Tag Archives: chinook

San Juans Chinook Limit Dropping To 1 Early Due To Catches

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Anglers limited to 1 chinook per day in Marine Area 7 beginning Saturday

Action: Lowers the daily limit for hatchery chinook to one fish in Marine Area 7.

WITH HIGHER THAN ANTICIPATED CATCH RATES, STATE MANAGERS ARE REDUCING THE LIMIT ON HATCHERY CHINOOK IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS, WHERE JAKE MANDELLA CAUGHT THIS NICE ONE IN 2015, TO ONE A DAY FROM TWO. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective Date: 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 22, through 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 31, 2017.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands Area).

Reason for action: Preliminary estimates indicate that anglers have caught more chinook than anticipated. The change to the chinook fishery is in compliance with conservation objectives and agreed-to management plans. The fishery is being modified to control impacts on stocks of concern.

The daily limit for chinook was previously scheduled to drop to one fish beginning Aug. 1.

Other information: The daily limit remains unchanged at a 2 salmon limit, plus two additional sockeye. Chum, wild chinook and coho must still be released. The fishery is scheduled to be open through Sept. 30.

Areas 9, 10, Ocean, Westport, San Juans Salmon Fishing Report (7-19-17)

Puget Sound salmon anglers did much better on this past Sunday’s Areas 9 and 10 marked Chinook opener, at least in the northern waters and compared to last year’s start of the fishery.

WDFW hasn’t updated its quota stats yet, but according to daily creel sampling tallies, 615 fishermen came into Everett with 202 kings on Sunday, 187 came into Fort Casey with 129 and 234 arrived at Shilshole with 38.

A RUN NORTH FROM LESS PRODUCTIVE CENTRAL SOUND WATERS ON THE JULY 16 OPENER YIELDED THIS NICE HATCHERY KING AT MIDCHANNEL BANK FOR A HAPPY ANGLER. (CHASE GUNNELL)

On the 2016 openers, 96, 36 and 44 Chinook were checked at those same ramps, or .2 kings per angler for the two northern launches and .16 for the southern.

Kingston, which wasn’t monitored on last year’s opener, recorded 26 for 259 anglers.

After poking around in the morning in more southerly waters without success, angler Chase Gunnell and crew ran up to Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend.

“The bite turned on in the latter half of the tide. Kept two nice kings and released a native. Herring Aide Coho Killer behind a moonjelly flasher pulled in two, green, yellow and white Coho Killer behind a red racer got the other one. All fish right off the bottom in 80 to 100 feet. The fish are out there and making their way south!” he said.

Tom Nelson of 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Outdoor Line reported good fishing on the second day too, and was buoyed by reports of Chinook action to the west in the Straits.

As for salmon fishing elsewhere on Washington’s saltwaters, here are this week’s reports from Wendy Beeghley of WDFW (first), John Keizer of Saltpatrol.com (second) and Kevin Klein of Puget Sound Anglers (third):

…………………………………..

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 2,006 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 307 Chinook and 1,463 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 2,565 Chinook (19% of the area guideline) and 1,804 coho (9% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Westport

A total of 2,239 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 284 Chinook and 1,053 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 1,553 Chinook (7% of the area guideline) and 1,350 coho (9% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 89 anglers participated in the all species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 67 Chinook and 28 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 156 Chinook (6% of the area guideline) and 53 coho (5% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 1,999 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 10-16, landing 2,352 Chinook and 291 coho.  Through July 16, a cumulative total of 4,698 Chinook (60% of the area guideline) and 688 coho (16% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

……………………………………………………….

Fished Westport Sunday with Jerry Henderson. He caught a nice king and I nailed a decent coho just Northwest of the harbor in 280 feet trolling 100 feet on the downrigger.

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

Best action for kings came on a Pro-Troll Flasher with a purple haze squid with 6/0 Mustad hooks tied on 50-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon.

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

We found the coho in the upper 20 to 60 feet of water and we did better pulling a Fish Flash and Herring Aide spoon.

