This year’s return of chum salmon to Hood Canal remains on track to break the record, coming in with four times as many fish as predicted earlier this year.
Last week, I reported that the total run size for Hood Canal fall chum appeared to be about 1.4 million fish, according to computer models. See Kitsap Sun, Oct. 30 (subscription). The modern-day record is 1.18 million, set in 2003. If conditions hold, this year’s run will easily exceed that.
The large Hood Canal run also is expected to provide an economic boost of some $5 million to $6 million for commercial fishers, not including fish processors and stores that sell the fish.
The forecast models are based largely on commercial harvests. Data collected since I wrote the story only tend to confirm the record-breaking run, according to salmon managers. Final estimates won’t be compiled until the end of the season.
The chum run in Central and South Puget Sound also are looking very good. The latest data suggest that the run could reach 700,000, or nearly twice the preseason estimate and well above average.
Meanwhile, the large chum runs are attracting Puget Sound’s orcas to the waters off Bainbridge Island and Seattle, as chinook runs decline in the San Juan Islands and elsewhere. As I described in a story on Sunday, it has been an odd year for the whales, which may have spent most of the summer chasing chinook off the coast of Washington. See Kitsap Sun, Nov. 2 (subscription).
The large chum run also promises to provide some great viewing opportunities for people to watch the salmon migration in their local streams. I would direct you to the interactive salmon-viewing map that Amy Phan and I completely revamped last year for the Kitsap Sun’s website. The map includes videos describing salmon streams across the Kitsap Peninsula.
Speaking of salmon-watching, everyone is invited to Saturday’s Kitsap Salmon Tours, an annual event in which biologists talk about the amazing salmon and their spawning rituals. One can choose to visit one or both of the locations in Central Kitsap. For details, check out the Kitsap Public Utility District’s Website.
One of the locations, now named Chico Salmon Park, is undergoing a major facelift, thanks to more than 100 hours of volunteer labor over the past two weekends — not to mention earlier work going back to the beginning of the year. See the Kitsap County news release issued today.
Volunteers working on the park deserve a lot of credit for removing blackberry vines, Scotchbroom and weeds from this overgrown area. This property, which has Chico Creek running through it, is going to be a wonderful park someday after native trees and plants become established. (See Kitsap Sun, Feb. 2, 2013)
Here’s my final word: If you live on the Kitsap Peninsula — or anywhere around Puget Sound — you should visit a salmon stream to learn what all the fuss is about — and be sure to take the kids.