WHERE WERE THE FISH?
How was your catching this past season? We’ve had reports up and down the line from “better than expected” to “where in the hell were the summer fish?” This was not area-specific but seemed to cover much of our Pacific Northwest from the California-Oregon border through and including SE Alaska.
As we’ve seen many times in the past, projected summer salmon runs (paper fish) didn’t meet with the state department’s expectations on almost all accounts. From the start, the returning fish runs were expected to be down from some previous years and so it was…in most cases even lower. Look a little deeper into this issue and read Terry Sheely’s Columbia River Region section on page 9 and Rob Phillips’ on page 6. The fish returning to spawn in the Columbia River and its tributaries are the barometer of future runs and they also mirror what catching results were on the saltwater shores. Scratch fishing with wimpy returns equals some tough odds to swallow.
One real unexpected shocker for me was in SE Alaska.
Just one day before Juneau’s annual Golden North Salmon Derby the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced that retention of king salmon would be prohibited in all southeast Alaskan salt waters. The ruling went into effect on August 10th and runs through September 30th, with a possible extension if necessary. Obviously, the departments “preseason abundance index” was in error as many of the king salmon stocks that contribute to the SE Alaska recreational and commercial fishery were experiencing record-low production.
Their stocks originate in SE Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. If they can’t make escapement goals up there, how can we expect to make escapement goals here after the fish have been under harvest pressure in Alaska and British Columbia before reaching us?
Unfortunately, there are predictions that the poor production conditions that are currently occurring in the north now may persist through next year.
Time will tell.
In addition to the shortfall of salmon this year, we haven’t heard any gang-buster reports on crab catching on the inside of Washington waters. Seems like the closer to the Pacific surf the better the catch ratio but the deeper inside the Strait and Puget Sound, more scarce were the legal crab catching limits.
Last month a group of us fished the northern reaches of British Columbia, Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. We all caught fish but again it was “scratch” fishing. All participants were excellent and experienced anglers but still it was “scratch’ fishing. Yes, weather was a major, major factor with big winds, high tides and crazy currents, all of which we had no control over. The surprising thing this years was that the Chinook were considerably smaller in size than previous years. I expect that to change.
After an absence of many years on these pages, the South King County Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers are back onboard, using TRN for their monthly messages, joining many other fishing clubs with information and news about their organization and sharing that with our general readership.
You will find their first re-insertion in the later pages of this issue.
RETIRED TIMES 2
As it has been said, “There comes a time when…”
Well, as you saw on the front cover and page 2, longtime fishing advocate and TRN monthly columnist Tony Floor (Tony’s Tackle Box) is stepping away from the ink-on-paper monthly deadlines.
I’ve known Tony since waaay back, when we were handling the guest speaking seminars at the Big Seattle Boat Show in the Kingdome, long before Century Link Field was born. Tony was working within the public affairs office at the Department of Fisheries.
For the past 14 years he has been under the employment of the Northwest Marine Trade Association (Seattle Boat Show) and their members on fish management decisions along with the task of helping to coordinate and promote the Northwest Salmon Derby Series that we have all come to know and enjoy.
Even though Tony will be missed from our pages you will still be able to find him…on just about every stretch of water from Tillamook to Sitka, and probably fishing in the Derby Series for years to come!
There are more large boots to be filled besides Tony’s, especially for those of us that participate and enjoy fishing and outdoors-ing in Southwest Washington/Northwest Oregon/Lower Columbia River.
Allen Thomas, one of the best outdoor reporters in our region, has decided to retire from the Vancouver Columbian after being on staff for nearly 40 years. You can read Terry Sheely’s tribute to Allen on page 9.
Summer ends this month. Fall starts this month. Fishing continues…
Although the major salt and freshwater fisheries will be slacking off with the season change, there are still many opportunities to wet a line. There are fish in the rivers and lakes and still saltwater options to seek out. We suggest you crank up the computers and check daily with the department’s web sites and near-daily news releases for details…and if you look closely…I’m betting there will even be an extension on crabbing through the end of the year.
Keep those motors running and the hooks sharp!