Strong river runs expected for pink salmon

Forecasts: Good chinook numbers also expected

February 27, 2011 

A preliminary review of the 2011 salmon forecasts calls for strong pink salmon runs to the Green and Puyallup rivers, while chinook returns in the deep South Sound should be good.

The State Department of Fish and Wildlife will release initial forecasts at a meeting Tuesday in Olympia.

Steve Thiesfeld, the department’s Puget Sound recreational salmon manager, said there is cause for optimism after he did a quick review of the forecasts. Wednesday was the first chance he had to review the numbers.

“We’ve been fairly strong on South Sound chinook forecasts for the last couple of years,” he said. “For (waters) south of the Puyallup River, the forecast is about twice what it was in 2009 and 2010.”

The Puyallup River chinook forecast is at the same level as in 2010, Thiesfeld added.

“The South Sound pink forecast is about 1 million fish, and I would think most of that would be the Puyallup,” he said. “The Green is expected to be very strong again.

“The Puyallup and Green have been coming on and are making up a much larger portion of the overall Puget Sound pink run than they did before 2007 and 2009,” he said.

The forecast release, compiled by state and tribal biologists, is the traditional kickoff of the annual salmon season-setting process, known as North of Falcon.

The process involves state, tribal and federal fishery managers and results in the establishment of recreational, commercial and tribal salmon fishing seasons for Puget Sound, Columbia River and Washington coast.

Ocean options: At meetings Friday through March 10, the Pacific Fishery Management Council will adopt three options for ocean fishing for chinook and coho salmon. The three options offer a range of catch quotas for sport and commercial fisheries.

Final decisions: The final decisions will be made April 14 at the council meeting in San Mateo, Calif.

Why is it called North of Falcon: The name refers to Cape Falcon in northern Oregon. The cape marks the southern border of the management area for Washington salmon stocks.

The season-setting process involving the state and treaty tribes is held in conjunction meetings conducted by council. The council establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.

When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday

Where: General Administration Building auditorium, 210 11th Ave. S.W., Olympia

Information: More on the process and meeting schedule can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.

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