OUTDOORS: Coho returns looking grim

A GOOD PREDICTOR of potential ocean fishing seasons off our coast, the Oregon Production Index, was released by Oregon state fisheries officials.

The index is a forecast of ocean coho abundance and the 2020 forecast is pretty bleak.

This year’s forecast calls for 268,700 coho to arrive off the Washington-Oregon coast, compared to a preseason forecast of 1,009,600 last year and an actual return of 408,100.

Low jack returns, coupled with lower than expected adult coho returns last year, make this 2020 prediction less than surprising.

The Columbia River early coho return is 130,700 compared to a forecast of 545,000 in 2019 and an actual return of 191,400.

Late returners are pegged at 50,300 (compared to 360,600 and 106,100).

The impact of these low forecasts upon ocean recreational fisheries off Neah Bay and La Push remains to be seen, but there have been recreational fishing seasons with low forecasted runs in the past.

Low coho catch quotas could keep recreational chinook fisheries going, or if forecasted low coho returns materialize in larger numbers that means the quota could be eaten up faster.

It’s never easy, this salmon fishing.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife will present summer and fall salmon forecasts later this month in Olympia.

The state’s predictions will come to light during a meeting in the DSHS Building Auditorim, 115 Washington St. SE, from 9:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 28.

A draft of the three ocean salmon fishing options should be released at Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings in Rohnert Park, Calif. from March 3-9.

A North of Falcon meeting to discuss salmon seasons will be held in Sequim March 19 as part of the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers monthly meeting.

Fly fishing show

The Lynnwood Fly Fishing Show will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Rods, reels, boots, waders and all sorts of fishing equipment will be available for purchase.

Door prizes include fishing trips, clothing, gear and tackle. A grand prize trip to the Seychelles off the coast of Africa also will be awarded.

Admission is $15 for one day, $25 for both days. Children ages 6 to 12 are $5 and active military are $10.

Smelting down

It’s a long way to travel, but a one-day recreational smelt fishery is planned Friday on a portion of the Cowlitz River.

A portion of the Cowlitz River will be open to recreational dip netting along the shore from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for one day only.

The portion of river open to dip netting extends from the Highway 432 Bridge upstream to the Al Helenberg Memorial Boat Ramp, located approximately 1,300 feet upstream from the Highway 411/A Street Bridge in Castle Rock.

This is the first year since 2017 that a recreational smelt fishery has opened on the Cowlitz.

Columbia River smelt — also known as Eulachon — were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2010.

Not interested in making the trek south?

Try Sequim Bay, particularly off of the docks at John Wayne Marina.

Jigging for surf smelt can be tried here with dense concentrations reported near the Marina during winter months.

The area near the Port Angeles Boat Haven also can yield some surf smelt.

And the beach areas north of Kalaloch during the summer months can serve up some good dippers full of smelt.

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