I had a chance to talk with Pat Pattillo, the assistant to the director of state Fish and Wildlife this morning, and he offered his take on the early coastal hatchery chinook fishery off Westport and Ilwaco, and what might lie ahead this summer for anglers.
“I’m really upbeat from what we’ve seen in some of our early salmon fisheries,” Pattillo said. “Usually we are sort of cautious when it comes to making such a positive note, but “oh my god” after seeing how the early ocean started off you can’t help but get tickled.”
“Maybe this is a good sign in the ocean where all the chinook live, and are doing well. I see something positive, and it appears it went well for some chinook populations and I have a tendency as a manager to breath a little more easy now.”
“We all wait for that first significant sign, and it is good and positive,” he said.
Pattillo says the Skagit River spring chinook tribal fishery went really well.
“The Upper Skagit in particularly on one day they caught twice of what they expected to do in two days of fishing,” said Pattillo who mentioned the tribes are just fishing one or two days a week. “A lot of those fish are primarily hatchery chinook.”
“There is just so much salmon fishing coming up around the corner, and even looking ahead to the Baker Lake sockeye fishery gets me upbeat,” he said.
The tribes have conducted test fisheries in the Baker River for sockeye with just one or two nets out, and they managed to catch a sockeye on the very first day.
“The main message I’d give is this is really positive news, and it might be an indicator of other salmon runs, and not just one run of fish coming through and doing well, but it is a big mix of chinook that contribute,” he said. “Plus the mark rate (on the ocean fishery that started off Westport and Ilwaco this past weekend) was good. This bodes well for all of our populations especially our coastal and Columbia River chinook this summer and fall.”
“Hopefully the good start of the ocean salmon fishery like at Westport will help their community (economically) get a kick start to their summer business,” he said.
“I can hear the airwaves already and I’m excited,” Pattillo said.