Think there is little doubt that salmon returns throughout western Washington are down from expectations.
Looks like most Puget Sound chinook returns were 50 to70% of expectations. Pink returns with the exception of South Sound were below expectations - and who knows how many would have come back to the south Sound if conditions would have been better.
The Puget Sound resident coho to my eye looked to have been above average while the ocean fish have been well below expectations. Again pointing to a ocean problem. Started seeing maturing ocean coho in central Sound the first week of August with all signs indicating the run timing was more or less normal. The early returning ocean fish were smaller than those of the few years (3 to 7#) while some the later fish have been very niced sized and well conditioned (same for the later ocean chinook) indicating the at least part of the problem has pointed out by others was feeding conditions. Suspect that the coho returns will be more disappointing than the chinook.
Who knows about how the chums will be?
The lack of "shakers" (either coho or chinook) and coho Jacks is worrisome for next year.
Ah - the Mariners - they are as unfathonable as the salmon runs. Looks that will win about 10% more games than last year - a decent improvement - the same next season they will be a .500 club. Saxon has been all they could have hoped for. The injury to Dan Wilson was very costly and probably limited their chances to become a .500 club this year. With Felix the starting pitching may be adequate next season (assuming that Moyer can continue and Meche can achieve some consitency) though there looks to be major holes in the bull pen - Hopefully Nelson is gone and not sure which Guardado we'll see next year. However as with our fishing come spring we'll likely be optomistic that 2006 will be better than 2005.
Regarding the estuary fish - cutts and Dollies. The cuttrhoat fishing in North Sound has been pretty good with consistent catches some really nice sized fish. My catch rates have been about 2/3 of what they were a decade ago but suspect that has less to do with the numbers of the fish and more with the number of anglers who are sharing the fishing. It will be interesting to see what the folks from around the coast have to say about cutthroat abundances at the coastal cutthroat symposium at Port Townsend next week.
The bull trout/Dolly adult returns appear to be on parr with recent years (even up some with a strong year class of first time spawners) with continued numbers of exceptional sized fish. A little troublesome for the Skagit system appears to the decreased numbers of sub-adult Dollies - impacts from the 2003 floods?