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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 9, 2011 at 5:18 PM

Three ocean salmon fishing options come to light

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The Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting ended today (March 9), and fisheries managers came up with three options to consider for ocean sport salmon fisheries.

The coho quotas look fairly similar to last year, but chinook quotas are expected to be down somewhat.

“The smaller quota for chinook is due to a lower escapement goal for Lower Columbia wild chinook stocks,” said Larry Giese, owner of Deep Sea Charters in Westport. “We’ll still have a pretty good fishing season, and right now they’re looking at ways to dampen the effect of fisheries on those wild stocks.”

Despite an expected increase in chinook abundance, the federal panel approved tighter restrictions to protect wild salmon stocks and meet conservation goals, Phil Anderson, director of state Fish and Wildlife said in a news release.

“Our first priority is to meet crucial conservation objectives for wild salmon,” said Anderson. “The ocean options approved today are designed to meet or exceed those goals.”

Just like last year, two options include a hatchery-marked chinook fishery that would begin in early June.

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.

Option one is the most liberal sport quota with 52,000 chinook and 79,800 hatchery-marked coho (only those with a missing adipose fin may be kept).

Option two would be 42,000 chinook and 67,200 hatchery-marked coho. Option three is the lower end with a 32,000 chinook and 54,600 hatchery-marked coho.

While the quota numbers are down this coming season in the ocean, anglers only need to look at last year’s figures where only 57 percent of the 67,200 hatchery coho quota and 74.4 percent of the 61,000 chinook was caught during the entire season.

In option one: The sport salmon fishing season would begin June 4 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook at Westport (Areas 2), La Push (3) and Neah Bay (4). In Ilwaco, the season would begin June 11. The selective fishery would be open everyday with a two salmon daily limit through June 25 or until 12,000 hatchery chinook are retained.

Neah Bay and La Push would be open daily from June 26 to Sept. 18 or until quota is achieved (La Push would also have a sub quota fishery in late September); Westport would be open Sundays to Thursdays from June 26 to Sept. 18 or until the quota is achieved; and Ilwaco would be open daily from June 26 to Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved. Anglers would have a daily limit of two salmon. In Areas 2, 3 and 4, anglers would also be allowed to retain two additional pink salmon.

In option two: The sport salmon fishing season would begin June 11 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all ocean areas. The fishery would be open everyday with a two salmon daily limit through June 25 in Area 1 and through June 30 in Areas 2, 3 and 4 or until 12,000 hatchery chinook are retained.

Neah Bay and La Push would be open daily from July 1 to Sept. 18 or until quota is achieved (La Push would also have a sub quota fishery in late September); Westport would be open Sundays to Thursdays from July 3 to Sept. 18 or until the quota is achieved; and Ilwaco would be open daily from June 26 to Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved. Anglers fishing those marine areas would be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also would be allowed one additional pink salmon each day in Areas 2, 3 and 4.

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In option three: Sport salmon fisheries would begin with mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook and hatchery coho. Those fisheries would get under way June 24 in Areas 3 and 4; June 26 in Area 2; and July 3 in Area 1. Wild chinook retention would be allowed beginning in late July.

Neah Bay and La Push would be open Tuesdays to Saturdays from June 24 to Sept. 18 or until quota is achieved (La Push would also have a sub quota fishery in late September); Westport would be open Sundays to Thursdays from June 26 to Sept. 18 or until the quota is achieved; and Ilwaco would be open from July 3 to Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved, and fishing will be open daily on July 3-31 and September 1-30, and Sundays to Thursdays in August.

In all the options the Buoy-10 salmon fishery at the Columbia River mouth will open Aug. 1. An expected strong return of 310,800 upriver bright fall chinook should make for some excellent late summer fishing from Buoy-10 upstream.

The next discussion for salmon fishing seasons in Puget Sound is the North of Falcon meeting 9 a.m. March 15 at the General Administration Building, 210 11th Ave. S.W. in Olympia. All West Coast salmon fishing seasons will be made April 9-14 at a meeting in San Mateo, Calif.

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