The commercial troll fishery off the southern coast at Ilwaco has been on fire in recent days, and that should bode well when the hatchery-marked selective chinook fishery opens coastwide on Saturday (May 31).
“The troll fishery is running out fish to catch, and have caught 31,000 chinook this season (which opened May 1), and we’ve already clamped down on the northern coastal fishery,” said Doug Milward, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon resource manager. “The only place it has been slow for the troller (this month) is Westport, and it traditionally starts off like that, and is now starting to pick up.”
The southern coast has about 6,000 chinook left in their catch quota, and caught about 5,000 this past week, and that included on troller who landed 464 chinook. His boat wasn’t the only one scoring kings mainly to the south of the Columbia River mouth with other boats scoring catches as high as 300 chinook.
“I have high hopes for the coastal sport salmon fishery this summer,” Milward said. “When you have a northwesterly wind it usually produces a good upwelling in the ocean. The weather is perfect with rain followed by warmer weather, and we’ve had blooms of everywhere with lots of feed. That also bodes well for the outgoing smolts who ran into good ocean conditions. This El Nino thing this year is working out better than we thought.”
The hatchery-marked chinook fishery is open Saturday (May 31) through June 13 at Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay, and could close sooner is a catch guideline of 9,000 chinook is achieved. Angler have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook over 24 inches, and must release coho and wild chinook.
“The chinook are definitely out there, and so are the coho, which looks good when the summer (chinook and hatchery coho) fishery opens (June 14),” Milward said. “Life is going to be good and so is the fishing.”
Reports out of Ilwaco are that the kings trollers were catching were averaging 12 to 15 pounds dressed (cleaned and gutted), and the fish up around Neah Bay were good-sized. The hatchery-marked rate on chinook (those with a missing adipose fin) has been higher than usual.