(JOHN KEIZER, SALTPATROL.COM)

Tuna fishing is going full on now with local charters running southwest around 50 miles plugging their boats with albacore tuna.

………………………………………

The Bellingham Puget Sound Angler’s annual salmon derby took place this last weekend. Fishing for hatchery Chinook was anywhere from red hot to ice cold depending on where you were. Kings aren’t all over the Islands right now, but if you land on them, it can be very good fishing. Hoochies, spoons and bait have all been working.

Doug Marr took the $7500 first place prize with a 26.10-pound clipped fish. Alex Davis landed the biggest kid’s division Chinook at 15.42 pounds. The Bellingham Salmon Derby has always been a fun, family friendly event, with proceeds going to a lot of great causes.

Crabbing kicked off on July 15th. It’s been pretty good from most reports. Look for days with soft tides, or drop for a couple hours during a tide change. Dropping pots on a low and letting them soak into the flood can be productive. Our weather has been pretty darn good, and adding some Dungeness into the mix truly makes it feel like summer is here!

Pictures:

(VIA KEVIN KLEIN, PSA)

1. Doug Marr took top prize in the Bellingham Salmon Derby with this 26.10 lb hatchery Chinook. Well done!

(VIA KEVIN KLEIN, PSA)

2. Alex Davis showed up on top of the Kid’s division again with this 15.42 lber. Nice job young man!

(VIA KEVIN KLEIN, PSA)

3. Oliver Marica and family got a crab feed going on the open July 15th. It’s Dungie time!

SW WA, Columbia Fishing Report (7-17-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED WITH WDFW, INCLUDING PAUL HOFFARTH, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – Below the I-5 Bridge:  29 bank and 1 boat/3 rods had no catch.  From the I-5 Bridge upstream:  184 bank rods kept 23 adult and 2 jack spring Chinook and 9 steelhead and released 2 adult and 2 jack spring Chinook, 3 steelhead, and 2 cutthroats.  67 boats/193 rods kept 65 steelhead and 1 cutthroat and released 1 steelhead and 17 cutthroat.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 978 salmonid anglers (149 boats) with 42 adult and 6 jack summer Chinook, 67 steelhead, and no sockeye.  24 (57%) of the adult summer Chinook  and 42 (63%) of the steelhead were kept.

SCOTT FLETCHER SHOWS OFF A SUMMER CHINOOK CAUGHT IN THE UPPER COLUMBIA LAST WEEK. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Anglers averaged a steelhead caught per every 14.6 rods.  In comparison, anglers averaged a fish per every 6.1 and 7.6 rods during the same time in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Tri-cities Area Summer Chinook & Sockeye Fishery

With the closure of the Upper Columbia River for the retention of sockeye, angler effort has been low.  This past week, July 10-16, there were an estimated 62 boats fishing for summer chinook salmon in the Columbia River between Highway 395 and Priest Rapids Dam.

WDFW staff interviewed 19 anglers from 8 boats with a reported harvest of 1 adult hatchery chinook and 1 wild chinook and 1 sockeye were caught and released.  For the week an estimated 8 adult summer chinook were harvested.  For the season there have been 2,291 angler trips for sockeye/summer chinook with 115 adult hatchery chinook, 23 chinook jacks, and 885 sockeye harvested. Area fisheries will continue to be open to fishing for hatchery summer chinook through August 15.

Paul A. Hoffarth
District 4 Fish Biologist
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem from the Marker 82 line downstream – We sampled 16 sturgeon anglers (including 4 boats) with 9 legals released.

Shad

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 20 shad bank anglers with 27 fish kept.

Walleye

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – 3 walleye anglers (1 boat) had no catch.

Trout

Recent plants of rainbows, including some over 5 pounds each.  No report on angling success.

