Northwest salmon managers are forecasting an ocean abundance of at least 1.732 million coho off the coast this summer, confirming rumormongering here over the weekend.
The figure is prior to any sport or commercial harvest and includes a whopping 1.014 million Columbia early coho, 576,000 Columbia late coho and 125,000 silvers from Oregon Coast lakes and rivers, plus some additional coastal fish, silvers that are Oregon Production Index and Oregon Coast Natural indexes.
In other words, it kinda looks like summer and fall fishing might be shiny off much of the Oregon and Washington Coast and up into the big river.
It’s the largest forecast for what’s known as the “Oregon Production Index” since at least 2015, and if it’s accurate, it would be the highest actual OPI ocean coho abundance back to the late 1980s and a shade above 2014’s 1.724 million, which was one of the best or top-two years by sport catch for numerous Oregon ports back through at least 2008.
The total figure of 1.732 million is 6.5 times higher than last year’s preseason forecast and more than 3.5 times higher than how many silvers actually were out in the Pacific. Last year saw a massive return of jacks, immature coho, suggesting high ocean survival and good feeding conditions.
The fishing advisor packet also begins to flesh out potential spring Chinook seasons on the Columbia, including possibly reopening the lower river thanks to somewhat increased Cowlitz and Lewis returns but also instating a new bubble for the mouth of the former river. Those streams’ stocks are important for reseeding efforts in the upper basins.
Given the forecast of 75,200 above-Bonneville springers, 30 percent run buffering and splitting shares between tribal, recreational and commercial fishermen, 2,922 mortalities are available for sport anglers from Buoy 10 into the Snake, with 2,206 of those earmarked for the big river below Bonneville before a runsize update. Models suggest a seven-day-a-week fishery would fill 98 percent of the lower river quota through April 4.