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Is the 2016 Coho Crisis Real?

  • Yes. Current data supports the full closure.

    Votes: 7 11.1%
  • No. Hatchery coho numbers support a limited fishery.

    Votes: 28 44.4%
  • Yes, ... but. It depends on the river system.

    Votes: 11 17.5%
  • Depends on wild coho returns. I'll vote in October.

    Votes: 23 36.5%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now that it's September, we are starting to get real data about the strength of our Puget Sound silver salmon runs. Is average silver salmon size back to normal? We will learn hatchery return numbers and egg take totals soon. Later, in October we will learn about the size of the Skagit and Snohomish River system wild silver salmon runs. I hope this thread will help to document and share what is happening with our coho. Sadly, much of this data will come from commercial harvest by local tribes in September.
 

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I thought we were in such dire straights that both sportsmen and the tribes were not going to fish this year. Looks like us sportsmen were fooled again...

I fished once while it was open for kings. Caught a 9 and a 7 lb hatchery coho as well as several smaller ones. This was back in August. These fish were fat and sassy and released to swim into a tribal net somewhere. I am not a happy camper. There is no reason not to have a selective marked coho fishery IMHO. The tribes are laughing all the way to the bank. They pulled it off this year so you know darn well they are going to trying to repeat it next year too.
 

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The issue last year was "the blob", but that wouldn't necessarily be expected to have drastic effects on this year's return - they could just have moved further north as sub-adults to find decent feeding areas. The restrictions this year were just a knee-jerk reaction to last year, combined with a lot of politics and greed.

It's the next few years that we need to worry about.

They really should have predicted the possibility of numbers coming in better than expected and kept the option open for normal fisheries. The tribes, however were firmly against that for anyone but themselves.
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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Last fall and winter, I caught resident coho on beaches while fishing for cutthroat that I'd never caught coho on before.
Prior to the August closures, I experienced some of the best early season coho fishing I'd seen in years. Honest 6 lb July coho aren't an every year thing.

Fast forward to today. I've been doing more cutthroat fishing of late due to the coho closures. I generally won't starting fishing cutthroat until November.
I'm hitting the same cutthroat beaches I fished last fall and winter. I've been seeing a good number of large coho jumping at these locations which isn't normally the case. These fish are fat and big and don't look like they missed any meals.

I also took a beach hike on the west side of northern Puget Sound recently with a friend who was in town. We witnessed pods of coho finning and jumping on the incoming tide. There were multiple schools and they soon attracted the attention of some sea lions.

Those that know me know I spend a ton of time fishing the canal and sound, probably 120 days per year or so.
I don't bs about what I'm seeing and that is there seems to be a lot of coho around.
Unfortunately we'll be sitting on the sidelines while many of them end up in tribal nets rather then on the gravel, which was suppossed to be the intended result of this years agreement and closure.
The wolf cried coho.
SF
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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I think anyone in the fishery prediction business will tell you it's all about statistics with some biology as icing. Tough job.
No doubt predictiong saltwater fish runs isn't any easy task. Once they hit the big blue, it isn't like counting your cattle herd.

A little extra escapement never hurt any fishery.
Which was supposed to be the reason for the closure, agreed to by both sides.
I guess one side forgot what they agreed to, but no real surprise and so much for conservation. Just business as usual.
If predictions hold true and not enough fish make it back to spawn, who gets the blame.....the local sport anglers that didn't even fish for coho?

Needless to say I'm a bit pissed off about this whole situation. For years I've taken a week off in September to go on a nine day local coho bender. Not happening this year.

I'm also concerned about some of the local smaller tackle retailers like Ted's and John's. They have to be losing a ton of revenue due to this closure and the cancellation of the Edmonds and Everett coho derbies.

SF
 

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First let's be clear the forecasts for this year coho returns will be wrong! At this point the forecast maybe in the ball park, maybe too high or maybe too low with the critical factor for our future fishing being the performance of the wild coho; especially those return to key areas.

Chucker makes a good point! In 2015 in spite some excellent recreational fishing from late August all the way into October in central sound the numbers of coho making it to the rivers were terrible with wild escapements in key wild stocks at all time lows. Further the numbers of coho (at least the numbers being caught) in central Puget Sound seem to have little relationship to the wild escapements. At the Everett boat launch the last 3 years the average catch/boat for the first 7 days of September has been in the varied from 1.24 to 1.3 coho/boat or essentially the same. However the eventual Snohomish wild coho for the same 3 years has varied from a low of 13,000 in 2015 to 47,000 in 2014 and 126,000 in 2013. I would not get too excited about the perception of lots of early coho this year.

A couple other things to consider. In the most recent 5 years that I was able to look at (2010 to 2014) of the total Puget Sound (MA 4 to 13) recreational coho catch an average of 18.5% of the annual total was caught in July and August. With no harvest in most of the area as well MA 4, MA 3 and MA 2 would anyone really be surprised that there might be some early coho this year. Also as reported on a thread in recent weeks the ocean of the Washington has seen the return of "warm blob" like conditions; could it be that the coho this year are behaving much the same as last years?

