Many anglers wonder if the 6.2 million pink salmon forecast will come to fruition in Puget Sound.
Those doubting the prediction shouldn’t give up just yet as the latest signs indicate things are starting to happen in marine areas to the north.
“There was a big push of pinks deep into Puget Sound, but it seems like things have tailed off and everyone had early expectation that it would take off sooner than later,” said Steve Thiesfeld, the state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound sport salmon resource manager. “That early part wasn’t the dominant portion of the pink run.”
An encouraging sign that hordes of pinks are coming was the commercial test fishery catch rates known as “Marine Catch Area 20,” which borders the southwest side of Vancouver Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
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“I’m encouraged by what I am seeing in Area 20 test fishery, which has picked up in the past week or so,” Thiesfeld said. “A lot of those fish caught in the Strait are Puget Sound stocks. Hopefully that is a good sign of things to come.”
During the last week of July, test catches averaged 1,000 to 1,500 daily, and now they’ve jumped to 2,000 to 3,000.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada says pink catches in test fisheries continue to be at much higher levels than usual for this early in the season. Samples indicate the Fraser River stock comprises approximately 11 percent of Area 20 pinks with other South Coast Canadian stocks making up 59 percent, and 30 percent is Washington origin.
Locally, bank and boat anglers targeting pinks should see catches picking up along the west and east sides of Whidbey Island; the Edmonds area; Point No Point; Possession Bar; Mukilteo south to Browns Bay; Shilshole Bay south to Lincoln Park; Jefferson Head; and Des Moines south to Tacoma.
• The Bad Draw Wrestling Club Humpy Showdown Fishing Derby is Aug. 24. The first-place adult gets $2,500, and its $500 for the top youth. The cost is $25 for adults, and $15 for youth 12-and-under. Weigh-in station is Douglas Bar on Snohomish River. Details: www.BadDrawWrestling.com or 425-231-1301.
• Central Puget Sound — also known as Marine Catch Area 10 — will close for hatchery king fishing after Sunday as the catch guideline is expected to be achieved.
According to estimates, anglers will have caught 3,773 legal-size hatchery kings (those that are more than the 22-inch minimum size limit) under a guideline of 3,700.
State fishery managers say the catch drastically increased the past two weeks.
To slow the catch, state fisheries managers also reduced the daily hatchery chinook catch limit from two to one on Aug. 5.
But, the hatchery chinook fishery in northern Puget Sound also closed early this summer, and likely pushed more effort into central Sound.
That is evident in the preliminary estimates of catch and effort:
Since the season began July 16, 10,356 boats with 21,444 anglers caught 2,977 hatchery-marked chinook (11 unmarked chinook illegally kept), and released 2,387 hatchery-marked chinook and 1,561 unmarked chinook for 6,937 chinook encounters.
Sport anglers in central Puget Sound retained .14 chinook per trip.
The hatchery chinook fishery in Area 10 was supposed to remain open through Aug. 31. Both Areas 9 and 10 are still open for coho and pink salmon fishing.
The exceptions to the closure are: Sinclair Inlet and five fishing piers within the marine area where anglers can continue to catch chinook as part of their daily limit. Piers still open are Elliott Bay Fishing Pier at Terminal 86, Seacrest Pier, Waterman Pier, Bremerton Boardwalk and Illahee State Park Pier.
Shilshole Bay is still closed to all salmon fishing through Aug. 31 southeast from Meadow Point West Point.
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