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per Pound
Hatchery
Notes

LK MERWIN (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK+MERWIN+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Jul 10, 2017
Rainbow
1,447
0.18
MERWIN HATCHERY

LK MERWIN (COWL)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=LK+MERWIN+%28COWL%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Cowlitz County – Region 5
Jul 10, 2017
Rainbow
1,234
0.8
MERWIN HATCHERY

COUNCIL LK (SKAM)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=COUNCIL+LK+%28SKAM%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Skamania County – Region 5
Jul 11, 2017
Rainbow
3,337
2.5
GOLDENDALE HATCHERY

MINERAL LK (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MINERAL+LK+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 11, 2017
Rainbow
2,600
2
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

MAYFIELD RES (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MAYFIELD+RES+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 12, 2017
Rainbow
180
1.89
EELLS SPRINGS

MAYFIELD RES (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MAYFIELD+RES+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 12, 2017
Rainbow
3,886
2.04
EELLS SPRINGS

Washington Coast Salmon Fishing Report (7-12-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORTS ARE FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY OF WDFW (TOP) AND JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM (BOTTOM)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 1,885 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 770 Chinook and 177 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 2,212 Chinook (17% of the area guideline) and 318 coho (2% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

“I JUST LOVE HOW THESE OCEAN ‘NOOKS REFUSE TO QUIT!” SAYS JEFF ANDERSON, HERE WITH A RECENT ONE. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Westport

A total of 2,355 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 498 Chinook and 261 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 1,269 Chinook (6% of the area guideline) and 261 coho (2% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 86 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 54 Chinook and 6 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 89 Chinook (4% of the area guideline) and 25 coho (2% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 1,975 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 1,472 Chinook and 245 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 2,346 Chinook (30% of the area guideline) and 397 coho (9% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

…………………………….

Fished Westport this weekend landed 2 kings and a coho Saturday and one king one coho Sunday pretty slow fishing overall. Top producer for us was a Gold Star Spatter squid behind a Pro-Troll flasher with Bloody Tuna Jell Scent on it. We fished 300 ft of water NW of the harbor best downrigger depth was 110ft. The ocean is full of pink Pyrosome Tunicates. They are a colony of plankton eating clones. They get caught on the downrigger wire and will also trip your rod off the release clip.

THE BANE OF COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN EARLIER IN THE YEAR, RECREATIONAL ANGLERS ARE ALSO FINDING PYROSOMES CLOGGING UP THEIR GEAR. (SALTPATROL.COM)

 

Columbia, Gorge Pools, SW WA Fishing Report (7-12-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED FROM JIMMY WATTS, ODFW, PAUL HOFFARTH, WDFW, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

SALMON, STEELHEAD AND SHAD

On Saturday’s (7/8) flight, 271 salmonid boats and 90 Oregon bank anglers were counted from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam.

Gorge Bank: Weekend checking showed six adult Chinook kept and three adult Chinook released for 39 salmon anglers; and 250 shad kept for 43 shad anglers.

COLUMBIA RIVER FISHERY MONITORS CONTINUE TO REPORT GOOD ANGLING FOR WALLEYE THIS YEAR. LEXI HAN HOOKED THIS ONE IN JUNE NEAR TRI-CITIES. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Gorge Boats: Weekend checking showed five adult Chinook kept and three adult Chinook released for seven salmon boats (18 anglers).

Troutdale Boats: Weekend checking showed one adult Chinook kept plus three adult Chinook and one steelhead released for 27 salmon boats (57 anglers).

Portland to Westport Bank: Weekend checking showed three adult Chinook, one Chinook jack and four summer steelhead kept plus one adult Chinook released for 72 bank anglers.

Portland to Westport Boats: Weekend checking showed two adult Chinook kept and four adult Chinook released for 29 boats (64 anglers).

Estuary Bank (Astoria-Megler Bridge to Wauna Power lines): Weekly checking showed no catch for three anglers.

