The ocean salmon fishery continues to gain steam at all coastal ports, and some changes to regulations could be on the near horizon.
Word is spreading that the salmon fishery off Westport could open daily (currently open Sundays to Thursdays only) starting as soon as Aug. 1, and the coast wide limit for chinook could increase from the current one to two daily, according to Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
The possible more liberal fisheries and bag limits are related to chinook catches off the coast that were about half of what was expected in recent weeks due to bad weather, and a lower angler turnout that is partially blamed on the tough economy.
When seasons are set annually in April, state fish and Wildlife makes it a priority to keep the coastal fisheries open all summer or as long as possible.
There is a balancing act that needs to be kept in check so coastal ports don’t go over their salmon catch quotas leading fisheries officials to have to prematurely shutdown the fishing seasons.
State Fish and Wildlife has a tentative conference call scheduled for Thursday, July 28.
In the meantime, catches at Neah Bay when you add pinks into the equation was about 1.4 fish per rod this past week.
“A little under half the catch was pinks at Neah Bay, and there are more (hatchery-marked) coho than chinook,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon biologist.
Just to the south at La Push it was about 1.2 fish per person average, and about half the catch was pinks followed by hatchery coho and chinook.
“At Westport they had a 1.1 fish average last week, and they’ve been having some really good days and some not so good days,” Beeghly said. “Half the catch was coho along with a few pinks thrown in.”
The catch at Ilwaco was just under one fish per rod, and the catch is dominated by hatchery coho right now.
Beeghly says there were some tuna trips out of Westport, and they saw the first charter boats trip this week where anglers averaged six tuna per rod. Private tuna boats weren’t doing as well, but getting three tuna per rod.
The Oregon Tuna Classic is Aug. 6 at the Port of Ilwaco. Details: www.oregontunaclassic.org/ilwaco.php.
Halibut fishing also opens at Ilwaco on Aug. 5, and will be open Fridays to Sundays until the catch quota is achieved.