The Outpost Report: April 26, 2010
April 26, 2010 | 2517 Views
OUTPOST UPDATE: This week the 2010 CHINOOK SALMON OUTLOOK.
Predicting salmon returns is a fuzzy art at best and seemingly based more on opinion than fact. We do know that the factors determining salmon abundance are many and incredibly complex. To aid in forecasting and after years of research we’ve built the proprietary “WCFC Salmon Abundance Forecaster”…
We tweaked the unit with all inputs, turned it on and waited. It whirred away, sputtered, passed a little smoke and then went silent while printing out a small rectangular piece of paper with the simple message:
“A thrilling time is in your immediate future”
Hurrah! We’re all eagerly anticipating our first morning off the dock and watching that rod react violently to the take of some monster below. I usually release my first Chinook of the season in the hopes of earning good fishing karma for the rest of the season.
For a second opinion I did speak with government scientists, activists in the sport fishing community and some of the more experienced WCFC guides to come up with an idea of what lies ahead this summer. What I discovered was that trends and historical precedent give us our best indication of what we can expect.
AS GOOD OR BETTER than 2009 was what I heard and read repeatedly. In size and numbers last summer was our best year since 2006 so that’s all very positive.
Here are some of the good news indicators:
“Spring Chinook salmon forecast for the Columbia River is strongest in 70 years” Columbia River fisheries managers are predicting the largest return of spring Chinook salmon since 1938, even after adjusting the model they had used for predictions in past years. The projected run of 470,000 spring Chinook is a big leap from last spring’s final count of 169,300 adult fish.
WOW, that would be great! The Columbia is one of the largest salmon producing rivers on the coast and according to Todd McIntyre (NIL) those fish should be passing Langara & Haida Gwai in April, May & June.
The Pacific Salmon Commission issued the following information on Chinook Abundance Indicators (AI) from 2009 to 2010. In 2009 the Queen Charlotte Island sport anglers caught 139,100 Chinook salmon which equates to an AI of 1.07. For 2010 that number is estimated to rise to 152,000 fish caught as the abundance indicator (AI) has risen to 1.17.
Deryk Krefting from the BC Sport Fishing Institute explained that cold water upwelling in the Aleutian Islands have been strong over the last few years. The cold water brings with it large amounts of high quality food (mostly in the form of copepods) which feed a variety of species including salmon, herring and whales. For young salmon this increases survival rate significantly. We’re currently in the top of a cold water cycle. Last year we saw a lot of 3 year old Chinook which were in the 17-20 lb range. This year we should see a lot of 4 and 5 year old fish headed our way. They should be larger and in good numbers thanks in part to the cold water trend.
We heard from Outpost Caretaker Pete on March 29th that the Herring Spawn and fishery on the west side of Haida Gawi (Port Louis) was very strong. There was 200 tons of herring captured right in Port Louis which means there is a lot of “salmon food” around and the fish should be coming inshore to find it. That’s good news for the Outpost as I’ll predict Brock Island (last years hot spot) will hold some big fish.
In speaking with some of the WCFC guides and looking through WCFC catch reports in previous years, 2006 was our strongest run in recent history. There were good numbers and nice sized fish at all three lodges. That was 4 years ago and now we should be fishing the offspring of that cycle this summer. Again all good news as long as ocean survival has been adequate.
In conclusion, it seems there are a number of positive indicators signaling that 2010 could provide the best fishing of the last few years. There should be plenty of opportunities to catch a trophy fish this summer. If you like big fish I hope you’ve booked your trip, I’ll definitely be out there trying to break my 62lb record at the Outpost.
Remember “A thrilling time is in your immediate future”
Until next week,