Word around the docks, marinas and boat ramps of northern and central Puget Sound is that the hatchery-marked king fishery that has been open since July 16 is on the verge of closing very soon, which is totally false.
In fact those who’ve spent time on the water the past week know that the fishing action has been lackluster peppered with a few glory moments for some lucky anglers.
“I’m only averaging three to four fish per day (of either hatchery kings or coho), and it’s totally shocking that I only checked eight boats (Tuesday morning),” said Pete Sergeef, a state Fish and Wildlife checker at the Don Armeni ramp in West Seattle. “A lot of guys have dropped out of the fishery and seem to moving to other places where fishing is better.”
“To be honest this could be a godsend and will keep the season open that much longer,” Sergeef said. “Now with that said it could change quickly if the fish show up.”
State Fish and Wildlife has released the catch estimates for both areas of Puget Sound, and the numbers reflect just how slow the action has been.
Northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9) through Sunday, July 20 showed a catch estimate of 1,028 hatchery kings under a harvest quota of 3,218, which puts the fishery at about 32 percent of the total quota.
In central Puget Sound (Area 10) it has been a little slower with a catch estimate of 203 hatchery kings through Sunday, July 20 under a harvest quota of 1,112, which puts that fishery at about 18 percent.
The state Fish and Wildlife test fishing boat in northern Puget Sound has been working the Midchannel Bank area near Port Townsend (an area that has been hot the past two seasons), and they’ve caught eight kings through Tuesday with a mark rate of 70 percent.
The Area 10 test fishing boat has caught only three chinook so far and is pretty much mimicking what the rest of the sport fleet has encountered since the opener. All the fish the test boat caught were of hatchery origin.
In south central Puget Sound (Area 11) the catch estimate through July 13 is 980 hatchery kings.
In fact the turnout has been so slow that the Harbor Marine Salmon Tournament in Everett on July 26-27 has been cancelled due to a lack of ticket sales.