Estuary Boats (Astoria-Megler Bridge to Wauna Power lines):  Weekend checking showed no catch for two salmon boats (five anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Weekly checking showed one adult Chinook kept plus one adult Chinook released for seven bank anglers.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed one adult Chinook kept for six bank anglers; and no catch for two boats (four anglers).

John Day Pool: No report.

STURGEON

Gorge boats: Catch and release only. No report.

Portland to Wauna Power lines: Catch and release only. No report.

Estuary Boats (Buoy 10 to Wauna Power lines): Catch and release only. Weekend checking showed 16 sublegal and 31 oversize sturgeon released for four boats (11 anglers).

Bonneville Pool: Catch and release only. No report.

The Dalles Pool: Catch and release only. Weekly checking showed one sublegal sturgeon released for one bank angler.

John Day Pool: Catch and release only. Weekly checking showed eight sublegal and one legal sturgeon released for five boats (20 anglers).

WALLEYE

Troutdale boats: Weekend checking showed no catch for two boats (three anglers).

Bonneville Pool: No report.

The Dalles Pool: Weekly checking showed three walleye kept and 50 walleye kept for three boats (13 anglers).

John Day Pool: Weekly checking showed 421 walleye kept and 223 walleye released for 68 boats (152 anglers).

………………………………………………………

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – I-5 Bridge downstream:  2 boat and 25 bank rods had no catch.  Above the I-5 Bridge:  142 boat rods kept 4 adult spring Chinook, 37 steelhead, and 1 cutthroat and released 26 cutthroats.  155 bank rods kept 26 adult spring Chinook and 10 steelhead and released 4 adult and 2 jack spring Chinook, 1 steelhead, and 1 cutthroat.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – During the first nine days of July we sampled 1,081 salmonid anglers (including 183 boats) with 72 adult and 4 jack summer Chinook, 82 steelhead, and 1 sockeye.  26 (36%) of the adult summer Chinook were kept (remember, adult Chinook had to be released through July 6). 52 (63%) of the steelhead and the lone sockeye were kept.

Tri-cities Area Summer Chinook & Sockeye Fishery – WDFW staff interviewed 58 anglers from 30 boats this past week with a reported catch of 1 adult chinook and 24 sockeye.  For the week an estimated 12 adult summer chinook and 300 sockeye were harvested.  For the season there have been 2,144 angler trips for sockeye/summer chinook with 107 adult hatchery chinook, 23 chinook jacks, and 885 sockeye harvested. Area fisheries will continue to be open to fishing for hatchery summer chinook through August 15.

Paul A. Hoffarth
District 4 Fish Biologist
WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below the Marker 82 line – 50 sturgeon anglers (including 15 boats) were sampled with 37 legals released.

Shad

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – 188 anglers (including 2 boats) kept 601 shad and released 16 fish.

Walleye

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – 21 walleye anglers (10 boats) kept 6 walleye.

Trout

Recent plants of catchable size rainbows and browns into SW WA waters.  No report on angling success.

Lake/Pond
Date
Species
Number
Fish per pound
Hatchery
Notes

CHAMBERS LK (LEWI)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=CHAMBERS+LK+%28LEWI%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
Lewis County – Region 5
Jul 05, 2017
Brown Trout
1,000
2
MOSSYROCK HATCHERY

MAYFIELD LK (26)<http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/search.php?searchby=LakeStocked&search=MAYFIELD+LK+++%2826%29&orderby=LakeStocked%20ASC,%20StockDate%20DESC>
County – Region 5
Jul 06, 2017
Rainbow
4,290
2.13
EELLS SPRINGS

‘Let The Party Begin!’ Floor On Start Of Washington July Chinook Season

Editor’s note: The following is Tony Floor’s monthly newsletter and is run with permission.

By Tony Floor, Fishing Affairs Director, Northwest Marine Trade Association

As a lifelong saltwater salmon angler in the Pacific Northwest, I wait for July 1st seemingly all year long. In a perfect world, it would be July 1st every day as the summer salmon season opens from the ocean, Strait of Juan de Fuca and throughout the San Juan Islands for Chinook salmon. Let the party begin!

