Coho anglers from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Deep South Sound will see their daily limits drop to one starting Monday as state managers worry about the size of this year’s run as well as the size of the fish themselves.
A WDFW emergency rule change notice out late this afternoon says that preliminary monitoring by the agency and tribes are finding that this year’s ocean-returning silvers “have a smaller body size and potentially lower-than-expected run sizes to many systems.”
Smaller bodies mean that hens are carrying fewer eggs, whether to the hatchery or gravel.
The news is not unlike at this time in 2015, when coho came in half the size of usual during the height of the Blob, the giant pool of warm water that reduced the amount of forage available for salmon and other species.
“WDFW is implementing this rule as a precaution to ensure escapement and hatchery goals are met,” the e-reg states.
It affects Marine Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 9, 10, 11 and 13, the central and eastern Straits, the San Juan Islands, and Central and South Puget Sound.
The daily limit is two until then.
Marine Area 8-2 has already closed for coho due to concerns of overfishing of the important Snohomish River stock.
Mark Yuasa of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, who tracks Puget Sound salmon fishing news very closely, considered the news to not be unexpected.
Even though some anglers have struggled to catch coho, others have seen good catches, albeit with a wide variety of sizes turning up on images posted to Facebook.
Indeed the run has been giving off mixed signals, but now WDFW is taking a cautious approach.
The big Everett Coho Derby is this weekend.
The change affects about a week of coho retention in a number of marine areas, but more in others.