On of the common comments I have heard about the coho fishing this year from SE Alaska to off Vancouver Island to the Washington coast to northern Oregon has been spotty fishing. Some great fishing for a few days only to have the fish to virtually disappear. Thankfully the ocean conditions much of the late spring and much of the summer were a vast improvement over the last couple years and based on the size and condition of the coho and the returning Chinook feeding conditiom were good. However that does not mean that the juveniles from the year before had normal or high survivals.

To my mind there remainsa large degree of uncertainity about the strength of this year's coho return and I would prefer to wait before deciding on the whether the "coho crisis" is real or not until we have a lot more information. I just do not understand this drive by some of the tribes, WDFW and some anglers to make sure that every potential surplus fish is harvested at the potential expense of future escpaements.

BTW -
In the last week I have been on the Skagit twice chasing sea-run cutthroat. Last week there were some coho rolling and things were looking encouraging. This week the coho were largely MIA with a lot more Chinook (mostly Jacks) rolling than coho. The coho situation seemed similar to what I saw last fall at this time. But as I mentioned above way too early to make much of a judgement on the strength of the runs this year.

Curt
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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I just do not understand this drive by some of the tribes, WDFW and some anglers to make sure that every potential surplus fish is harvested at the potential expense of future escpaements.
Curt
Curt,
So far, as I'm sure you know, WDFW has only announce one emergency coho opening. That would be Lake Washington which is a fishery I believe most on this board won't be participating in. I know I certainly won't.
Anglers have a right to be upset regarding this situation and have expressed their desire to fish for coho. As much as they want to, the reality is they aren't fishing for coho except in Hood Canal, so the Puget Sound coho are safe....from rod and reel anglers.
While we sit on the sidelines, one user group will be fishing. I'd think if you're concerned with anyone's "drive" to fish that is where you should focus your attention.

In regards to this years closures, you mentioned wild fish in your last post. I think we all recognize the importance of protecting wild fish.
You've also mentioned in other posts needing to protect hatchery fish for egg take at hatchery facilities, mainly at the Wallace facility if I recall correctly.
So is this years closure about wild or hatchery fish, or both?
SF
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Recent silver salmon return data reported in the Seattle Times (below). Very good catches of silver salmon in healthy condition on the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Encouraging!

State Fish and Wildlife announced a much stronger than anticipated run to Lake Washington will allow a sport fishery to begin Friday (Sept. 16), and catches on the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca have been very good of late and the coho look healthy.

"We now expect far more coho to return than forecast to Lake Washington, allowing for some salmon fishing opportunity," Kyle Adicks, a state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy lead said in a news release.

The latest count at the Ballard Locks - the entry point for salmon migrating into Lake Washington - show 5,432 (preseason forecast was 4,414) has been counted through Wednesday (Sept. 7). The 10-year average from 2004 to 2014 at this point of the run has been 1,864.

Single-day counts have been 415 on Wednesday (Sept. 7); 1,163 on Tuesday (Sept. 6); 1,123 on Monday (Sept. 5); and 1,351 on Sunday (Sept. 4).
 

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With the coho fish pens in the deep South Sound, the fishery is considered to be a saltwater terminal hatchery fishery (with the few wild fish being released). No escapement for any hatchery fish regardless of numbers (no hatcheries). So why shouldn't that area be catch and release for sportsmen?

The 2016 Squaxin Island pen returns were projected to be 1,800 coho with additional warnings it could be as low as 1,500 fish. Morning fishing for this time of year has been BETTER than normal and the number of coho already caught since the Sept 10th opening have probably already reached that projection.
 

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With the coho fish pens in the deep South Sound, the fishery is considered to be a saltwater terminal hatchery fishery (with the few wild fish being released). No escapement for any hatchery fish regardless of numbers (no hatcheries). So why shouldn't that area be catch and release for sportsmen?

The 2016 Squaxin Island pen returns were projected to be 1,800 coho with additional warnings it could be as low as 1,500 fish. Morning fishing for this time of year has been BETTER than normal and the number of coho already caught since the Sept 10th opening have probably already reached that projection.
Same for the Agate Pass pen.
 

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Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
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I was doing some research last night after reading another board.
Folks are talking about fishing out of Sekiu and running to the Canadian side to fish coho.
It looks like last week the coho fishing was pretty good in the straits on the Canadian side with some nice size hatchery and wild coho being caught.
http://fishingvictoria.com/fishing-report/fishing-report-week-ending-september-4-2016/

For those that don't know where Sooke is, its on Vancouver Island, basically across the straits between Sekiu and Pt Angeles.
I'd imagine there are mixed stocks in that area, with some being Washington fish.
SF
 
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