Week 46 South Sound Fall Chum Test Fishery at Apple Cove

Thursday November 14th, 2013 was the final day of test fishing for South Sound fall chum at Apple Cove Point. They got a bit of a late start after some mechanical problems with the skiff, but eventually managed to get in 5 sets. Catches were low, as might be expected for week 46. They caught 143 chum (plus 2 coho and 3 immature Chinook) in 5 sets, for a catch-per-set of just 29 chum.

They also had a sea lion active in the seine during at least two of the sets (including the day’s biggest set). The proportion of females was about the same as last week, 58%. The age distribution for the catch was 3 year old at 34.5%, 4 year old at 63.8%, and 5 year old at 1.7%.

Watch this video of the South Sound Fall Chum Test Fishery at Apple Cove :

WDFW had purse seine openings on Monday (11-11-2013) and Wednesday (11-13-2013) and caught a total of 72K chum with 84 purse seine landings.  Both days the fleet was split pretty evenly between areas 10 and 11. On Monday 11-11-2013 the larger catches were in area 11 but Wednesday 11-13-2013  they were pretty much equal.   WDFW had observers out on the boats during Wednesday’s fishery and the largest set they saw was for 500 fish in area 11.  WDFW observed 9 sets is area 10 of which 3 were about 200 fish, 5 were for 50-100 fish and 1 was a water haul.  WDFW commercial chum catch to date was estimated to be at 225K.

Apple Cove Test fishery ISU models ranged from 543K to 637K.  The ISU models using WDFW purse seine catch data are a bit higher than the Test Fishery’s.  They range from 652-720K.  Regional catches for Tribes appeared to decline through out the Puget Sound with the exception of Squaxin Island Tribe. Puyallup reported that there are very few chum returning to the river.  Winter chum  are beginning to show up in the Nisqually. Current catch for Squaxin Island Tribe  as of November 16th is at 67, 071 chum.

Week 46 Puget Sound Fall Chum Runsize  was updated to 550K, down from last weeks update of 600k.

Totten Inlet and Skookum Inlet are at escapement.  The last Kennedy Creek stream survey on November 14th resulted in 11,890 live and 1,882 dead.   We are seeing a good number of chum in Eld Inlet as well as in Perry, McLane, and Swift creeks.  Eld is well on its way to escapement.


Adult Spawner Surveys and Cranberry Creek Trap

It’s that time of year again when Squaxin NR staff puts on the chest wadders and walk  a number of streams in the the South Puget Sound area counting the returning Chum and Coho salmon.    We are  in the streams 3 to 4 days out of the week count chum and hopefully finding some Coho too.

Joe Peters in Campbell Creek doing an adult spawner survey.

Joe Peters in Campbell Creek doing an adult spawner survey.

We are monitoring about 15 streams.  The data collected is used to formulate the overall escapement for chum and coho in each surveyed region.

Fish Ladder from Lake Limmerick feeds into Cranberry Creek

Fish Ladder from Lake Limmerick feeds into Cranberry Creek

Also 2009 marks the 10th year of installing a trap on Cranberry Creek.  This trap is located above a fish ladder at Lake Limmerick.  The target species in this trap is Coho, where we see up to 30 coho a year.  A number of Chum also are encountered.

Fish Tech Bear Lewis scooping chum salmon out of a fish trap in Cranberry Creek

Fish Tech Bear Lewis scooping chum salmon out of a fish trap in Cranberry Creek

Lower Fall Chum Runsize Yields Escapement for Totten/Eld Inlet and Above Average Chum Catch for Squaxin

Fall chum salmon returned to the Puget Sound in lower abundance than forecast.  The 2008 expected Puget Sound fall chum run size was forecast to be around 635,000 chum.  In the last 5 weeks the in season run size has dropped to 350,000 chum based on WDFW commercial fisheries and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) run Apple Cove Test fishery up in Marine Area 10.

Recent adult chum spawner survey numbers on Kennedy Creek (and Schnieder Prairie) are indicating that Totten Inlet has reached the needed 14,500 chum for escapement.

