Salmon fishing will close on the Snohomish system starting tomorrow, Oct. 21, due to lower than expected returns of coho.
The latest closure to hit Pugetropolis, it affects the Snohomish from mouth to the confluence, Skykomish from mouth to the forks, Snoqualmie from the mouth to the falls and the Wallace from the mouth to just above the hatchery.
“Inseason run-size assessments conducted by state and tribal comanagers indicate that coho run sizes are significantly below preseason forecasts in these rivers,” an emergency rule-change notice out from WDFW this afternoon states.
Managers had forecasted 156,000 hatchery and wild coho back to the Snohomish.
The rule change effectively bars chum fishing as well.
Last week, the agency announced that the mainstem Skagit, Stillaguamish and Green/Duwamish were shutting down for similar reasons.
The latest WDFW escapement report shows that hatchery returns are below where they were last year at this same point all along the east side of Puget Sound:
Marblemount: 2015: 927; 2014: 1,202
Sunset Falls: 2015: 3,093; 2014: 6,626
Wallace: 2015: 500; 2014: 1,395
Issaquah: 2015: 550; 2014: 7,080
Soos: 2015: 650; 2014: 4,026
Voights: 2015: 2,864; 2014: 4,015
The Columbia and its tributaries are also seeing very low coho returns.
Many of this year’s fish have been coming in on the small side; the average weighed in at the Everett Coho Derby a month ago was only 4.54 pounds. The warm-water blob in the North Pacific may have not only undernourished this year class of silvers, but killed many too.
The closures are slightly ironic because at times coho have been biting very well, including off saltwater beaches. In light of the low hatchery returns, they might have been too snappy.