Overall, there will be seasons, though in places on salt- and freshwaters they don’t look too hot because of low forecasted returns to some rivers, potential impacts on chronically depressed Chinook stocks, efforts to rebuild three “overfished” Washington and BC coho runs, and providing for orca recovery.
On Pugetropolis streams, while WDFW is again proposing bonus limits on coho in the Nooksack system — four a day in the mainstem and North Fork, and up to six on the South Fork — there wouldn’t even be a catch-and-release fishery for pink salmon there.
In fact, there wouldn’t be any humpy fishing in rivers from the British Columbia border all the way down through the Snohomish system, traditionally among the strongest pink populations — at least until The Blob and four big fall 2015 floods hit.
Speaking of the Snoho, WDFW’s proposing just a single month of salmon fishing in it and its two major tribs, September, and only for one coho. That month’s good, but October’s better, harvest wise. The Wallace would only be open for the back half of the month, also for just one silver headed to the hatchery there.
It’s because federal overseers are pushing the state and tribes to improve silver escapement on the key system following several bad years.
But unlike 2016 when none was mentioned, at least this clause is built into WDFW’s fishery proposal: “Extension of season dependent on in-season update.”
Also in the North Sound, the agency would like to open lower Dakota Creek near Blaine for coho, as well as hold a pilot May 1-31 hatchery spring Chinook fishery on the Skagit from the mouth up to Gilligan Creek.
Baker Lake would be open starting July 6 for three sockeye a day, the Samish Aug. 1-Oct. 31 for Chinook and hatchery coho
As for the potential Stillaguamish coho season, that is TBD after comanager discussions, according to WDFW’s literature.
Further south, salmon fishing on the Green-Duwamish could open Aug. 20 below I-405, with Chinook available for harvest starting Sept. 1 from the interstate down to Tukwila International Boulevard.
Fisheries on the Puyallup would open Aug. 15 for hatchery coho and Chinook, but with closures on certain days on the lower river to accommodate tribal openers.
The Nisqually would open July 1 for salmon, with a two-adult daily limit (release wild Chinook).
Things are less cut and dried at Buoy 10 and the rest of the Lower Columbia, where managers are trying to limit Chinook catches but access a good coho run of 900,000-plus fish.
There are multiple options on the table for dealing with August and its fall king runs, but things brighten in September, when the bag could bump to three hatchery silvers a day but no Chinook below Bonneville.
WDFW’s also warning that steelhead fisheries on the big river could see the rolling closures of 2017 and last year’s night closures and one-fish bags.
And things are no less complex in Grays Harbor and its tribs, but at least there are options.
Indeed, it’s better than sitting at home.
Next up in the North of Falcon process is an April 2 meeting in Ridgefield to talk about the Columbia and ocean, and an April 3 meeting in Lynnwood to discuss Puget Sound.