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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Salmon anglers off the coast can expect another good chinook fishery, but the outlook remains cloudy for coho

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The state and federal fisheries managers have come up with three ocean salmon fishing catch-quota options, and it looks like anglers can expect another decent chinook fishery coastwide.

“I’m optimistic we’ll have a pretty good chinook fishery for the third year in a row,” said Mark Cedergreen, president of the Westport Charterboat Association.

“On the other hand coho aren’t in good shape, and that will affect fishing in the ocean,” Cedergreen said.

Three ocean salmon-fishing options approved by the PFMC anticipate a strong fall chinook return in the ocean, but a down year for Columbia River hatchery coho.

About 651,000 fall chinook are expected to the Columbia River, which is similar to the past two years. A significant portion of that run — nearly 191,000 — is expected to be lower river hatchery chinook, which traditionally have been the backbone of the recreational ocean chinook fishery.

An estimated 317,000 coho also are expected to return to the Columbia River this year, about 45,000 fish below last year’s projection. Columbia River coho also account for a significant portion of the ocean catch.

The sport fishing catch-quota choices are:

Option one is 51,500 chinook and 71,400 hatchery coho.

Option two is 45,500 chinook and 63,000 hatchery coho.

Option three is 35,500 chinook and 54,600 hatchery coho.

Last year’s sport fishing quotas were 33,700 chinook and 67,200 hatchery coho.

For the third year in a row the highly popular mid-June hatchery-marked selective fishery is on the table in two of the options.

The mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require them to release wild salmon.

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Under each option for this year, the ocean sport fishery would vary:

In option one: Salmon fishing would begin with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook June 9-22 at Ilwaco (Marine Area 1), and June 16-30 at Westport (2), La Push (3) and Neah Bay (4).

In all areas, the fishery would be open daily with a two hatchery chinook daily limit (all coho and wild chinook must be released). The fishery could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook is achieved.

The remaining summer ocean sport fishery would then begin June 23 at Ilwaco, and July 1 in the three other coastal areas. Daily limit would be two salmon at La Push and Neah Bay. Those fishing Ilwaco and Westport would also have a two-salmon daily limit, but could keep only one chinook daily. In all areas, the fishery would be open daily.

In option two: Salmon fishing would begin June 16 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all ocean areas. The fishery would be daily, with a two hatchery chinook daily limit, through June 22 off Ilwaco and through June 23 at Westport, La Push and Neah Bay. The fishery could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 6,000 hatchery chinook is reached.

The remaining summer ocean sport fishery would then open for chinook and hatchery-marked coho on June 23 at Ilwaco, and June 24 at Westport, La Push and Neah Bay. Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay would be open daily, and Westport would be open Sunday through Thursday. Anglers fishing all four marine areas would be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit.

In option three: Salmon fishing season for chinook and hatchery-marked coho would be open July 3 through Sept. 23 on a Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule at La Push and Neah Bay. At Westport, fishing would be open July 1 through Sept. 23 on a Sunday-through-Thursday schedule. At Ilwaco, fishing would be open daily June 30 through Sept. 30. All four coastal areas would have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which could be a chinook.

Upcoming Salmon Planning Meeting Schedule

Monday, March 12, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., North of Falcon Meeting to Develop Inside Fishery proposals matching ocean proposals at WDFW Offices in Olympia at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Room 172.

Tuesday, March 13, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Coastal Regional Public Meeting Willapa Bay fishery discussion at the Raymond Elks Lodge – 326 3rd St. in Raymond.

Wednesday, March 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Columbia River Public Meeting commercial & sport fishery discussions in Vancouver, Washington, Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way in Vancouver.

Thursday, March 15, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Puget Sound salmon fisheries discussion at City Hall Council Chamber, 321 E. 5th Street in Port Angeles.

Tuesday, March 20, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Coastal Regional Public Meeting Grays Harbor fisheries discussion at Grays Harbor Montesano City Hall, 112 North Main Street in Montesano.

Wednesday, March 21, 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Pre-season Columbia Basin salmon forecasts and fishery outlook, Benton PUD, 2721 West 10th Avenue in Kennewick.

Saturday, March 24, 10 a.m.-Noon, Puget Sound Recreational salmon fisheries discussion at state Fish and Wildlife Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd. in Mill Creek.

Monday, March 26, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., North of Falcon Meeting for Columbia River and Ocean discussions at WDFW Offices in Olympia at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Room 172.

Monday, March 26, 7 p.m., Public Hearing on Ocean Salmon Management Options, at the Chateau Westport, 710 West Hancock in Westport.

Wednesday, March 28, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., North of Falcon Meeting for Puget Sound discussion on inside salmon seasons and regulations at Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Ave. West in Lynnwood.

Friday, March 30, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Coastal Regional Final public discussion of Willapa Bay & Grays Harbor salmon seasons at WDFW Offices in Olympia at Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Room 172.

Sunday to Friday, April 1-6, all-day, Pacific Fishery Management Council all ocean and inside salmon fisheries finalized at Seattle Sheraton Hotel, 1400 Sixth Ave. in Seattle.

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