The northern coastal nontribal commercial chinook troll fishery was just starting to see an increase and then a storm blew them off the ocean.
“The trollers had got into them just before the storm hit, and had a couple of good days of fishing and some pretty good hits,” said Doug Milward, the state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager.
“They were sitting good until the weekend, and licking their chops and the rumor was the fish were everywhere,” Milward said. “Although that wasn’t the case for everyone as you can tell by how the (May 10-11) sport fishery went at Neah Bay and La Push. Catches are really light in the sport fishery, and all the fish are farther from shore. The fish tend to be deep at first.”
The data at La Push had 143 anglers with four hatchery chinook for 0.14 chinook per angler trip; and Neah Bay had 629 anglers with 72 hatchery chinook for 0.11 chinook per angler trip. The hatchery chinook fishery at both areas reopens this Friday and Saturday (May 17-18) only.
“The good news is there are fish up (off the northern coast), and things did get better,” Milward said. “We also saw some fish coming out of Westport, where trollers had been catching 10 to 15 daily and sometimes as high as 20 fish. That is not stellar but not too bad if you think about it.”
So far, the trollers have caught 5,000 chinook with a catch quota of 29,300 for May and June fishery.
Milward also points out that the fish are getting bigger than when the fishery first started and they averaged 8 pounds.
“The fish are getting a little bigger and their size is improving, and it is usually around now that the small fish start to go away,” Milward said. “Once that storm hit you have to reset the button, and the trollers will need to search the pasture again. The good news is the storm could have warmed up the water, and the third and fourth week of May is when the fishery tends to take off, and were coming right into that.”
The selective hatchery-marked chinook fishery at Neah Bay and La Push is open May 10-11 and May 17-18.
The early summer hatchery chinook fishery will be open daily on June 8-22 off Ilwaco and Westport, June 22-28 at La Push and Neah Bay. Last year, this early summer fishery generated close to a chinook per rod average for most of the time it was open.
Full summer salmon fishing seasons for chinook and hatchery coho will open right after the early summer season.