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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 28, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Latest salmon fishing season setting meeting takes on a gloomy mood

The state Fish and Wildlife salmon season setting meeting today (Wednesday, March 28) at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites took on a rather somber mood among the sport fishing constituents.

It almost had that feeling of a kid making up their “Christmas Wish List” only to find out that Santa couldn’t deliver on anything or very minimal offerings at best.

Last month, sport fishing constituents met with state Fish and Wildlife officials to see what expansions could be made in marine salmon fisheries for the 2012-13 season.

Those included moving up the opening date of the popular northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9) hatchery chinook fishery from July 16 to July 1; and expanding and changing the winter time period at Port Angeles, south central Puget Sound and Hood Canal (6, 11 and 12) to a marked hatchery chinook fishery.

What came to light at the Lynnwood meeting was mid-Hood Canal chinook returns are so poor that savings would be necessary across the board.

In the new proposal drafted later in the afternoon state Fish and Wildlife left off the early opening of Area 9, and eliminated the winter hatchery-marked selective chinook fishery in south central Puget Sound (Area 11).

“We might consider a coho only fishery that starts July 1 in Area 9 to match up with the Area 10 coho only fishery,” said Pat Pattillo, the state Fish and Wildlife salmon policy coordinator.

Other changes still in the draft are converting Port Angeles (Area 6) and Hood Canal (12) to hatchery-marked selective chinook fisheries during the winter season.

“What it all means is that we’ll have to curtail fisheries somewhere,” Pattillo said.

Many who aren’t familiar with how salmon seasons are set would be astounded to know that saving what amounts to about 51 mid-Hood Canal wild chinook could mean cutbacks or no changes in salmon fishing seasons for not only sport, but non-tribal and tribal fishermen as well.

Some other minor changes brought up in the proposals for marine sport fishing areas is considering a two-pole endorsement for the Tulalip Bay and Willapa Bay salmon fisheries.

State Fish and Wildlife met this afternoon with tribal fisheries managers to discuss the new fishing options.

A coastal regional public discussion is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, March 30 at the state Fish and Wildlife Natural Resources Building on Olympia.

Final seasons will be adopted at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting April 1-6 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.

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