The southern coast and its bays will be a hot bed during late summer and early fall for salmon anglers.
New this season will be a two-pole salmon fishing endorsement allowed when Willapa Bay opens Aug. 1 to Jan. 31. The new rule will allow each angler in Marine Catch Area 2-1 to fish with two poles when fishing for salmon only from a floating device.
“This will be a great year to implement the two-pole endorsement with the good abundance of hatchery chinook, and hatchery and natural coho,” said Kirt Hughes, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
“There is some concern with potential impacts on the ocean so we’ll be enforcing the boundary line pretty hard,” Hughes said.
This year’s forecast for Willapa Bay is 45,739 chinook (5,221 are of wild origin), and 170,099 coho (88,774 are of wild origin). That leaves about 31,464 chinook and 150,909 coho available for harvest between sport and commercial fisherman.
Just up the coast from Willapa is Grays Harbor wherea decent forecast will allow a chinook directed fishery in Grays Harbor (Area 2-2) from Sept. 16-Oct. 7, which will be the first time in about four or five years.
Anglers will also be able to keep chinook in the Chehalis River mainstem from Oct. 1-31. The daily limit during those periods will be three salmon of which only one may be a chinook and up to two wild coho.
The fall forecast in Grays Harbor is 25,620 wild chinook and 4,086 hatchery chinook, and 138,997 wild coho and 45,238 hatchery coho.
“The timing between when Grays Harbor opens its fishery, and when the Willapa Bay commercial gill-net fleet goes in, matches up fairly nice and provides relief for the sport fishermen once those Willapa gill-nets go in,” Hughes said.
There will also be an area of Willapa Bay in the Tokeland area west of a line from Toke Point south that will be closed to gill-nets during their early opener that occurs right after the Labor Day weekend.
“We wanted to get these net free zones for some relief for sport fisheries,” Hughes said. “Essentially it provides a longer time frame where we don’t have gear conflicts between to the two groups, but also provide some additional opportunity for the commercial fleet to get in early enough to get some high quality chinook,” Hughes said.