OLYMPIA– The outstanding salmon returns that have marked most of 2001 are expected to continue with the strongest returning Puget Sound chum salmon run in three years, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists.
Pre-season forecasts predict 730,000 to 880,000 fall and winter chum salmon are headed back to Puget Sound in November and December.
The chum support a variety of sport, commercial and tribal fisheries, including a popular Hood Canal recreational fishery, where 225,000 to 375,000 chum are expected to return.
Although the run is the highest in recent years, it is not expected to rival peak returns in the last two decades. Between 1978 and 1998, Puget Sound chum runs exceeded one million fish 17 times and broke the two-million mark three times. The lower recent numbers are believed to be due to changes in conditions in the north Pacific Ocean.
"The recent contraction in chum salmon run sizes reflects normal long-term cycles in regional stocks, not an overall decline to depressed status," said Travis Nelson, WDFW stock assessment biologist.
More information about chum salmon can be found on the WDFW website. The newly updated site features information on chum management, life history and identification, along with regional reports for Puget Sound, coastal areas and the Columbia River.