Tag Archives: coho

Lake Washington Walleye Outfitted With Acoustic Tags For Study

Fishery biologists with a Seattle-area tribe are capturing a new predator species in Lakes Washington and Sammamish to monitor their movements and whether they cross paths with salmon.

It’s unclear how many of the illegally introduced fish are actually in the system, but concern is building and the Muckleshoot Tribe reports they have “successfully tagged and released multiple walleye” already this year.


A request for comment from the tribe had not yet been returned as of this writing, but details of the operation come from the LOAF, or list of agreed-to fisheries that was signed by WDFW and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission earlier this month as the parties reached an agreement at North of Falcon, and which was posted last week by the state agency.

Besides outlining all the treaty, commercial and recreational salmon fisheries over the coming 12 months, the 105-page document includes the Muckleshoot’s aims and methods for their two-year warmwater species study in the Lake Washington basin.

It builds on the scant information we were able to report earlier this year, when it began.

The tribe says it wants to catch up to 15 walleye to “assess their overlap with migrating juvenile salmonids in addition to locating areas these invasive predators may be targeted in subsequent fisheries.”

Tribal fishers are targeting one of seven zones in Washington and Sammamish at a time, using up to eight 300-foot-long gillnets with 31/2- to 6-inch mesh. The nets fish during the work week and are closely monitored to reduce the possibility of snagging the few if any ESA-listed steelhead in the basin.

Walleye are being implanted with acoustic devices that can be read by receivers stationed around the lakes that are otherwise used to track tagged returning adult Chinook and sockeye and young outmigrating coho.

Overlapping walleye movements with the coho will help model their potential to cross paths with Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook smolts.

The Muckleshoots say their effort “will benefit salmonid management in the Lake Washington basin,” as well as inform researchers on walleye diets and distribution.

Of note, a “second consideration” is to figure out if catch rates on walleye and bass are “high enough to result in an economically viable fishery … Data collected will inform managers of areas and times that a tribal net fishery could be economically viable as well as areas to avoid/target minimizing bycatch and optimizing harvest.”

According to plans, gear, locations and effort may be shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with details on any steelhead or Chinook caught, with the test fishery being shut down after a third and fifth of each species is encountered.

The data will add to a 2004-05 Army Corps of Engineers study that looked at movements of acoustically tagged Chinook smolts, smallmouth bass and prickly sculpins.

Walleye first turned up in Lake Washington in 2005, a small male, caught by University of Washington researchers, with anglers catching one or two in following years.

But in 2015, state and tribal biologists caught a dozen, mostly in Lake Washington between Mercer Island and Bellevue, including a 13.5-pound hen that was dripping eggs.

As the species is native to waters east of the Rockies, the only way they could have arrived in the urban lakes is in livewells. The nearest source populations are about 120 miles east on I-90 in the Columbia Basin.

The Lake Washington system supports important tribal and recreational salmon fisheries, though sockeye, which reside in the lake a year before going to sea, have not produced directed seasons for over 10 years, despite a new hatchery. WDFW’s Issaquah Salmon Hatchery produces Chinook and coho.

So far, the Muckleshoots have caught at least one northern pike in Lake Washington, as well as a handful of walleye in Lake Sammamish.

The LOAF also describes a plan to electrofish in spring and fall and gillnet in spring in select areas of Lake Washington and the Ship Canal, the idea being to figure out if removing bass, walleye, perch and other salmon predators can be effective.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re a bass tournament angler fishing nationally ranked Lake Washington, you’d want a map of where those efforts are planned.

Kids Release Coho Into Lake Washington Trib

If it’s spring, it’s planting season.

Time to plant coho salmon, that is.

For the third May in a row, my sons and their friends from up the street turned out the fingerlings they’ve been raising at their elementary school from eggs donated by the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Once again I was there to document the morning at Grace Cole Nature Park in Lake Forest Park, at the north end of Lake Washington, through pictures, but this time I had the late Bob Heirman on my mind. He passed away last weekend, after a long life full of fishing, conservation work and similar fish releases.

Around 30 volunteers, kids and their parents showed up to help release the fish at Grace Cole Park, a shady wooded alcove in Lake Forest Park on a tributary of McAleer Creek, at the north end of Lake Washington.

This year the kids at Ridgecrest Elementary were given 205 coho eggs to raise, down from last year’s 250. Some years they get as many as 300, according to organizers of the release.

Each kid ends up getting to release about a dozen coho each over several runs to the pond. They also get to name their fish, and this year Bob was popular. Here, Eliza releases Straw, Stick and Brick, although I’m not sure which one is the shy one not making an appearance.

My oldest, River, heads for the pond with a couple fish. It was a little bit tougher to get him to go to this year’s release but afterwards we had a good talk about the need for people to care about the fish as well.

Couldn’t help myself but to try and repeat a shot I took last year

This is the pond the coho are released into to rear. How many make it back as adults, probably very few if any. But it helps to connect the kids with the fish, and I think we can all appreciate that

The juniors release their silvers, although Kiran’s looks a little bit skeptical …

… but eventually decided to test the waters.