My first imprinting of king salmon fishing in Washington began 55 years ago when my dad purchased our first salmon fishing boat. It was a 1960 16-foot Uniflite, made in Bellingham and powered with a 35-horse Evinrude. This boat, with its soft white hull and turquoise top, had fins in the back, dude, like a ’57 low-rider Cadillac. It was so ugly, passengers in our boat were issued Alfred E. Neuman masks. Ugly! Got a visual? The hull was as flat as a piece of plywood with a 4-inch keel. All my teeth fell out on our first fishing trip.

MY DAD’S FIRST SALMON FISHING BOAT, A 16-FOOT UNIFLITE. JUST LIKE TODAY’S SALTWATER FISHING BOATS – BUT DIFFERENT! (TONY FLOOR)

My Dad bought the one-year-old boat from a guy who worked at Hanford around one of several nuclear reactors. I was convinced he was radioactive and the boat, I believed, if tested, would set off a geiger counter like a pin ball machine on 220 volts!

During those early salmon fishing years, my dad towed the boat to Sekiu in early July for fishing vacations every year while growing up. It was a blast even though we caught each other more often than an occasional king salmon. I emphasize the word few.

Today, some 50-plus years later, I am back fishing the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Port Angeles, trolling along Ediz Hook with a longtime fishing buddy from Sequim, Mike Schmidt.

MIKE SCHMIDT, SEQUIM, HOISTS HIS LIMIT OF 20-POUND KING SALMON CAUGHT OFF EDIZ HOOK IN PORT ANGELES EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO ON THE JULY 1, 2016 OPENER. (TONY FLOOR)

Exactly one year ago from today, we were working our flashers and Coho Killer spoons while trolling west on a morning outgoing tide in 110 feet of water from the Coast Guard station west to the “Winter Hole.” Thinking about it gives me goosebumps as that day three of us brought 15 kings to the boat, taking the six hatchery fish we wanted. The following day, on July 2nd, Mike and I hooked 10 kings and kept the four “keepers” we could, or wanted. It was just like those early days at Sekiu – but different.

July is game day. It’s a time in a Pacific Northwest angler’s playbook where it all goes into motion. Reservations are locked, the boat and equipment is in perfect fishing condition and the trailer is ready to lay down some miles. It’s time to fish.

One of the challenges about July king salmon fishing is where to go. Westport, La Push, Neah Bay, Sekiu, Port Angeles and the San Juans are all open.

Similar to picking a selection from the dinner menu at a favorite restaurant, go with what works for you during the first two weeks of the month. My choices in early July are Port Angeles and Freshwater Bay. As we move forward in time toward the second week of July, I’m headed for Neah Bay, as king salmon migrating down the Washington coast and the Columbia River transition through the Neah Bay region.

Since 1977, I have primarily focused on fishing the kelp beds east and south of Cape Flattery, looking for quality king salmon dining on schools of sandlance abundant around the kelp. Mercy! Another takedown! Somebody please stop time!

In mid-July, as in recent years, salmon anglers will witness the kickoff to the central and northern Puget Sound Chinook fisheries (marked hatchery Chinook only). From the north end of Vashon Island north to Pt. Wilson and Port Townsend, I anticipate very good Chinook fishing beginning July 16 as the Chinook salmon guidelines (quotas) have been nearly doubled since last year. The traditional hot spots of Possession Bar, Kingston and especially Mid-Channel Bank at Port Townsend should be on fire. Find the bait and you’ll find the kings. If you’re not fishing any of these areas on July 16 and you can see Puget Sound, please refrain from dialing 911 as you witness water on fire. Baby, I love it when that happens.

This fishery is especially important to stay-cationers who live in the central and northern Puget Sound region. Expect an epidemic from salmon anglers who will be calling in sick, reporting something in their eyes and can’t see going into work!

