At least for now

By Jack Whitney

Now you might wonder what is the blob and why it is in this newsletter?  The blob is a massive warm spot in the ocean that starts above Vancouver Island and goes up into the Gulf of Alaska.  This warming has been with us since 2013 and was broken apart this fall by more normal Pacific storms. At its peak, the blob raised the ocean currents off the coast of Alaska by 3 degrees and that is an unprecedented temperature increase in the frigid Northern Pacific Ocean. This increase was also responsible for the toxic algae blooms we have experienced the last few years.  It also screwed up the ocean conditions which in the past have given us healthy returns of salmon and steelhead.  That was covered in more detail in our last newsletter.  

Now that the blob is gone when will we start to see healthy runs again?  Well it won’t be next year as salmon spend at least a couple of years in the ocean before returning to their birth place to spawn.

So, figure in a couple of years fishing should get better.  Some species of salmon return on a three year cycle.  So, it will be three maybe four years to get all the runs up and running. If you are a clam digger, the return of open clam seasons has already begun.  

Of course, the big question is what started the blob, and will it return.  Was it global warming? The suspicion is that global warming had something to do with it.  But good scientists won’t tell you that until they have had time to study it to know how and why it happened.  All we have to do is to look to the cold winters in the Midwest and East to understand how scientists work.  They have had five winters, or maybe I should say events, to analyze, hypothesize, observe and reach conclusions. As a result of those observations they now can say with certainty  that the cold weather east of us is a result of global warming.  Now I am not going to get into their reasoning as this column is about fishing for Pacific migrating fish and not ice fishing in Minnesota.  The Pacific Ocean has had only one warm-water event that lasted four years. It will be some time before the scientific community witnesses more blobs. The one consistent statement that the scientists are telling us that there is a very good chance that we will have more warm-water events like the blob in the future.

If we can take away anything from this overstayed blob, is to fish while we can. Make the most of it during the blobless years.