Absence of silvers in South Sound

I am a new member, but I have been fishing the South Sound for almost 35 years.I fish quite often with another member, Roger. This winter I haven't been able to get out as much as I usually do, but the times I have been out, I have been unable to find ANY resident silvers. No leapers, gulpers, slashers or smolts. I have heard that there were not many (any?) delayed releases from the net pens last spring/early summer. If that is the case, that may expain the dearth of fish now. Has any one else noticed a lack of silvers too? If so, have any of you ideas to account for so few fish?


Native Trout Hunter
Resident coho have been slow this year, I managed to find a couple of them while night fishing today, as well as a couple blackmouth, but they have been anything but consistent out there. I heard a rumor last year that WDFW was a little worried that they had over done it last year and there might be impacts on the baitfish populations when the adult ocean fish came back. Maybe this is part of the reason why they cut back this year????:confused:

Milt Roe

Active Member
I usually target the adult fish coming back, so I don't have first-hand experience with this year's juvenile fishery. I do know there have been concerns raised about the impact of the net pen fish on naturally produced coho in the S Sound. Hard to compete with a net pen bully twice your size if you are a natural smolt, especially if there are millions of them out there. Look at Deschutes coho returns - Went from 20,000 to 200 around 1990. That's a pretty big drop. Smolt to adult data for the Deschutes suggest the problem is somewhere in the salt. Maybe they backed off a bit on net per releases to see how the naturally produced fish respond? Could also be due to the relatively low adult returns the last few years. Sometimes fewer juvenile fish released can translate into better adult returns. Or the scarce numbers this year could be unrelated to either of those. Maybe we should ask WDFW what their version of the story is?


Active Member
Last year there were lots of resident coho as well as lots of "shaker" blackmouth. From all reports there are fewer of both this year through out the Sound.,

Maybe that there is something more going on than just the numbers of fish being released.

Anchovies are being seen through out the Sound and adult sardines were found in South Sound. Looks as if conditions in the Sound are changing; that would seem to indicate that we should expect changes in our fish's distribution and survival. Just a thought!

Tight lines


Active Member
although there were some descent days in jan
silvers have been slow this year
on the issue of a changing ecosystem
there was a large school of anchovies that came up into the intertidal zone last year
i have never seen that down here
i managed to dip net a few out of the kayak
18 eagles that day

Milt Roe

Active Member
Agree - There were anchovies everywhere in the S Sound last year. Huge schools all over the place.l I don't see them this year though - Not much going on in general. Not a lot of bait showing, and the birds are not working like usual.


Coast to Coast
Anchovies are being seen through out the Sound and adult sardines were found in South Sound. Looks as if conditions in the Sound are changing; that would seem to indicate that we should expect changes in our fish's distribution and survival. Just a thought!
What sort of changes are we talking about?
All, production of "Resident coho" has been steady since the 2002 release year. Fish from Minter Ck, 250,000 (freshwater delayed) get released about July 1st each year, along with about 1 million normal coho released in late April, early May (these go outside). South Sound Net Pens (SSNP) (AKA Squaxin Net Pens) numbers were dropped from 2.6 million in the 90's to 1.8 million in 2000 (about).

In addition, we have tested a few smaller groups (50,000 each of the 1.8 million total) released in late June, rather than the normal June 1 from SSNP to see if that helped any. It did not.

Survivals for yearling fish (all species, wild or hatchery) hitting the salt south of the Narrows have continued to do poorly and are quite variable. This includes Deschutes wild coho, Nisqually wild steelhead, SSNP coho and Percival Cove Yearling chinook (for the blackmouth fishery). Yearlings from north of the Narrows have been doing much better. Oddly zero-age chinook (normal rearing from Deschutes and Nisqually hatcheries), and chum south of the Narrows are doing well. We have been doing radio tagging with the Squaxin tribe to determine what is going on with the fish. So far we don't know much other than fish aren't surviving at very high rates. (big suprise!)

Recent SSNP survivals range from 2-4% (smolt to adult). This dropped with the 1989-1991 releases from an average of 14%! Deschutes wild coho also hit the deck those years (dropping from about 20%), as did Nisqually steelhead, none have rebounded. The releases from Minter have been in the 3-6% survival range, which is considered normal for Puget Sound hatchery coho.

Curt is correct, Puget Sound is changing and has been for a while. We did have good nubmers of residents for several years, recently. Looks like this year is poorer than last. The one thing the "delayed" fish still seem to do pretty well is stay in Puget Sound (some do leave, usually in Jan-Feb). If the food is not here, they don't survival very well and thus don't provide much fishing.

Chum fry will be coming out soon (March) and that has been a food supply, (SRC eat them like popcorn) assuming the floods didn't wash them out of the gravel, but if the residents are not here (either having left the sound or died) it won't make much difference,
Tight lines
Fishbio, Thanks for providing all that information!
I have run into resident silvers on several of my recent trips however, I am not seeing as many fish as I did last year. I'm not running into the 10" - 14" blackmouth like I did this time last year either. I'm hoping the fish are still here and I'm just doing something wrong.:confused:
On the other hand I am seeing more sea lions in the south sound than I have ever seen. A couple weeks ago I saw a sea lion shaking what appeared to be a rather large skate. There were about 30 sea gulls following him as he shook and tossed the thing, ripping it into bite size chunks.


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