2002 Salmon Forecasts
wednesday was the first meeting in the north of falcon process which sets the salmon seasons off the coast and inside puget sound. the worst news was for the coast, with hatchery coho returns to the columbia river decreasing by 80% from last years run, but the columbia chinook forecast is huge... but due to the low coho numbers, accessing those kings will be difficult due to coho impacts. the columbia hatchery fish are what drive offshore fishing due to the dilution factor, which allows less impact on oregon coast natural stocks and oregon lower columbia wild stocks.
puget sound does look considerably better, with increases of wild and hatchery fish in northern and southern puget sound. but hood canal and strait of juan de fuca wild and hatchery returns are forecast to be down. also, while increases are made in many systems, the stillaguamish forescast is low and will be a driver for salmon seasons in the strait and possibly portions of the sound (not sure about puget sound impacts because i was in the coastal meeting, not puget sound). also, the new pacific salmon treaty requires us to reduce our impact on thompson river coho, which will have more of an effect in the strait than inside the sound.
also, if the state continues to freeze hiring new state employees there will not be enough fish checkers to insure seasons this summer. the money for the checkers is from federal funding, but the state freeze includes other sources of funding too, even though not hiring temporary fish checkers won't save the state one cent.
i expect seasons to start a little later this summer, although we may open up the same time on the coast to access the kings that will be available. for me, i'm hoping for a later opener so we are fishing coho late-july through the end of august at neah bay... because i'm sure sekiu will have a september coho fishery and it's a quick and easy run to area 5 from neah bay if the ocean is shut down.
thought you guys might be interested,