Follow us:

Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 15, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Salmon fishing seasons set, and outlook will mirror last year for the most part

The Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings ended Thursday in Portland, Ore., and the 2010-11 sport salmon fishing seasons will pretty much look like year’s although anglers won’t have the pink fishery since they return during odd-numbered years only.

Last year, marked the historic expansion of selective fishing for healthy stocks of hatchery-marked salmon (those with a missing adipose fin) in Puget Sound while protecting and releasing poor wild fish returns some of which are listed on the Endangered Species Act.

“The gargantuan movement to selective fisheries, and added fishing time in 2009 was a huge step,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and a state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board member.

“Our objective was to maintain what we got (in 2009) with the exception of Elliott Bay and the Green River,” Floor said. “What I see is we ended up with pretty much a status quo of sport fisheries in Puget Sound (for the 2010-2011 season). In the big picture it is a continuing win in the sport fishing community.”

The main highlight this summer and fall is a June 12-30 selective chinook fishery off the coast from Ilwaco to Neah Bay. The daily limit will be two hatchery-marked chinook.

“This will be the first ever marked selective chinook fishery in the ocean, and we’ve been in a constant engagement with the tribes on this issue,” said Pat Pattillo, the head state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator. “It worked out well to provide this selective fishery in the ocean to the recreational salmon anglers.”

Nearly 653,000 fall chinook are forecasted to return to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more chinook than the number returning last year.

The strong chinook forecast allowed a sport chinook catch quota on the coast of 61,000 chinook compared to 20,500 last year.

While the chinook forecast is much improved, the Columbia River coho return is predicted to be down this year with aout 390,000 coho forecasted compared to one million last year, which was the largest return in nearly a decade.

The coastal sport coho catch quota is 67,200 coho, compared to 176,400 last year.

The sport coastal salmon fisheries for chinook and coho will begin July 1 off La Push, Neah Bay and Ilwaco, and July 4 off Westport.

All areas will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. As in past years, only hatchery coho salmon with a clipped adipose fin can be retained in coastal fisheries.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Sekiu anglers will enjoy opportunities in late September for a non-select (marked and unmarked) coho fishery, plus a November winter chinook fishery.

In Hood Canal, the Skokomish River will be going to a hatchery marked chinook fishery, and opens Aug. 1.

In order to avoid conflicts with the tribal netters, sport fishing will be closed Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, and Sept. 13 above the Highway 106 Bridge.

Another change in the Skokomish is a new rule that states anglers can keep fish that are hooked in or around the mouth only to prevent snagging. Anglers will also be required to not release any hatchery chinook they hook.

State Fish and Wildlife plans to release full details on specific sport fishing seasons sometime early next week.

Here is the state Fish and Wildlife press release below:

PORTLAND – Salmon anglers will have improved fishing opportunities for chinook on the coast and in the Columbia River, while most recreational fisheries in Puget Sound will be similar to seasons adopted last year, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Washington’s 2010 salmon fishing seasons, developed by WDFW and treaty Indian tribal co-managers, were approved today during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) meeting in Portland. The fishing package defines regulations for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean and coastal areas.

“This comprehensive package of fisheries meets our conservation goals for wild salmon populations, while providing a variety of salmon fishing opportunities on abundant stocks,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW Director. “Developing these fishing opportunities wouldn’t be possible without strong cooperation between the state, the tribes and our constituents.”

One of the most promising opportunities this year will be fishing for chinook salmon on the coast and in the Columbia River, said Anderson.

Nearly 653,000 fall chinook are forecasted to return to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more chinook than the number returning last year. The increased numbers represent strong returns to Spring Creek and other Columbia River hatcheries, which traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

As a result of the anticipated run, the PFMC today adopted a recreational ocean quota this year of 61,000 chinook. That’s well above the 2009 ocean chinook quota of 20,500.

The PFMC also implemented a pilot mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in Washington’s ocean areas. Mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild salmon.

The selective fishery for hatchery chinook in marine areas 1-4 will run from June 12-30. Anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook.

“This is the first season we will have a selective fishery for hatchery chinook in the ocean,” said Anderson. “By using this management tool we can meet our conservation goals and give anglers an additional opportunity to fish for hatchery chinook in the ocean.”

