State Fish and Wildlife unveiled salmon forecasts to a packed house in Olympia on Tuesday, and as usual there are some highlights mixed in with lowlights as the first steps are taken in this lengthy process of setting fishing seasons.
The good news is a Puget Sound forecast of 559,045 coho (267,745 wild and 291,301 hatchery) is a drastic increase from last year’s dismal forecast of 255,403 (87,359 and 168,585) that led to one of the most contentious disagreements between state and tribal fishery managers on how to carve out fisheries.
“We are in a better situation (from last year) and coho returns are OK,” said Aaron Dufault, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “There are some places like North Sound which aren’t looking good at all.”
In general the Puget Sound coho run is up about six percent of the 10-year average, and the hatchery component is up 118 percent from last year.
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The poor coho returns created a near closure of all marine and many river sport fisheries until late summer and fall when it was realized that the run was better than expected allowing for some sport and tribal fisheries to reopen.
The Snohomish river system coho forecast is 169,283 (37,365 was forecasted last year); Mid-Puget Sound includes Lake Washington, Green River and Puyallup River is 100,224 (28,532); Strait of Juan de Fuca is 25,845 (7,810); Nooksack/Samish is 58,845 (37,776);…