Totten Inlet Streams Adult Chum Spawn Survey Data

Kennedy Creek
River Mile
Live Count
Dead Count
10/16/2008 0.0-2.3 WDFW 159 6
10/23/2008 0.0-2.3 WDFW 285 8
10/29/2008 0.0-2.3 Squaxin 1922 55
11/5/2008 0.0-2.3 WDFW 6262 264
11/18/2008 0.0-2.4 WDFW 5,833 2083
Schnieder Creek RM Agency Live Dead
11/17/2008 WDFW 1,717 112

Eld Inlet chum appear to be a running a week or two early with Perry and Swift (tributary to McLane) Creek showing  good numbers considering the updated lower run size.

Eld Inlet Streams Adult Chum Spawn Survey Data

Swift River Mile Agency Live Count Dead Count
11/10/2008 0.0-1.0 WDFW 2622 10
11/17/2008 0.0-1.0 WDFW 5262 128
Perkins Creek (Mclane Trib)
11/13/2008 0.0-0.5 WDFW 287 14
11/11/2008 0.0-1.0 WDFW 2622 10
11/17/2008 0.0-1.0 WDFW 5933 42

Eld Inlet escapement goal is 18,500 chum.

Although Fall Chum returns are lower than expected, currently Squaxin Island Tribes 101 licensed fishermen have harvested approximately 43,000 chum so far this season.  A five year average using Squaxin chum catches from ’02-’06  results in an average Squaxin Island chum harvest of 32,452.   2007 catch was excluded from this average due to the unusually large returns and Squaxin catch of 150K chum.

Squaxin Island Tribe Chum Fisheries

Eld Chum Fishery

Totten Chum Fishery

Squaxin Fish Hotline: 360-432-3899

Kennedy Creek Adult Chum Counts Increasing

Will Henderson surveying Kennedy Creek

Will Henderson surveying Kennedy Creek

Chum salmon are beginning to make their way up Kennedy Creek.  This weeks stream surveys have shown increased adult chum with an estimate of 6,262 live and 264 dead chum from the Kennedy Creek falls to the mouth down at Highway 101. 
Kennedy Creek Chum

Kennedy Creek Chum

With this increase of adult chum on the spawning grounds of Kennedy Creek, Squaxin Natural Resources will have a 24 hour Chum fishery in Totten Inlet and Pickering Passage 4:00pm Friday November 7th through 4:00pm Saturday November 8th.   

Detailed Regulations are available below and at the Squaxin Island Tribe Website.

Emergency Regulation ER-08-12 Chum Totten Pickering Drift Net

Emergency Regulation ER-08-13 Chum Totten/Pickering Beach Seine

A summary of the Squaxin Island Tribal Fisheries is also available on the Squaxin Island Hotline: 360-432-3899

Squaxin Island Tribe Suspends Salmon Fisheries to Meet Totten Inlet Escapement Needs.

Spawned out Chum Salmon

Spawned out Chum Salmon

As of 9 AM Sunday October 26, the Squaxin Island Tribe suspended all directed salmon fisheries to ensure that Totten Inlet meets its escapement goal. 2008 Escapement goal for Totten Inlet is 14,400 chum. On Wednesday October 29 Squaxin NR staff walked Kennedy Creek and only counted 1922 live and 55 dead chum.

Doyle Foster conducting a Adult Chum Spawner Survey

Doyle Foster conducting an Adult Chum Spawner Survey

These numbers are very low; normally we are seeing 4,000 to 8,000 chums in Kennedy Creek by this week.  We are assuming that very low flows (lack of rain) are contributing to the low counts.  We are optimistic that with current weather forecast for the up coming week that chum will start to move through the system.

Squaxin Island Tribe Fall Chum Fisheries are based on in-season escapement numbers for each of our inlets.   For example, if this weeks Kennedy Creek stream counts were well on the way to the escapement goal,  we would have had an opening this week.

At this time we will be holding off any scheduled Fall Chum fisheries until we get another count on Kennedy Creek next week.  We will be going out to Kennedy to survey early next week.