While the chinook forecast is up, the Columbia River coho return is expected to be down this year. Nearly 390,000 Columbia River coho are projected to make their way along Washington’s coast this summer, compared to one million coho in 2009 – the largest return in nearly a decade.

The PFMC, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific Coast, set a recreational coho harvest quota of 67,200 coho. Last year’s ocean coho quota was 176,400.

Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and coho will begin July 1 off LaPush, Neah Bay and Ilwaco and July 4 off Westport.

All areas will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. As in past years, only hatchery coho salmon with a clipped adipose fin can be retained in ocean fisheries.

In the Columbia River, the Buoy 10 fishery will be open for chinook and coho beginning Aug. 1. Through August, anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. From Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two fish, but must release chinook.

The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for recreational salmon fishing from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their daily bag limit. Beginning Sept. 12, chinook retention will only be allowed upstream of the Lewis River.

In Puget Sound, most salmon fisheries in the marine areas will be similar to last season, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for WDFW.

However, one major change for 2010 will occur in the Elliott Bay chinook fishery. Responding to a low forecast of Green River wild chinook, fishery managers reduced the Elliott Bay recreational fishery from four days each week to three – Friday through Sunday, said Pattillo. The fishery is scheduled to begin July 2, but salmon fishing after Aug. 8 will be closed unless in-season tests show the run is large enough to meet spawning goals for wild chinook.

In the freshwater, the Skokomish River fishery was converted to a selective fishery for hatchery chinook this year to meet conservation goals for wild chinook, said Pattillo. The Skokomish, from the mouth of the river to the Highway 101 Bridge, will be open from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30 with a two salmon-daily limit, but anglers must release wild chinook and chum.

In addition, state and tribal fishery managers altered their fishing seasons on the Skokomish River to avoid gear conflicts, said Pattillo. The Skokomish River upstream of the Highway 106 Bridge will be closed to sportfishing each Monday from Aug. 1 through Sept. 13 (with the exception of Sept. 6) to ensure treaty tribal fishers can fish unimpeded, he said.

To avoid similar gear conflicts, the recreational fishery on the Puyallup River also was changed, said Pattillo. This summer, a portion of the Puyallup River – upstream of Freeman Road – will open for salmon fishing Aug. 1, about two weeks earlier than last year. Downstream of Freeman Road will remain closed to salmon fishing until Aug. 16, when it will open for fishing seven days a week except closed Aug. 22, 29, 30 and Sept. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14.

“We worked closely with the Puyallup Tribe to develop fisheries on the Puyallup River that maintain opportunities for anglers and tribal fishers, and help increase safety,” said Pattillo.

Here is joint statement by the tribes and state below:

A package of 2010 salmon fisheries designed to protect weak salmon runs while still providing limited harvest opportunities for treaty tribal and state sport and commercial fishers was completed by the co-managers today in Portland.

The conservation-based package focuses state and tribal salmon fishing opportunities on abundant runs of wild and hatchery salmon expected to return to Washington’s waters this year. Those include coho returns to portions of Puget Sound, and fall chinook making their way along the coast to the Columbia River.

While these and other runs are expected to provide good fishing opportunities this summer, state and tribal salmon fisheries throughout Washington’s waters will continue to be constrained to protect weak salmon stocks.

“This package of state and tribal salmon fisheries reflects the co-managers continuing commitment to recover depressed salmon populations,” said Phil Anderson, WDFW director. “As we continue to work toward that goal, we will ensure that our salmon fisheries meet or exceed conservation objectives for wild salmon.”

Overall, state and tribal salmon fishing opportunities this year in Puget Sound and on the coast will be similar to last year. But there will be some changes.

Unlike last year, there will not be state and tribal fisheries for summer chinook on the Skagit River because of low salmon returns expected back to the river this year. Last summer, anglers and tribal fishers had limited fishing opportunities for chinook on the Skagit River – the first summer chinook opener in 16 years.

“The returns just aren’t there to support summer chinook fisheries in the Skagit this year,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the Swinomish Tribe. “As important as these fisheries are to all of us, we must conserve these salmon for the good of the resource and future generations.”

Restoring and protecting salmon spawning and rearing habitat also is critical to rebuilding salmon stocks, said state and tribal co-managers.

“Conservative fisheries must go hand-in-hand with habitat restoration and protection so that we can continue to progress toward our goal of salmon recovery,” Loomis said.

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►