Often we see closures on a river and we never get an update regarding whether the closure yielded anything to benefit the anglers. The WA Chapter of NW Guides and Anglers Association is trying to stay on top of this and provide updates to you as we get them.
Doug Saint-Denis, NWGAA – WA Chapter President reached out to the Region 4 Fish Program Manager, Edward Eleazer, in regards to an update for the 2018 fall closure of the Snohomish River system for Coho. Here is the response to Doug’s inquiry.
“The closure on the Snohomish/Skykomish was very helpful in allowing us to get closer to our escapement goals. If we would have kept it open, we would have gotten even less coho back to the spawning grounds.
As of today we have a preliminary estimate of 40 to 50 K coho returning to the system. The data we are looking at suggests we may see numbers like in 2014 and 2016, where we saw 46,600 and 44,400 respectively. You may recall that we needed over 50k to have a meaningful recreational fishery.
Looking towards the future we are doing everything possible to boost the wild/hatchery production numbers. In the short term we are:
- Wallace River Hatchery coho production is being doubled from 150,000 release to 300,000.
- Excess integrated hatchery coho are being put back on the spawning grounds to help boost the wild population.
Thank you for reaching out and please let me know if you or others have any follow up questions or concerns.
As mentioned in the original post dated October 2nd, the Snohomish River system was facing an ESA listing for Coho.
This would not have been good at all. In fact, an ESA listing for Coho Salmon could shut down the Snohomish River system to Coho fishing for up to 6 years.
That said, all anglers, including guides who fish the Snohomish River system do not want to see closures, especially when we literally see tons of fish moving up river as we fish during the day. But as conscious and active conservationist for our sport and industry, we also need the peace of mind the river system will get the escapement needed to see our fishery flourish in the future.
The closure was in the best interest of the Coho Salmon and the sport anglers who pursue them. WDFW Region 4 Biologist and Fish Program Manager, Edward Eleazer made the right call on this one.
We look forward to continued communication with WDFW to fully inform Washington State Guides and Anglers of these type of situations. We also want to see the Snohomish River system fisheries be abundant and thrive in the future.