Preseason salmon forecasts, news from Washington State Parks, a new watercraft inspection station and fishing reports are all part of this week’s outdoors round-up.
The salmon forecasts are in from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Starting off with the good news, a great run of 1.6 million coho salmon should be coming up the Columbia River this year. Compare that to some 121,600 coho that returned last year and you’ve got a lot of reasons to smile as an angler. An increased number of coho are also expected for Puget Sound with 615,000 silvers returning to area rivers, an increase of 110,000 fish from last year.
The Chinook salmon forecast is not as dramatic but it is an improvement with 354,000 fish expected to head up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. This is 50,000 more salmon than last year but still below the 10-year average. This is also a pink salmon year and 2.9 million of these fish are expected back in the Sound…way better than the 604,000 fish forecast for 2019. Puget Sound Chinook and chum salmon are once again expected to have a rough year and some stocks heading for the Stillaguamish River and mid-Hood Canal could be very low.
The Columbia River sockeye run is forecast to be just 155,00 fish with an estimated 27,300 heading to Lake Wenatchee. The overall forecast is less than half of last year’s return but it’s worth noting that biologists are often off with the sockeye run and they tend to forecast lower returns than what actually comes back. Last year was a good example where the Columbia River forecast was for 246,300 sockeye while the actual number over Bonneville Dam was closer to 342,000 fish.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has hired a new director after Don Hoch retired earlier this month. Peter Mayer, who currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director for Metro Parks Tacoma, has been chosen to lead Washington State Parks and will be responsible for the operation of 124 parks and a staff of over 1,000 personnel. Mayer’s first day at the helm will be March 15th.
In other news, all of Washington’s State Parks that are open for free day-use admission on March 19th in honor of the Washington State Parks 108th birthday. The next free entry day at Washington State Parks is April 3rd, just in time for spring break.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is opening a new watercraft inspection station off Exit 80 on Interstate 90 west of Cle Elum this month. All watercraft (from powerboats to canoes to stand-up paddleboards) must stop for inspection if they are entering Washington State from another state or country. Employees manning the inspection site will be looking for aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, milfoil, and more which can be introduced into waterways by watercraft carrying them.
MARCH FISHING REPORTS
Early season trout anglers at the Tucannon and Quincy Lakes were treated to open waters on March 1st, as were anglers in year-round waters in much of Eastern Washington. WDFW Fisheries Biologist Mike Schmuck said Quincy Lake fished really well with lots of holdover trout caught that measured up to 18 inches. Burke lake also fished well on the opener putting out 11 to 13-inch rainbows. Caliche Lake near George gave up limits of 12 to 13 inches for patient anglers while nearby Martha Lake, usually an opening day hot spot, fished very slow.
At Lake Roosevelt, the bite is picking up for both rainbow trout and walleye. The walleye aren’t huge, but they do provide some delicious table fare. Check out the latest reports at http://northwestfishingreports.com for further details.
Photo caption: Moses Lake resident Alfonso Anavi caught this chunky trout in the Columbia Basin on March 2nd.