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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

March 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Ocean summer salmon fishing options set and quota reflects twice as many coho compared to last year

1Buoy10Aug2012Three ocean salmon fishing catch-quota alternatives were set by state and federal fisheries officials, and anglers will see a big improvement thanks to stronger salmon forecasts headed to the Columbia River system.

“All of the fishing options really allowed us to shape fisheries without any issues, and it looks to be a good summer season on the ocean,” said Ron Warrren, the state Fish and Wildlife head policy coordinator. “Even with a higher (Canadian chinook catch interception of Columbia River bound fish) we don’t think there will be much movement (or change) in how we approach our seasons.”

In fact, the hatchery coho catch figures for this coming summer will be more than twice as large as last year’s quota.

“This salmon (season) will be one of the most significant sport fishing years off the Washington coast dating back to the all-time peak in 1977,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board member.

“This summer will definitely be a time to stay home and fish for salmon in our state,” Floor said. “Here we are in 2014, and it’s like a time machine going back to the good old days of salmon fishing.”

State fishery managers unveiled a surprisingly large Columbia River forecast last month that could be a landmark return of nearly 3 million chinook and coho.

The Columbia River fall chinook forecast of more than 1.6 million is the largest fall return since at least 1938. The Columbia coho forecast is 1.2 million coho, and could rival the 2009 coho season when about 1.05 million returned.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Sacramento this week and came up with three alternatives for ocean sport, commercial and tribal fishing seasons.

The high sport fishing quota alternative this summer is 60,000 chinook (51,500 last year) and 193,200 hatchery-marked coho (75,600 last year). The middle alternative is 58,000 (41,500) and 176,400 (71,400); and the lower end alternative is 47,500 (30,000) and 159,600 (63,000).

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HIGH ALTERNATIVE:

The selective fishery for hatchery chinook will be open daily off Ilwaco and Westport from May 31-June 20. La Push and Neah Bay will be open daily on May 16-17 and May 23-24 and May 31-June 20. Daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook.

The traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho would open daily off Ilwaco from June 21-Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained. Westport would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained. La Push would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12 with a daily limit of two salmon. Neah Bay would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 with a daily limit of two salmon.

MIDDLE ALTERNATIVE:

The selective fishery for hatchery chinook will be open daily off Ilwaco and Westport from June 7-20 with a daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook. La Push and Neah Bay will be open daily May 23-24 and June 7-20 with a daily limit of two salmon, except anglers must release coho and wild chinook.

The traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho would open daily at Ilwaco from June 21-Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained. Westport would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained. La Push would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12 with a daily limit of two salmon. Neah Bay would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 with a daily limit of two salmon.

LOW ALTERNATIVE

There would be no early summer hatchery-marked chinook fishery.

The traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho would open daily off Ilwaco from June 14-Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained. Westport would be open daily from June 15-Sept. 30 with a daily limit of two salmon, but only one chinook may be retained. La Push would be open daily from June 14-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12 with a daily limit of two salmon. Neah Bay would be open daily from June 14-Sept. 21 with a daily limit of two salmon.

Puget Sound seasons next

Now the focus turns to how state fisheries managers decide on Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca salmon fishing seasons.

“We’ve got some work to do on shaping inside Puget Sound fisheries, and even with protective measures on Thompson River (tributary of the Fraser River) coho stocks we feel we can finish those seasons and still meet the objective needs,” Warren said.

State Fish and Wildlife will discuss preliminary Puget Sound, coast and Columbia River fisheries from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. in Olympia. Final seasons will be set April 5-10. For a list of meetings, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.

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