At a pond close by, mallards had a large brood, somewhere around eight ducklings. A lot of work has gone into making Grace Cole Park more natural, with large efforts to remove invasive ivy and other nonnative plants.

Salmon berries bloom and begin to ripen. Hopefully some of my sons’ coho similarly grow and ripen in return.

Job done till 2018. Thanks to the volunteers, the school district for their interest, and the state for providing the eggs.

Afterwards, Amy and I needed coffee, and while she ran into the Starbucks at Lake Forest Park Town Center, River, Kiran and I watched a stream roll past for awhile. It provided a moment of contemplation to talk to them about fish and what they need. A lot of work has gone into making this creek more natural, but so much more is needed around our region. I hope events like this and WDFW’s School Cooperative Program can continue to connect the kids with creeks and coho.

WDFW Outlines Potential Puget Sound Salmon Seasons

Puget Sound anglers, guides, gear retailers, resort owners, commercial fishermen and others got their first glance at possible summer salmon seasons today.

Options presented this morning by WDFW included a mixed bag of opportunities to catch abundant Chinook and coho in some marine areas and rivers, sharply carved seasons elsewhere to limit impacts on depressed stocks, and closures on some waters to ensure enough salmon make it back to North Sound spawning grounds.

The agency was gathering comments from its stakeholders for the next round of negotiations with Western Washington tribes, who were also in meetings today.


Discussions at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites were slated to continue through the afternoon, but, well, some of us have magazine deadlines to attend to, so I had to leave “North of Falcon II” early and can’t go as in-depth on all the arcane math behind WDFW’s modeling as is my usual wont, but I found several fishing options that the agency has drummed up as newsworthy:

For starters, with over 16,300 Chinook heading back to the Green, the agency would like to hold a one-weekend (Friday-Sunday), two-salmon-limit fishery on inner Elliott Bay in August (hatchery coho and pinks only the next two weekends), and open part of the lower river for king retention.

Initially, WDFW is looking at a nonselective season on E-Bay kings, following a lack of objection from the Muckleshoot Tribe, according to Mark Baltzell, Puget Sound salmon manager.

But that concerned several anglers, including retired state salmon policy expert and current sportfishing representative Pat Patillo. He thought that it might be better to propose the fishery as a mark-selective one, aligning it with consistent efforts to target and harvest fin-clipped hatchery salmon.

Either way, it buoyed one longtime angler who sat in the front row of today’s briefing.

“We’re glad to see a chance to get back our king fishery,” said Ed, last name unknown.

WDFW is also modeling hatchery Chinook seasons in the Nooksack, Skykomish, Skagit, Cascade, Puyallup and Nisqually Rivers, and any-king fisheries in the Samish River and Tulalip Bubble.


Unlike 2016, this year there are least options to fish for coho on the salt.

But to protect very low forecasted returns of Stillaguamish and Skagit coho, WDFW is considering closing Areas 8-1 and 8-2 through October, and running Area 9 as a shore fishery only for hatchery silvers in September.

According to the agency’s Ryan Lothrop, Admiralty Inlet typically produces 24,000 silvers that month, with impacts to Stilly and Skagit coho “quite high” as the rivers’ stocks mix before heading for their natal streams.

The tribes were said to be “relatively open” to a shoreline fishery throughout Area 9, including down to the Hood Canal Bridge, though it would only yield about 5 percent of the usual catch for anglers, according to WDFW.

Elsewhere, Areas 5, 6, 10 and 13 are modeled as open for hatchery coho, while wild and clipped silvers could be fishable in Areas 11 and 12.

WDFW’s proposal also includes selective coho fisheries in the Nooksack, Samish, Cascade and Nisqually Rivers, and any-silver fisheries in the Snohomish, Green, Puyallup, Nisqually and Quilcene Rivers, and Lakes Washington and Sammamish, and Tulalip Bay.

The Skagit and Stillaguamish would be closed, but the retired WDFW biologist and North Sound angler Curt Kramer said the agency owed game fish anglers something for 2016 closures and termed the Stilly a “blue-ribbon” cutthroat fishery.


Since the early 2000s, odd-numbered years have delivered stellar numbers of pink salmon, but not so for 2017, at least by the forecast, some 1.15 million Puget Sound wide.

Again, with Stillaguamish and Skagit coho mixing into the best waters for Snohomish- and South Sound-bound humpies, things look grim for Area 8-2 anglers, but audience members came up with two possible sliver fisheries.

Patillo advocated for one on the eastern side of the area, from, say, Mukilteo down to the Shipwreck, with the idea being a fishery in Humpy Hollow would be further away from the constraining coho stocks.

Scott Weedman of Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville wanted to know about one off the mouth of the Snohomish River, from approximately the Tulalip Bubble down to Mukilteo, an area known as 8A.

The latter is a consideration, with the assumption that the closer to the Snohomish, the higher the density of salmon native to that basin. WDFW staffers were up until 2 a.m. this morning modeling an 8A fishery.

