There has been a definite yo-yo effect on the coastal chinook salmon fishery this summer.
At first state Fish and Wildlife raised the chinook daily limit to two fish at Westport and Ilwaco earlier this month, and then nine days later they reduced it back to one daily.
Then by mid-August they reduced the number of days to fish off Westport to five days per week after catch rates skyrocketed. By the third week of August state fisheries decided to go to non-retention of chinook to slow down the catch rates yet again.
It was enough to drive many anglers crazy and angry with frustration.
When I talked in the middle of this month with Pat Pattillo, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator, he did stress to me that it was most important to create enough opportunity for ocean anglers, but yet keep everything in check so as not to go over catch quotas and to allow anglers ample time to prepare for trips to the coast.
Well now another change is on the table, and beginning on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5) anglers fishing off the coast can once again catch and keep one chinook salmon daily.
Pattillo said updated harvest data show that ocean catch rates slowed enough prior to the chinook closure on Monday (Aug. 29) to allow anglers to resume catching chinook salmon Sept. 5.
“When we announced the chinook closure, harvest rates were at record levels,” Pattillo said in a news release. “Since then, the catch has slowed substantially and we’re confident that we can keep the fishery open through the end of the season.”
As of Aug. 28, coastwide catch totals for the sport fishery had reached 91 percent of the annual 30,100-fish chinook quota, and 59 percent of the 67,200-fish coho quota, Pattillo said.
Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in Marine Areas 2 (Westport), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). All four areas are open for salmon fishing seven days a week.
Anglers fishing in all ocean areas can currently catch up to two marked, hatchery coho daily, and those fishing in marine areas 3 and 4 can also catch one additional pink salmon per day. Starting on Labor Day, they will again be able to substitute a chinook for one coho in their daily catch.
(Photos taken by Cyndi Lanier and Westport Charters)