blue Creek downstream, and took boat anglers about 2.7 hours of fishing to catch a fish. Lake Scanewa is good for coho bank and boat fishing.

Washougal River: Fair for steelhead.

Columbia River: Fishing at Ringold produced about one steelhead for every 2.9 boat rods. Fair bank fishing for sturgeon fishing below Bonneville Dam.

Snake and Clearwater rivers: Fair to good for steelhead.

Methow River: Good for steelhead from Carlton to Twisp.

Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company


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