The agenda for next week’s Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a meaty one, and one item that is sure to draw attention is Baker sockeye.
The North Sound salmon fishery has come under scrutiny following large catch disparities in two of the past four years.
Sport anglers caught half or less than half of what local tribes did during the 2014 and 2017 seasons, and anglers like Frank Urabeck are looking for more of a 50-50 split.
He and three other sportfishing representatives will voice their concerns next Friday afternoon, after WDFW staffers brief the commission on how the Skagit River and Baker Lake fishery is managed and their take on ideas to rebalance the harvest.
A PDF posted ahead of the meeting provides many details about what will be talked about, and it appears to show that the imbalance can be greatest during years in which the run comes in below the preseason forecast. Recreational anglers fish a middle section of the lower Skagit — the tribes above and below there — and Baker Lake.
WDFW says that since 2010, the take has been roughly equal — 98,390 for treaty fishermen, 94,737 for sport anglers — but acknowledges that the harvest can become “highly skewed” in a given year and that there’s a “lack (of) timely data to adjust in-season harvest substantively.”
Agency staffers’ poposed solutions include:
• Technical Improvements
• Buffer Harvest Shares
• Conservative Preseason Planning
• Expanding River Opportunity
Each has pros and cons, with more fishing opportunity and tweaks to the forecasting model standing out, while the others face WDFW and likely tribal concerns.
Other items on the commission’s agenda include briefings on simplifying some of the sportfishing rules — primarily trout, bass, etc — northern pjke suppression efforts on Lake Roosevelt, WDFW’s proposed marketing plan, and more, plus a wolf management update and other news from Director Unsworth.