To protect off-limits summer Chinook, Skagit salmon anglers will have to switch to single, barbless hooks and won’t be allowed to use bait or scent in certain parts of the river.
The selective-gear switch goes into effect in two stages, July 5 and July 16, “anywhere there is not an open and legal salmon fishery. It’s outside the sockeye, coho and spring Chinook fisheries,” says an annoyed and frustrated Brett Barkdull, the state fisheries biologist for the area.
The change was prompted by “anglers .. abusing the gamefish rules and specifically targeting Chinook salmon, leading to increased mortality,” according to an emergency rule-change notice out from WDFW this afternoon
“There’s a large contingent of folks who think it’s OK to target Chinook. You’ll see 10 to 30 guys on the lower river. A lot are letting fish go; others are playing hide-and-seek. The game’s been going on long enough. It’s not OK to go fish for Chinook,” says Barkdull. “If this doesn’t work, we’re going to close it … We’re going to start losing opportunity if people don’t behave. We just can’t keep beating on Chinook.”
There haven’t been enough summer/fall kings the past two years to open a fishery on them.
Here’s WDFW’s e-reg:
Action: Selective gear rules, with a maximum hook gap of ½ inch required.
Species affected: All species of fish.
Location and effective Dates:
The Skagit River from the mouth to the Highway 536 Bridge at Mt Vernon (Memorial Highway Bridge), July 5 through August 31.
The Skagit River from the Highway 536 Bridge to Gilligan Creek, July 16 through August 31.
The Skagit River from Gilligan Creek to The Dalles Bridge at Concrete, July 5 through Sept 15.
The Skagit River from the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport, July 5 through Sept 15.
The Skagit River from Highway 530 Bridge to Cascade River Road (Marblemount Bridge), July 16 through Sept 15.
Reasons for action: The gear restriction will reduce incidental hooking mortality of chinook salmon listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Anglers are abusing the gamefish rules and specifically targeting chinook salmon, leading to increased mortality.
Other information: Fishing rules will revert back to seasons as listed in the Sport fishing Rules 2012/2013 pamphlet edition, FISHING IN WASHINGTON after the listed end date of the emergency rule change.