The chinook salmon fishing off the coast, mainly at Westport, this past week has been so good that state Fish and Wildlife decided to take action before the sport catch quota gets gobbled up to quickly.
In other words, state Fish and Wildlife decided to go back to a five days per week salmon fishery off Westport. Salmon fishing will be closed on Fridays and Saturdays starting this Friday, Aug. 19 and Saturday, Aug. 20.
“The chinook catches were phenomenal this past week, and we had 7,700 chinook caught in all ports combined,” said Pat Pattillo, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator. “That number was way beyond our highest (one week) catch total last year which was 6,500.”
To compound the matter anglers off Westport caught 5,300 of those 7,700 kings.
“This is an amazing year and to think (two weeks ago) we felt comfortable to go to a two-chinook (daily) bag limit, and then we had super effort in Westport, and catches went off the charts with more than one chinook per angler,” Pattillo said. “Then (last week) we decided to go back to a one chinook daily bag limit (starting this past Sunday), and saw a significant reduction in catch, but effort was still high. So the damage was done quickly.”
“We are frighteningly close to the (chinook) quota, and hope by going to five days a week will slow it down,” Pattillo said. “We are going to have to be creative to extend the season as much as possible.”
Fisheries officials would not be surprised if further adjustments are necessary by next week, and plan to meet again with sport fishing constituents on Friday, Aug. 19.
“The hope is we can get as much of a season as possible, and there are now a fair number of coho around,” Pattillo said.
At Westport there is still about 15,000 hatchery coho left to catch, although at places like Ilwaco the coho catch is ramping up fast with 6,400 caught for the week ending Sunday, Aug. 14.
“The perfect weather has also lead to an increase in effort at Westport, and the bar (off Ilwaco) at the Columbia River mouth,” Pattillo said.
Chinook catches are Ilwaco also jumped from 700 last week, and it more than doubled this past week to 1,700.
Anglers can still fish for salmon daily off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).
Anglers at Westport and Ilwaco may keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.
Anglers fishing in ocean waters off La Push and Neah Bay that they can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit. Anglers fishing marine areas 3 and 4 are also allowed one additional pink salmon each day.
Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.
(Photo courtesy of Westport Charters)