A coho salmon. Flickr/Bureau of Land Management

A coho salmon. Flickr/Bureau of Land Management

Salmon fishing restricted on the Snoqualmie River

Lower than expected counts of coho salmon prompted the state to restrict fishing.

Salmon fishing will be banned on the Snoqualmie, Snohomish and Skykomish rivers upstream of the Wallace River beginning on Sept. 29 through Nov. 15 after in-season wild coho runs were found to be lower than pre-season predictions.

The restrictions were issued by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and stipulates that all salmon must be released, except for hatchery coho on the Wallace River and the Skykomish River from the mouth of the Wallace River. Hatchery coho can be identified by their lack of the small adipose fin which are removed by the fishery.

Fish and Wildlife regional fish program manager Edward Eleazer said in-season fish counts are determined by the number of catches fishermen get in saltwater, which is then compared to historical catch rates as a baseline. State biologists also inspect streams and river for coho sightings.

“We have biologists currently on the ground and in boats surveying the river, seeing what the estimates are,” Eleazer said.

Coho and many other salmon return to their spawning waters on a roughly three-year cycle, meaning fish that are coming back would have spawned in 2015. During that year, the state was experiencing drought conditions which reduced stream flows, leading to warmer waters which can harm salmon. That affected all species of salmon and is one of the reasons the state is being cautious. Eleazer said the state wasn’t expecting an abundance of returning salmon and that the in-season count is just short of what they expected. The fishing ban could be lifted early if sufficient salmon return.

“We’re right below where the forecast could be, but because of the uncertainty in the model it could be wrong,” he said. “And if we find out that model was wrong, we’ll reopen.”

According to a WDFW memo, wild Snohomish coho salmon were declared over-fished based on escapement levels between 2014-2016 and far fewer coho were counted in 2017 than were expected. This means the fish will remain in over-fished status in the coming years, and the number of fish remains below 50,000. The number of coho is low enough that the Tulalip Tribe cancelled marine fishing except for on Tulalip Bay, and closed many of their freshwater fishing areas.

“WDFW understands what fishery closures mean to our constituents and do not enter into these decisions lightly,” the memo read.

Other salmon have also seen a decline this year. Sockeye counts at the Ballard Locks showed only 28,409 salmon by the end of July, much lower than the 129,567 that had returned last year by the same date. However, previous years saw sockeye counts fluctuate from about 21,000 up to 177,106 in the last decade.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Valley Shuttle. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Transportation’s Facebook page.
Five-year transit plan in the works for the valley

Snoqualmie Valley Transportation outlines multiple goals for area’s towns and cities.

A site plan for the Snoqualmie Valley Athletic Center. Provided by the city of North Bend
Snoqualmie Valley Athletic Center could be completed by February

Construction on the project is expected to begin on Sept. 14.

Seven decades later, the search for two missing Navy pilots continues

The pilots are thought to have disappeared near Black Lake, northeast of North Bend.

The truck of the Renton family as it was found Tuesday. While fleeing the Cold Springs Fire two adults were severely burned and one toddler died. Courtesy photo/Okanogan Sheriff’s Office
Toddler killed as Renton family flees Cold Springs Fire

The parents were severely burned and are being treated at Harborview Medical Center

A view of the Palmer Fire, located seven miles southwest of Oroville in north central Washington. Source: InciWeb
Antifa isn’t starting Washington wildfires

Online conspiracy theories are spreading as the West Coast burns.

A plane drops fire retardant on the Palmer Mountain Fire last week. The fire is listed as 84 percent contained, and fully lined. Laura Knowlton/Sound Publishing staff photo
Threat multiplier: How climate change, coronavirus and weather are scorching WA

Dry summer conspired with the pandemic and a wind storm.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
Workers may qualify for an extra $1,500 in unemployment back pay

A federal program will give some of the state’s unemployed a $300 weekly bump for the past five weeks.

Screenshot of the air quality monitor at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8. Courtesy Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
King County faces unhealthy air quality due to wildfire smoke

Weather monitors recommend people limit time outdoors, especially children, seniors and those with heart or lung disease.

Most Read