It’s been difficult to come up with new ways to describe a coho run that has exceeded forecasts and expectations, a run that started early -in mid August- and as of early October is still providing limit action.
By any measure you can choose, this run of coho or silver salmon has not failed to impress. At the Edmonds coho Derby in early September, over 600 coho were entered and the two-day Everett Coho derby posted a record 1700 fish…so many that the Derby’s data-entry system was overwhelmed.
License sales are a key statistic when considering the significance and popularity of a fishery. If we compare this seasons sales to the last non-pink salmon year (2010), September Annual Saltwater license sales are up a whopping 45%! Sportfishing is alive & well in Puget Sound! Just show anglers some fish and they will come…in droves. In fact, WDFW’s angler trip data suggests at or near record numbers of people went salmon fishing in the successful summer of 2012!
While it’s fun to look back -and it’s hard not to grin while doing so- there may indeed be a larger, longer term aspect to this 2012 bumper crop of salmon. This aspect has a foundation in scientific research and it’s nothing short of great news!
The climate cycle that drives the El Nino/La Nina weather trends is known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO. This 25 to 30 year cycle has a profound effect on salmonid abundance on a coast-wide basis and research now suggests that the Pacific Northwest is in for a very productive decade…or two!
The current phase of the PDO is known as “negative” which results in cooler ocean water off the west coast of the U.S. and Canada. Cool sea-surface temperatures unlock the vital oceanic process known as upwelling.
So, how do we know if the PDO is responsible for the upswing in local salmon stocks?
Stay tuned… If winter-run steelhead show up in numbers above forecasts and Columbia River springers show up fat and early, the reason may well be increased oceanic survival. If that is indeed the case, you may not have to travel far for world class salmon angling!