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Because more coho salmon are returning to the Skagit River watershed to spawn than expected this year, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife last week announced a third extension of fishing on the Skagit and Cascade rivers.

The Cascade River fishery is extended through Nov. 30 and the Skagit River fishery through Dec. 31.

On the Cascade River, fishing is allowed from the confluence with the Skagit River to the Rockport-Cascade Road bridge and up to four of the fish may be kept per day.

On the Skagit River, fishing is allowed from the mouth to the Marblemount Bridge and up to two of the fish may be kept per day.

All other salmon species must be released and anglers are asked to avoid chum and chinook salmon that may also be in the watershed this time of year.

The number of coho now expected to return to the Skagit River system during the spawning season, when the fish return to the rivers where they were born to lay and fertilize eggs, has more than doubled to 138,000.

The original forecast was for about 66,600 fish to make it into the Skagit River and its tributaries, including the Cascade River, this year.

“Anglers have and continue to enjoy a banner season with the surprise and welcome greater return of coho than forecast,” Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Eryn Couch said.

Couch said fisheries managers are trying to determine why there was such variation between the forecast and actual returns.

Forecasts can rely on factors including the number of young fish released from area hatcheries, historical return sizes and marine conditions.

Couch said forecasts for 2021 returns were impacted by a loss of some ocean condition monitoring due to the pandemic.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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