The entire coast will see some big changes to salmon fishing regulations starting Monday, Aug. 29.
On that date anglers will need to release all chinook, and hatchery coho fishing will be open seven days a week. Ilwaco is expected to stay open through Sept. 30, and Westport, Neah Bay and La Push are open until Sept. 18.
“We tried to make it simple for once, and it is still not easy to explain, but all the areas are approaching their chinook (quota) limit,” said Pat Pattillo, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator.
“I am happy with this change, and there needs to be some certainty for people to plan their vacations,” Pattillo said. “I understand the quota management is tough and disruptive. We’ve just about squeezed the chinook quota for all its worth.”
Pattillo says there are no worries about the coastal coho catch quota at this point.
“We are not sure why there is a lack of coho and if it is a mark rate (all wild coho must be released) thing or I think there are just not as many as last year,” Pattillo said. “Now I don’t want to downplay it, and I think there is a possiblity of still catching lots of coho. Last year it ramped up in the first couple of weeks in September, and I hope it repeats itself.”
Catches of chinook have been pretty strong in the Columbia River ocean area off Ilwaco.
The chinook catch off Westport this past week was 1,400. So far this season 15,800 chinook have been caught with a 17,600 guideline. At Ilwaco they caught 2,045 chinook this past week, for a total of 5,774 with a guideline of 7,710.
At La Push they caught 409 chinook this past week, for a total of 1,315 with a guideline of 1,410. At Neah Bay they caught 378 chinook, for a total of 2,624 and a guideline of 3,330.
Currently chinook and hatchery-marked coho fishing is open, but salmon fishing is closed this Friday and Saturday at Westport only. Neah Bay, La Push and Ilwaco are open daily. Anglers at Westport and Ilwaco may keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.
(Photo courtesy of Westport Chamber of Commerce. Photo is Earnest Young of Seattle who caught this 40 pound, 6 ounce dressed king on Tuesday, Aug. 16, and won the Westport Charterboat Association’s Daily Derby prize of $500. If Young’s luck holds out, he is on the board for the Biggest Fish in August prize of $1,000 and also the Biggest Fish of the Season prize worth another $2,500, making a possible grand total of $4,000.)