State Fish and Wildlife has announced the San Juan Islands (Marine Catch Area 7) will close to salmon fishing after Sunday, March 13, which is over a month sooner than anticipated.
“We’re projecting that we’ll hit the total chinook encounters, and we need to close it to stay within that number,” said John Long, a state Fish and Wildlife salmon fisheries policy leader.
Long says the one hatchery-marked chinook daily limit that goes into effect on Saturday, March 12 will remain in effect until the area closes. Salmon fishing was supposed to remain open through April 30 in Area 7.
Concerns arose last week that increased fishing pressure in the San Juan Islands had the area at 79 percent of their total allowable ceiling of chinook encounters through Feb. 21.
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State and tribal managers agreed to 12,248 chinook encounters – fish kept or released – in San Juan Islands, and preliminary estimates have revealed they have reached 79 percent of the encounters.
Elsewhere, the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca off Port Angeles – Marine Catch Area 6 – was at 90 percent of the total chinook encounter rate of chinook caught and/or released when it closed on Feb. 22 the day after the three-day Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby.
State fisheries managers announced last week to reopen Area 6 from March 12 through March 18 with a one hatchery-marked chinook daily limit.
“Based on how the season ended (in Area 6) and variety of other factors we feel comfortable to allow a limited fishery without going over of objectives,” said Ryan Lothrop, a state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound recreational salmon manager.
State and tribal managers agreed to 2,586 chinook encounters – fish kept or released – in eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, and preliminary estimates have revealed they’ve reached 90 percent of the encounters.
Northern Puget Sound (Area 9) catch rates were also starting to climb, but nothing was discussed or will change for now. When the weather allows salmon fishing success has been spotty at Possession Bar, Point No Point, Pilot Point, Point No Point, Marrowstone Island, Double Bluff off Whidbey Island and Port Townsend area.
The western Strait of Juan de Fuca (Area 5) off Sekiu is a good option for angler looking at an early spring marine salmon fishing option.
Angler pressure was light, and there was a good presence of baitfish and chinook from the Caves area just west of the marina to the mouth of the Hoko River.