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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 13, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Spot shrimp season in Puget Sound should be good

In case you missed it in the Sunday paper here is the lowdown on the spot shrimp fishery:

Changes are coming for the popular inner-sound spot-shrimp fishery this spring.

The season again will open on the first Saturday in May (May 5), but unlike past years, won’t reopen on the following Wednesday. Instead, it will reopen on May 11, a Friday.

Mark O’Toole, a state Fish and Wildlife shellfish biologist, says an extreme low tide May 9 coincides with the closing time of the fishery in Hood Canal at 1 p.m., and some other parts of Puget Sound at 3 p.m.

“The timing of the low tide would make it difficult for shrimpers to retrieve their boats from many launch sites where the water line would be way down in the mud or gravel,” O’Toole said. “We really don’t want to leave anyone stuck at the ramp.”

Moving the second shrimping date will avoid the tidal situation, but it does have a potential drawback.

“Those areas open for a four-day season like Hood Canal would get back-to-back days (May 11-12) of fishing,” O’Toole said. “So we could potentially see a higher fishing effort, and they might not get an extra fifth day of fishing like we’ve seen in past years.”

In most inner-marine areas, tasty, prawn-sized spot shrimp populations and catch rates have remained relatively stable in recent years.

“Last year was universally good for spot shrimp almost everywhere that had a season,” O’Toole said.

In coming weeks, state Fish and Wildlife will conduct test fisheries to determine shrimp abundance.

“The test fishery we’ll get out of the way first is Discovery Bay, because it is scheduled to open, pending test-fishing results,” O’Toole said. “Our usual test fishing will go through early April, when we’ll have all our assessments done.”

As in past years, anglers can expect the spot shrimp season to be short, but sweet.

Areas that have been fairly good are Hood Canal, Elliott Bay, Vashon Island/Des Moines, Bainbridge Island, Everett/Mukilteo, Saratoga Passage, San Juan Islands, Iceberg Point off Lopez Island and the exposed eastern Straits like Salmon Bank.

Discovery Bay catches were down last year, and the shrimp were smaller than other fishing spots.

In all inner-marine areas, the daily limit is 80 spot shrimp.

Spot shrimp seasons for various areas of Puget Sound are:

Hood Canal Shrimp District (Marine Area 12): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 5, 11, 12 and 16.

Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Marine Area 6): Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5, 11, 12 and 16.

Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 and 13 (excluding shrimp districts): Open daily beginning May 5 at 7 a.m. The spot shrimp season closes when the quota is attained or Sept. 15, whichever comes first. The exception is Marine Area 13, which closes for spot shrimp May 31.

Marine Area 7: Opens May 5 at 7 a.m. and will be open May 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19.

Marine areas 8, 9, 10 and 11: Open May 5 and May 11 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additional dates and times will be announced for these areas if sufficient quota remains.

For specific opening dates and hours, go to the state Fish and Wildlife’s shrimp page website.

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