It should be clear to most long term observers that the degree to which those coho remain in the Sound depends in large part to the conditions they find during the summer when they first enter the sound. It is also clear that those conditions vary considerably year to year and the relative numbers of "resident" coho also vary.
During the summer/early fall of 2008 small coho were everywhere in Puget Sound and often it was nearly impossible to target the large adult salmon (coho/Chinook) without catching huge numbers of coho "shakers". During the summer/fall of this past season the numbers of coho "shakers" where not nearly as abundant. Even when using smaller gear for the humpies a coho shaker was a rare catch.
Based on those obseravtions I would expect that winter coho numbers will likely be considerably less than the past season. Of course as we all know our sea-going salmonids have demostrated a ability to surprise us. Which is why most of just go fishing and hope for the best rather than waiting for reports or predictions.
The above seems to have little bearing on the numbers of "resident" coho in the summer fishery in the cental sound.
Here's a proposal. Smalma goes outside on December 1st, 2009 and if he sees his shadow the resident coho fishing will be amazing. If not, it will be poor. Smalma will post the results in this thread, and we can all then decide to fish (or not).
The rezzies are "Puget Sound resident Coho". Resident coho are raised and released in salt water, and generally mill around the sound until we put them out of their misery, seldom spawning at all. Hatchery steelhead return to the rivers where they can spawn with wild fish and dilute gene pools adapted to local waters.
Apples and oranges comparison, except that all hatchery fish should be considered food..
All the resident coho are cabable of spawning and will do so if they escape the various fisheries.
While it is true that the majority of our resident coho are now from hatchery production it was not always the case. Wild Chinook and coho (and even pinks) juveniles have inlcuded a Puget Sound rearing strategy in their life histroy diversity. The some of the young smolts upon reaching the food rich waters of Puget Sound would go no further in the migrations looking for foraging opportunities. Of course anglers were quick to recognize these fish and the fishing they would support.
A number of decades ago it was recognized that those smolts most likely to remain in the sound year fish that were larger/older then most. Some experimentation soon showed that holding either coho or Chinook for a long period prior to release would increase the tendency for those fish to remain in the sound. The result has been more consistent abundance fishing for blackmouth and resident coho though wild fish of both species with the "resident" life history are still to be found in the sound
With the current numbers of wild resident coho being depressed one has to wonder what role the large scale of hatchery releases of these delayed smolts (both coho and Chinook) have had on those wild fish. The potential impacts from those fish could occur in several areas - 1) competion for limited food supplies, 2) incidentail fishing impacts from those fisheries targeting the hatchery fish and 3) at least some years in the late spring and summer of the last year of those coho's life one can find numerous salmon smolts in their stomachs.
My own (as well as those I fish with) observations is that about during July and early August about one year in 5 virtually every resident coho we clean had salmon smolts in their stomachs, about 2 out of 5 years we would occassionally see salmon smolts in the stomachs and the other 2 year we would not find any salmon smolts. Prey abundance dependent? Don't know.
Old Man's comments seem more like an apple to apple comparison than an apple to orange comparison to me and does raise a valid point/concern.
All true, of course, but this is a thread about the present day "rezzie" fishery we enjoy. "Old Man" seemed to be under the impression that these are fish released in a river, and that there is a double standard around contaminating a gene pool with silvers, versus steelhead. The larger part of this fishery consists of late release, net pen fish, especially here in the bottom of the Sound. Since this stock is not imprinted on any natal stream, they mostly just return to the general area they were released, until harvested by anglers or in beach seines. Few ever spawn, although they could. Not a long term solution, but not as lame as dumping hatchery fish in drainage with wild stock.
iagree with Clint F. and Smalma that this winters resident coho fisheries doesn't look to be very promising in the areas that I normally fish each winter. In early June there were quite a few small resident coho(6-7") around. Since then I have not seen any next winter's resident coho, even though I have fished many areas for sea-run cutthroat, adult coho, and pink salmon. Last Thurs. I checked out quite a few locations in my boat where a lot of resident coho are normally present each winter but I never saw a single fish. However, there were a few flocks of Bonaporte gulls around but they were not eating any amphipods off the water surface. The amphipods show up every winter in the next month or so and provide a significant food source for winter resident coho. When that happens, hopefully schools of resident coho will show up to feast on them.
In past years five sites were used to raise and delay release resident coho. They are: Minter Cr., Squaxin Island net pens, Voight Cr.(a Carbon R. tributary), Soos Cr.(a Green R. tributary), and Hale Passage net pens(Tanglewood Island). The latter two locations were discontinued several years ago. From the Squaxin Island net pens 1.8 million (2.2 million in past years)fish were released this year while Minter Cr. and Voight Cr. locations each released several hundred thousand fish. Thus the Squaxin Island net pens provide by far the most hatchery resident coho. These fish were released several weeks earlier(mid/late May) than normal. The longer that these fish are held in the net pens before release the more likely that they will be to residualize in Puget Sound depending on food availability. A middle/late June release is best for them to residualize. The point that I am trying to make is that the early release of this year's Squaxin Island net pen resident coho may have caused these fish to head north or towards the Strait of Juan De Fuca..