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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

April 3, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Salmon fishing seasons for 2012-13 are finally taking shape, and could be announced soon

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The pieces of the salmon fishing season puzzle in Washington waters is starting to take shape at the Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings being held at the downtown Seattle Sheraton this week.

Word from the meetings are that the ocean salmon fisheries for Washington are about 90 percent done with fisheries managers nailing down specific catch quotas for each port.

Nothing has been set in stone just yet, and there could be last minute changes, but sources are hopeful that everything for both coastal, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound might be finalized by this Thursday afternoon or at the latest Friday.

According to Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and a state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board member, if the meetings ended today here is what the coastal salmon seasons would look like:

The Westport hatchery-marked chinook fishery would be open daily from June 9-23; Ilwaco June 9-22, and Neah Bay and La Push would start June 16 and end either June 29 or June 30. The daily catch limit would be two hatchery chinook only. Each port will have a chinook quota during the selective fisheries.

All ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will continue once the marked-selective fisheries end, and certain ports would be open daily and others five days a week. Anglers will be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit, and only hatchery-marked coho could be kept.

Each port would also have specific catch quotas for chinook and coho, and could close once those are achived. There could also be inseason updates made to liberalize daily catch limits if necessary.

“This is a real shot in the arm for the sport fishing economics on the coast, and the science says Westport is the place to be at that time in the summer,” Floor said. “The hatchery-marked selective chinook fishery started off well last year when it opened, and anglers should find the same again this summer.”

But, Floor says, “like any other piece of water you have to find the bait first, and once you do that you’ll find the king salmon.”

The inner-Puget Sound salmon fisheries have been a little more complicated to finalize, and nothing has been announced yet on specific seasons, although many are saying to expect something similar to last year without any bonus pink fisheries since they only return during odd-numbered years.

There may be a few different additions made to sport fishing in Puget Sound, but as of this time the specifics couldn’t be released unitl state fisheries officials and co-managers come to an agreement.

The sticking point for all Puget Sound fisheries is reducing the number of British Columbia’s Thompson River wild coho, which are caught by Washington anglers.

(Photo courtesy of Gerald Chew)

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