Get ready to jump on the salmon fishing bandwagon this summer for a wide variety of options around Puget Sound. Many anglers will be blushing...
Get ready to jump on the salmon fishing bandwagon this summer for a wide variety of options around Puget Sound.
Many anglers will be blushing with excitement as more than 6.2 million pink salmon are expected to flood into Puget Sound from July through August.
Pinks, which mainly return during odd-numbered years, are the smallest of the salmon species — averaging 3 to 5 pounds — and will offer excellent marine, river bank and boat fishing.
“We’re looking forward to some really good seasons, and when you add in the additional pink fisheries it will be another great year coming up,” said Pat Pattillo, special assistant to the director of state Fish and Wildlife.
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In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the hatchery chinook fishery at Sekiu and Port Angeles will open July 1. Both will have a bonus two pink daily-catch limit, and a coho/chinook fishery from Oct. 1-31.
An Elliott Bay pink fishery begins Aug. 16 from Fridays to Sundays of each week. The boundary line is West Point south to Alki Point, and an inside boundary along the north side of Harbor Island.
There will be a half-inch maximum hook restriction and no bait allowed in the bay for pinks to ensure protection of wild chinook. The Spokane Street Bridge area opens for pinks Sept. 1 with specific gear restrictions and snagging rules.
In Sinclair Inlet, summer anglers will be allowed a three chinook daily-catch limit, and a two-pole endorsement may be purchased.
Also new is an additional daily bonus catch limit of two pinks in South Puget Sound. This was created due to a strong pink forecast of 764,937 headed to the Nisqually River.
The San Juan Islands used to be open during October for wild and hatchery coho, but this season anglers can only retain hatchery-marked coho, Aug. 1 to Oct. 31.
The popular hatchery chinook fishery in northern and central Puget Sound is open July 16 through Aug. 31, but could close sooner if the chinook catch guideline is achieved. The area then reverts to coho and pinks only from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31.
On the northern coast at La Push and Neah Bay, there is a new May salmon fishery that coincides with halibut fisheries on May 9-10, and May 16 and May 18.
Many anglers pursued lingcod on days when halibut fishing was closed, and that led to a dramatic increase in the catch of yelloweye rockfish now listed as threatened on the Endangered Species Act.
“We came up with this idea (of having an early ocean salmon fishery) so we can step away from being on the bottom and catching fish we didn’t want to,” said Doug Milward, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon resource manager
Neah Bay will be open for hatchery-marked selective chinook fishing May 10-11 and May 17-18. The daily limit will be two hatchery chinook with a minimum size limit of 24 inches. Release all coho and wild chinook.
The Tulalip Bubble Salmon Fishery opening is also going to be different this season, and will open on the same Friday through noon Monday schedule, but won’t open until May 31.
Last year, the bubble fishery opened in mid-May, but in years before 2012 it had opened in early June. There will also be a sport fishing closure there on June 15 for a tribal ceremonial salmon fishery. Chinook returns to the bubble area are predicted to be poor again this season as it has been in recent years.
Central Puget Sound will also have the salmon catch and release fishery from June 1-30, and release chinook from July 1-15.
New on freshwater scene is the Snohomish River will have an early Aug. 1 opener below Highway 9. The fishery is directed at the robust pink return of 988,621.
The hatchery chinook fishery in the Skykomish River opens June 1 to July 31. Last year the fishery didn’t open until mid-July.
On Lower Skagit River the pink fishery begins Aug. 1, and opening dates for other upriver sections will be staggered soon after. There will be a four coho daily limit, and no more than two may be wild coho. More than 1.2-million pinks are forecast.
Skagit anglers will need to look at the regulation pamphlet carefully when it comes out in May as there will be hook size restrictions to reduce incidental catches of wild chinook.
The sockeye forecast of 21,557 returning to Baker Lake will be strong enough to open a fishery starting July 10 for the third year in a row. However a sockeye fishery won’t occur in Skagit River.
The pink fishery on Nooksack River will be open July 16 to Aug. 31 for an expected return of 154,075.
The Stillaguamish River won’t have an early opening for pinks to protect wild chinook, but opens Sept. 1 along with a bonus pink daily limit for a predicted return of 409,700.
The Green River will have early openings directed at a pink run of more than 1.3-million. The Lower Green from the 1st Avenue South Bridge to Highway 99 opens for pinks starting Aug. 23. Other opening dates will be staggered heading upstream along with some gear restrictions to protect wild chinook.
Salmon fisheries in the Skokomish and Puyallup rivers haven’t been decided. Any possible openings will occur under emergency rule announcements.
The Buoy 10 fishery at Columbia River mouth will open for kings and hatchery coho Aug. 1 to Sept. 1 with a two salmon daily limit; only one may be a chinook.
The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. From Sept. 6 through Sept. 30, chinook retention will be prohibited below the Lewis River, except anglers will be allowed to retain hatchery chinook from Sept. 6 through Sept. 12 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Warrior Rock.
The sockeye and hatchery summer chinook fishery on the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam will be open from June 16-June 30. Daily limit of two adult salmon or steelhead or one of each.
Anglers should find plenty of good times in the ocean off Washington’s coast.
The ocean fisheries will have a sport catch quota of 48,000 chinook (51,500 last year) and 74,760 hatchery coho — about 6,000 more than last year’s quota.
Neah Bay and La Push will be open for a hatchery-marked selective chinook fishery on May 10-11, May 17-18 and daily from June 22-28. At Westport the fishery will be open daily from June 8-22, and at Ilwaco from June 8-21. The hatchery chinook quota is 8,000 and each port could close sooner if the quota is achieved. Daily limit will be two hatchery chinook only with a minimum size limit of 24 inches. Release all coho and wild chinook.
The coastal fisheries for chinook and hatchery-marked coho will be open daily from June 22 to Sept. 30 at Ilwaco and June 29 to Sept. 22 at La Push and Neah Bay. Westport will be open Sunday to Thursday beginning June 29 to Sept. 30. All ports could close sooner if catch quotas are achieved.
All ports will have a two salmon daily limit, but at Ilwaco and Westport anglers may keep only one chinook. At Neah Bay and La Push there will also be a bonus daily catch limit of two pink salmon.
A robust wild coho return off the coast will produce good fishing in the Queets and Quillayute river system. Inner-coastal bays like Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay should also have good late summer and early fall salmon fisheries.
Sport anglers will also have an exclusive area to salmon fish in Willapa Bay.
An area off Tokeland in the north-central portion of the bay will be open for sport salmon fishing only from 6 p.m. Aug. 15 through 6 p.m. Sept. 15. Anglers in Willapa Bay may use two fishing poles with the purchase of an endorsement fee from Aug. 1 to Jan. 31.
State Fish and Wildlife will list specific seasons and regulations online in the next couple of weeks at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org