Early Hatchery Returns Mostly Up

Driving up I-5 through Seattle on Saturday, a billboard caught my eye. It read “Hawaii is closer than you think,” or something like that.

You ain’t a kidding about that, I thought, as I hydroplaned back home through the first few hours of the Pineapple Express.

That tropical river of air sent streams around Western Washington over their banks, way over in some cases, so it’s going to be a few days before they’re tame enough to try steelheading.

But that doesn’t mean we stop thinking about the sport — especially during what’s turning out to be a decent season.

Proof of that comes in the form of numerous angler posts and news articles out the past few weeks, but now we can also see the bump in the first of the season’s hatchery escapement reports.

Credit goes to that inveterate fish hound/biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver for bringing my attention to this. This morning he forwarded an email showing how this year’s winter run in Southwest Washington stacks up against 2009’s through early December.

Lemme just say, it stacks up very well in some places.

KAREN CHAPDELAINE WOULD BE UNDER SIX FEET OF WATER IF SHE WERE ON THE SKYKOMISH TODAY, WHERE 29,900 CFS IS RACING PAST THE GAUGE AT GOLD BAR, BUT SHE HOLDS ONE OF MANY EARLY STEELHEAD CAUGHT AROUND WESTERN WASHINGTON THANKS TO GOOD EARLY RETURNS. SHE CAUGHT HERS DEC. 5 ON HER SECOND BOBBER LOB INTO THE WATERS BELOW REITER PONDS. (LAZER SHARP PHOTO CONTEST)

So how about the rest of the wet side, I wondered, and began downloading files.

HATCHERY (river system): return through Dec. 10, 2009; return through Dec. 9, 2010

MARBLEMOUNT (Skagit): 20; 75

WHITEHORSE (NF Stillaguamish): 1; 3

TOKUL (Snoqualmie): 8; 61

SOOS CREEK (Green): 4; 101

COOK CREEK (Quinault): 1,269; 4,205

BOGACHIEL: 150; 72

HUMPTULIPS: 74; 100

FORKS CREEK (Willapa): 73; 383

COWLITZ SALMON: 467; 547

KALAMA FALLS: 69; 67

LEWIS RIVER LADDER: 18; 71

MERWIN DAM (Lewis): 14; 383

SKAMANIA (Washougal): 135; 154

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