The sport salmon seasons were decided Wednesday, and opportunities will be very similar to last year along with some positive changes for coastal fisheries.
One of the biggest changes from last summer is the reduced daily hatchery chinook catch limit in central and northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 9 and 10).
Salmon fishing in Areas 9 and 10 will be open from July 16 through Aug. 31, but could close sooner if the catch quotas are achieved. The limit will be one hatchery chinook daily, compared to the two hatchery fish limit in past seasons.
Other noticeable changes are a shorter nonselective coho season at Sekiu (Area 5) from Sept. 19-25, which is nine days shorter than last year. The Oct. 1-31 will also shift to a hatchery coho and chinook only season; and from Feb. 16-April 10 anglers will need to release wild chinook.
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In the San Juan Islands (Area 7) it will shift to a hatchery-chinook only from Oct. 1-31 compared to last fall when wild and hatchery chinook could be kept.
Anglers will also need to release wild chinook in south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) from Oct. 1-Dec. 31, and in southern Puget Sound from Nov. 1-April 30.
Salmon anglers will get a bonus two sockeye in the daily catch limits at Sekiu, Port Angeles and San Juan Islands (Areas 5, 6 and 7) during summer fisheries through Aug. 31 that will take advantage of the 23-to 72-plus million sockeye expected back to the Fraser River in southern British Columbia.
The ocean salmon fishing seasons could very well go down as some of the best seen in more than three decades.
“It will absolutely be a good summer for salmon off the coast, and one of the most significant seen in years,” Doug Milward, the state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon resource manager said of returns that resemble those seen dating back to the all-time peak in 1977.
State fishery managers unveiled a surprisingly large Columbia River forecast that could be a landmark return of nearly 3 million chinook and coho.
The Columbia River fall chinook forecast of more than 1.6 million is the largest fall return since at least 1938. The Columbia coho forecast is 1.2 million coho, and could rival the 2009 coho season when about 1.05 million returned.
The coastwide sport catch quota for hatchery coho will be 184,800 (75,600 last year), and 59,100 chinook (51,500 last year).
The selective fishery for hatchery chinook will be open daily off Ilwaco and Westport from May 31-June 13. La Push and Neah Bay will be open May 16-17 and May 23-24, and May 31-June 17. The fisheries could close sooner if a coastwide quota of 9,000 hatchery chinook is achieved.
The traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho would open daily at Ilwaco and Westport from June 14-Sept. 30. La Push would be open daily from June 14-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12. Neah Bay would be open daily from June 14-Sept. 21.
State Fish and Wildlife continues a trout planting frenzy to boost prospects in many local year-round lakes.
The catchable-sized trout usually average 10 to 12 inches, and some lakes are also getting bonus plants of trout weighing 1.5 pounds.
King County: Angle, 3,000 catchable trout planted on March 17, and 297 1.5 pound trout on April 2; and Meridian, 2,700 and 442 1.5 pound trout on April 2. Pierce County: Bradley, 1,000 on March 19 plus 100 1.5 pound trout on April 1; Whitman, 2,000 on March 25; and Ohop, 1,350 1.5 pound trout on April 1.
Thurston County: Black, 10,240 on March 28, and 7,250 1.5 pound trout on April 2; Long, 10,145 on March 28; and Offutt, 1,995 on March 27. Island County: Cranberry, 6,600 on March 17; and Lone, 3,055 on April 1.
Snohomish County: Cassidy, 3,523 on March 19, and 259 1.5 pound trout on April 1; Roesiger, 523 1.5 pound trout on April 1; Martha (Warm Beach), 295 1.5 pound trout on March 31; Silver, 412 1.5 pound trout on April 1; and Tye, 212 1.5 pound trout on April 1.
Mason County: Nahwatzel, 500 4 pound trout on March 29. Grays Harbor County: Sylvia, 1,500 on April 1, plus 300 4 pound trout on March 29.
Numerous other statewide lakes were already planted in the past month.
Salmon fishing now
Marine salmon fishing remains another top bet especially in northern Puget Sound and San Juan Islands.
“The weather has been horrible at times, but the later-winter fishing has been better than we’ve seen in a while,” said Pete Sergeef, a state Fish and Wildlife test fishing surveyor.
“We got five keeper-sized fish in an hour at Point No Point (on Monday), and hooked two back-to-back that were in the 15 pound range,” Sergeef said. “These fish were definitely mature adult spring kings.”
Decent reports for chinook also came from Pilot Point on the Kitsap Peninsula’s east side and Possession Bar. Other fair to good areas include Hood Canal; Port Townsend; and Double Bluff off the south side of Whidbey Island.
The 10-week long Frank Wilson Memorial Blackmouth Derby ends at 3 p.m. this Sunday at King’s Marine on Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, and some big fish have been hitting the scales in recent days. Leaders are Brenda Schmidt with 21.33 pound chinook; Chuck Payne, 20.87; and Don Wilson, 16.32.
The Lower Columbia spring chinook fishery improved, and effort is expected to rise dramatically heading toward Monday’s final day of the season.
“Catches were picking up (and) water on the Columbia is pretty clear,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “We’re expecting about 45,500 angler trip and an expected catch of 8,400 fish (from April 7-14; closed April 8), which is more than double (from March 1-April 6),”
More coastal razor clam digs during morning low tides begin Monday at Twin Harbors; Tuesday through April 17 at Twin Harbors and Long Beach; April 18 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks; and April 19-20 at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.
|Marine Areas||Salmon fishing from Sekiu to Port Angeles is open through Thursday; the San Juan Islands, Hood Canal, and south-central and southern Puget Sound through April 30; and northern Puget Sound through Tuesday. Excellent perch and kelp greenling fishing off the Westport South Jetty. Charter boats report excellent action for lingcod and black rockfish at Westport, La Push and Ilwaco. Neah Bay opens Wednesday for lingcod. Spotty for salmon in the Tacoma area, south of the Narrows Bridge, and east side of Whidbey Island.|
|Statewide rivers||The first catches of the season occurred at Drano Lake (Little White Salmon River) with eight boat anglers keeping two spring chinook. Drano Lake is closed to all fishing on Wednesdays through June, and only bank fishing allowed west of a line projected from the easternmost pillar of the Highway 14 Bridge to a posted marker on the north shore beginning April 16. No report on success from the Wind River. The Cowlitz was fairly good with 33 boat anglers keeping 13 steelhead. Slow in the Lewis for steelhead. Good for walleye in The Dalles and John Day pools. Fair for steelhead in the Bogachiel; Calawah; Sol Duc (a few spring chinook also showed up in catches); and Hoh.|
|Statewide lakes||In southwest Washington, Silver was planted on April 1 with 3,126 trout and on March 27 with 4,074; Kress, 3,510 on March 28; Horseshoe, 3,402 on March 27; Lacamas, 6,000 on April 1; and Maryhill, 500 on March 31. In Eastern Washington, Dry Falls, Pillar-Widgeon chain, Spectacle, and North and South Teal are good trout bets. Roses Lake was planted with 600 1.5 pound trout on April 1-2. Good at Potholes Reservoir for walleye and trout. Fair for trout at the Martha, Burke and Nunnally. Lake Chelan is good for lake trout and kokanee. Slow for cutthroat trout in Lake Washington. Good for kokanee at American Lake. Good at Lake Roosevelt for kokanee and rainbows.|
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org