Samish River salmon anglers, you will get to decide if you continue to fish for Chinook and coho in mid- and late September.
It is totally up to you.
Clean river banks, an orderly fishery and attention to posted lands means the North Sound stream stays open and hatchery salmon keep hitting your barbecues and smokehouses.
But if the wardens’ pens run dry, tackle packaging and Fido doots sully the shores, and boot tracks stomp behind no-trespassing signs, like they have in recent seasons, it will be a no-go.
It’s a new approach WDFW is taking this year with the lower Samish, which has become a headache for fish and wildlife officers and fishery biologists.
A couple weeks ago we wrote about the problems in a blog entitled Between a rock and hard place on a very muddy river.
As part of the annual salmon-season-setting process earlier this month, agency staffers were trying to figure out a solution.
Just increase commercial netting out in Samish Bay to reduce the number of salmon that even make the Samish and thus reduce sport angling usage?
Get draconian and pinch things off without more warning?
Or give anglers one last chance?
It appears that that last one is the path forward.
This year’s salmon regulations for the Northwest Washington stream will feature a very unusual caveat.
The first part will be pretty standard — open August through early September, daily limit two, only fish hooked inside the mouth can be kept, single-point hooks only, night closure, typical stuff.
But the second will say something along these lines about continued fishing this fall:
Salmon fishery may reopen pending an evaluation of angler behavior, regulation compliance, littering, and trespassing.
It’s never been done before. Usually if there’s any question about a fishery when WDFW prints the regs in early spring, it’s something like “pending inseason return update” or whatever, not dependent on how we treat the opportunity and landscape.
Who knows, maybe with this year’s predicted abundance of snappy pink salmon in the salt and local rivers at roughly the same time, pressure on the Samish will disperse elsewhere and it will be a nonissue.
Either way, legitimate anglers who want to continue harvesting the bounty of the Samish should step up to keep their fishery from being trashed — then closed.
For good if this doesn’t work.