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Originally published Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 10:33 PM

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Salmon forecasts look good, and particularly so for pinks

State Fish and Wildlife released salmon forecasts on Friday, and there will be plenty on tap for anglers this summer and fall. Many will be blushing...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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State Fish and Wildlife released salmon forecasts on Friday, and there will be plenty on tap for anglers this summer and fall.

Many will be blushing with delight as a strong return of 6.22 million pink salmon are expected to flood into Puget Sound this summer.

Pinks, which return during odd-numbered years, have shown a strong resurgence in recent years . This includes places like the Nisqually River, where 764,000 pinks are expected this summer. A forecast didn't even exist there two years ago.

Fisheries biologists are finding that the resilient pinks are showing up in places as far south as the Columbia River.

Other pink forecasts include the Puyallup river system, 1.24 million; Green, which spills out into Elliott Bay, 1.3 million; Skagit, 1.23 million; Snohomish, 988,621; Nooksack, 154,075; and Stillaguamish, 409,700.

The height of the pink fishery usually occurs at the end of July through August. This is an excellent fishery in that pinks tend the hug the marine shoreline making them easily accessible to bank anglers as well.

Another 8.9 million pinks are forecast for the Fraser River in southern British Columbia, and that will boost catches in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands.

Pat Pattillo, the assistant to the state Fish and Wildlife director, noted one guarantee in the six-week, salmon-season setting process will be a bonus daily catch limit for the abundant pink runs.

Opportunities for other salmon like chinook and coho also look decent in Puget Sound.

"In general, Puget Sound chinook forecasts are up," said Steve Thiesfeld, a state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound recreational samon manager.

A total of 264,000 chinook are forecast in Puget Sound, a figure similar to last year that generated good summer fishing for abundant hatchery stocks in the Strait and Puget Sound.

Add to that another robust Puget Sound coho forecast of 882,134 (732,363 last year), and anglers should see good fishing for them, too. Coho numbers look especially good in the Skagit River system where 153,300 are forecast (compared to 63,232 last year) and the Snohomish River system, 275,279 (154,688).

While the Baker Lake sockeye forecast of 21,557 will be down from last year's prediction of 35,366, Pattillo says it should be enough to provide a fishery. The Lake Washington forecast of 97,000 is well below the minimum goal of 350,000 needed before any fisheries are considered.

The plan is to start with summer and fall sport fisheries that existed last season in Puget Sound, Pattillo said, and work from there on looking at expansion possibilities.

One fishing rule change on the table is to lower the minimum size limit for chinook from 22 inches to 20 inches in Puget Sound sport fisheries.

"This rule has been there for 30 years now, and anglers have asked to change it so we'll look at the proposal," Pattillo said.

On the coast, fisheries managers are predicting for the second year in a row a strong return of wild coho in the Queets and Quillayute rivers. The Grays Harbor chinook return forecast is 24,267 (29,076 last year), and the coho forecast is 196,777 (150,209).

State Fish and Wildlife will draft three ocean salmon fishing options March 6-11 at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma.

Preliminary drafts of possible salmon-fishing seasons for the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound will be made March 15 at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia; and March 27 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 20610 44th Avenue W. in Lynnwood.

Final seasons will be set April 6-11. For a list of meetings, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.

Notes

• The Muzzleloading Arms and Pioneer Craft Show is March 9-10 at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe. The event is hosted by the Cascade Mountain Men Inc. There will be more than 300 exhibitors and traders, and includes shooting supplies, leather and fur goods, early and Native American crafts, books, artwork, demonstrations, blacksmithing, and wood spinning and carving. Cost is $5. Details: www.cascademountainmen.com.

• The Washington Outdoor Women's Introduction To Waterfowling is March 23 at the French Creek Hunt Club near Monroe. WOW is partnering with the French Creek Hunt Club and Ducks Unlimited to provide instruction to women over age 18 in shotgun patterning and shooting moving clays, setting decoys, calling, the use of blinds, and understanding (by seeing) why a retriever is such an important partner in hunting. Cost is $90. Details: www.washingtonoutdoorwomen.org.

• The Hope for the Slopes, Ski and Ride for a Cure fundraising event to support the American Cancer Society is Sunday at the Stevens Pass Resort; March 16 at Crystal Mountain Resort; and March 16-17 at the White Pass Ski Area. The event is a fun, competitive, family-friendly event for all ages and skills. Individual and teams of up to 15 raise money for the most vertical feet or continued participation on the hour awards. Details: 253-207-5158 or email charlene.piercy@cancer.org.

• The Sun Valley Resort Film Festival is March 14-17, and features more than 60 short films, student films and music videos at theater venues in Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey. For a complete schedule, visit www.sunvalleyfilmfestival.org.

• The submission deadline for the Mt. Hood Meadows Film Festival is March 10 for the event that will be held 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 17 in the Vertical Restaurant. Prizes for the top ten finalists, including the top prize of $500. Details: 503-337-2222, ext. 1225 or www.skihood.com.

• The Washington Fly Fishing Club's six-week Beginning Fly-Casting Class will be held every Thursday from April 4 through May 9. Classes are held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Green Lake Casting Pier in North Seattle. Cost is $50, and limited to 36 fly anglers. Details: 206-356-4180. The Advanced Fly-Casting Class is four weekly sessions starting April 3 through April 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Green Lake Casting Pier in North Seattle. Cost is $50, and limited to 10 fly anglers. Details: 206-356-4180.

• The Women's Living the Dream Bike Ride is May 11. Distances of 18, 24 and 36 miles, and a Century Ride. Deadline to register is April 10 and limited to 500 riders. Details: www.livingthedreamride.org.

• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.

• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club holds weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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