Other modeled saltwater fisheries include:

  • Hatchery Chinook in all or parts of July and August in Marine Areas 5-7, 9-11, 12 south of Point Ayock, and 13;
  • Any-Chinook fisheries in Area 7 from August through September;

But ominously, Skokomish kings and coho are listed as TBD, a possible sign about negotiations to reopen the river after last year’s closure by the tribe.

About 60 people attended today’s meeting. Besides those mentioned above, they included Gabe Miller of Sportco in Fife, Tom Nelson of The Outdoor Line, Puget Sound sportfishing advisors Ryley Fee and Norm Reinhardt, among others, Mark Spada, a pair of representatives from Sekiu, charter skippers Keith Robbins, Carl Nyman and Steve Kesling, Kevin John from Holiday Market, Art Tatchell of Point Defiance Boathouse, Jacques White of Long Live the Kings, Fish and Wildlife Commissioners Dave Graybill and Bob Kehoe, numerous Puget Sound Anglers, Kitsap Poggie Club and CCA members, Mark Yuasa at the Seattle Times, dozens of WDFW headquarters and regional staffers, and Susan Bishop at NOAA.

Again, I had to leave early, but this represents what WDFW presented to fisherman as North of Falcon 2017 draws to its scheduled mid-April conclusion.

Kyuquot Sound West Coast Vancouver Island

For Immediate Release – Media Advisory April 4 2016


Kyuquot Sound West Coast Vancouver Island

Chinook Forecast:

Department of Fisheries and Oceans Preliminary forecasts are out and participants from the most recent set of planning meetings this past weekend are saying that for the West Coast of Vancouver Island this season is going to be the Chinook run of the Decade!

Marilyn Murphy, of Murphy Sportfishing says “So if fishing in Kyuquot Sound has ever been on your radar, this year is the year to do it”.

West Coast Vancouver Island hatchery returns are at a combined ten year high with over 250,000, yes two hundred and fifty thousand mature Chinook returning for the 2016 season. To bring this number into perspective it is double the normal average.

Now on top of these astounding numbers you are going to see some girth. Girth is the circumference thickness measurement of a fish. This run is expected to be predominantly four year old Chinook, this means some nice “Tubby Tyees”. A Tyee a native term meaning the Chief of Chiefs, so in the case of a Chinook Salmon, one of which is over 30 pounds is referred to as a “TYEE”.

This is still not the full story, alongside and mixed in with this run as they land in the approach waters of Northern Vancouver Island then migrating south, will be the annual mass migration of aggressively feeding Columbia River Chinook. The adults this year are coming off of a record brood year from 2013 when over 1.2 million adults returned. With ocean condition indicators and the other voo-doo the fish wizards add in, they expect an above average return. Which in other words means over 800,000 Columbia River Chinook will be in this same area over the same time frame. Combine these Southern US bound with Canada’s West Coast Chinook returns and there are going to be over 1,000,000 Chinook foraging on their way South from Northern Vancouver Island to Southern Vancouver Island during June, July and August.

When asked “Why Kyuquot?”, Marilyn explains that Kyuquot is a very unique location as it is perched literally right on the edge of the “Super Salmon Highway” on North Western Vancouver Island, and unlike other terminal areas such as Nootka and Barkley Sound, Kyuquot will not be having large scale commercial net and Seine fisheries to compete with! “Run sizes are so large this year that both commercial Gill net and Seine will also be operating in the hatchery terminal zones. We look forward to being on the waters offshore of Kyuquot with the occasional offshore troller and local First Nations enjoying the vast uncrowded waters of the area. With this many fish returning is going to be an incredible experience”

Look for generous limits within this year’s regulations in times and areas where these abundances will travel. Detailed regulations are announced in June. You can book your trips now with confidence knowing that the regulations will be complimenting the abundance levels appropriately. Expect a full length of the season as well.

Coho Forecast:

Look for moderate to abundant levels of Coho on Vancouver Island’s west coast again this year. Although the run is not anticipated to be as big as last year’s forecast. Anticipate limits to be similar to 2014 with wild and hatchery Coho retention in the near shore and terminal areas adjacent to hatchery approach waters along WCVI and hatchery only in the offshore areas.

Halibut Forecast:

The International Halibut Commission manages Halibut and has a bilateral team of scientists that study the biomass trends. Canada’s west coast is now on a clear trend with increase in size of fish and quantity of fish at an increase WPUE (weight per unit effort) of 11% last year. What we have seen on the waters on Vancouver Island’s west coast does support what the science is saying. The fish are more abundant and the average size is increasing.

Although the biomass is increasing that doesn’t always mean that limits do! For 2016 the recreational limits are similar to last year with a plan in place to be open for the full length of the summer with a daily limit of 1 and a possession limit of 2. A maximum size limit is what has been working well to achieve annual sector quotas. This year the maximum size limit is only one fish of the two in possession may be up to 133cm (aprox 70 pounds whole) and the other can not be greater than 83cm (aprox 15 pounds whole). The annual limit is six.

As Featured on “Fishing with Rod”


Check out Rod’s video from his Kyuquot trip last year!

This year Kyuquot is selling out fast and with this incredible news its a season you really want to be a part of.

Call anytime, day or evening: 250-723-8022