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.
Fishing has been under way for the past few months, with what looks like a fair Chinook season and an above average coho season. As of October 15th, our 88 licensed Tribal fishers have harvested 4,375 Chinook and 48,748 Coho.
Chinook and Coho Fish Management
This year the Budd Inlet Chinook fishery yielded 4,375 fish, below the ten-year average. Squaxin’s projected catch for Chinook is based on average catches from previous years, the predicted returning run-size to Tumwater Falls Hatchery, and the 3,500 Chinook escapement needed for the hatchery. Escapement needs for the hatchery program were met this year. While other fisheries to the north harvest Deschutes fish, tribal and sport fisheries must contend with listed Chinook stocks of concern and are limited to a ceiling harvest rate. Some tribes get only one to two days of fishing for their Chinook fisheries. Overall the run size was lower than expected and the Tribal fishery was down as well.
Squaxin coho catch is based on the previous year’s average harvest rates of net pen Coho. The harvest rate of Squaxin net pen Coho by Tribal fishers ranges from 94%-98%. During the Coho fishery there are weekly in season update conference calls with the tribes and state to discuss regional catches and test fisheries from the straights and northern Salish Sea. It is during these calls that an in-season update is made based on actual fishery results. If a run size increases or decreases, the allocation of fish to tribes and the state change.
Squaxin Coho fisheries are unique in that the vast majority of the fish caught in 13D are net pen Coho with limited impacts on natural Coho due to the protected areas in the inlets. By staying out of the inlets natural Coho have a better opportunity to escape into the creeks to spawn. The Coho fishery through October 15th has harvested 48,748 Coho worth over $670,000. This is an above average outcome and suggests that there has been better ocean survival than previous years.
The results from this year’s fisheries will be used to plug back into fishery management decisions for next year. In the months of February through April, Squaxin Natural Resources takes part in the North of Falcon process, part of the Pacific Fishery Management Council. This series of meetings gathers state, federal, and tribal fishery managers to plan Washington coastal, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. Tribal and State fisheries managers negotiate and agree on harvest impacts on forecasted returns, as well as scheduled fisheries.
The Squaxin Net Fishery had its ups and downs in 2008. Preseason forecast projected average Chinook returns, below average coho returns and a above average chum run. Chinook returns to deep South Sound ended up being higher that projected with 10,777 adult Fall Chinook returning to Tumwater Falls Hatchery and Squaxin catch of 10,400 Deschutes origin fish. ’08 Forecast for Deschutes Fall Chinook was 13,400. Squaxin Coho fishery resulted in a respectable 35,800 catch (excluding Carr Inlet), projected Squaxin Net Pen forecast was 29K. Chum catches, although seeing lower returns and closing the fishery to reach escapement for Totten, resulted in a 56K chum catch for 2008. Escapement goals appear to be met in Eld, Totten, and Skookum Inlet watersheds.
2008 salmon market was favorable with peak prices for Chinook reaching $4 per pound, coho at $1.80 and chum $0.75. Total number of licensed Squaxin Fishermen was 112.
With the ’08 season behind us brings the 2009 Preseason Fisheries planning. Forecast begin to be shared by the end of January, with the North of Falcon process , salmon fishery negotiations between Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Tribes, in the following months. At the end of April all of the 2009 Washington State Treaty and Non-Treaty fisheries will be set.
Wednesday, September 10th marked the begining of the Squaxin coho fishery. Coho were reported to be jumping all around Peale Passage Wednesday morning. Individual catches ranged from 100lbs to 1500lbs on opening day. Price for coho is ranging from $1.50 to $1.80 a pound with signs that it will increase as the season starts to pick up.