For the northern Washington fisheries, which include anglers from Mt. Vernon, Anacortes and Bellingham who fish the San Juan Islands, the green flag also drops on July 1. As veteran anglers will tell you, the Islands can be inconsistent from day to day, making it challenging to find where Chinook salmon are holding. Recognized fishing spots like Obstruction Pass, the buoy on the south end of Cypress Island, Boulder Reef and Eagle Bluff in the eastern San Juans are notorious for kicking out summer king salmon.

For this old cat, Port Angeles, Tahsis, B.C. and Neah Bay are on my menu for the first two weeks of July, followed by Mid-Channel Bank off and on during the last two weeks of the month. By the end of the month, I’ll be doing that zombie walk again, hopefully with Chinook salmon on my breath. Somebody pinch me.

See you on the water!

Tony

IDFG Says Chinook Seasons Could Reopen After Count Picks Up

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Migration conditions in the lower Columbia River and a late run have challenged Fish and Game’s normal process for setting Chinook salmon seasons. Fisheries managers closed the spring/summer Chinook season as a precaution on May 24 on all rivers, except Hells Canyon, due to low numbers of Chinook counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. It’s the first dam the fish cross, and the first opportunity managers to count fish destined for Idaho, and since then, Chinook returns have improved.

WHAT MAY BE THE LATEST RETURN OF SALMON ON RECORD IS GIVING IDAHO MANAGERS AND ANGLERS HOPE THAT RIVERS CAN BE REOPENED FOR CHINOOK LIKE THIS ONE CAUGHT BY GARRETT GRUBBS SEVERAL SEASONS AGO ON THE CLEARWATER. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

On Friday, June 2, the Fish and Game Commission will meet via conference call to consider a proposal to reopen fishing for spring Chinook salmon on the Little Salmon River, and to open summer Chinook salmon seasons on the Clearwater, South Fork Salmon and upper Salmon River.

The run is much later than usual, and possibly the latest on record. Anadromous Fishery Manager Lance Hebdon said it’s still too early to say for certain where fisheries will occur, or how long they might last.

“The good news is we’re now fairly confident that we’ll have some sort of a fishery in the Little Salmon River, but that’s all we can really say at this point. We’ll provide as much fishing opportunity as we can, and we’ll get the word out as soon as a decision is made.”

Although fishery managers expect to have sufficient returns to allow a harvest of several hundred spring Chinook, they expect the lower run size will limit the duration of the season.

“We’re evaluating fish passage information on a daily basis right now to determine if, when and where we have the opportunity for harvest,” Hebdon said.

Low numbers of wild Chinook may further constrain some fisheries. The number of wild Chinook destined for Idaho waters that have crossed Bonneville Dam is much lower than average. If those numbers don’t increase, fishing may be limited to areas where anglers are unlikely to hook wild Chinook, such as the Little Salmon River. Areas typically open to fishing, like the main Salmon between Rice Creek and Vinegar Creek may remain closed.

Lake Washington Walleye Outfitted With Acoustic Tags For Study

Fishery biologists with a Seattle-area tribe are capturing a new predator species in Lakes Washington and Sammamish to monitor their movements and whether they cross paths with salmon.

It’s unclear how many of the illegally introduced fish are actually in the system, but concern is building and the Muckleshoot Tribe reports they have “successfully tagged and released multiple walleye” already this year.

STATE FISHERIES BIOLOGIST DANNY GARRETT DISPLAYS A 13-PLUS-POUND WALLEYE HE UNEXPECTEDLY CAUGHT IN 2015 NEAR MERCER ISLAND ON LAKE WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

A request for comment from the tribe had not yet been returned as of this writing, but details of the operation come from the LOAF, or list of agreed-to fisheries that was signed by WDFW and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission earlier this month as the parties reached an agreement at North of Falcon, and which was posted last week by the state agency.

Besides outlining all the treaty, commercial and recreational salmon fisheries over the coming 12 months, the 105-page document includes the Muckleshoot’s aims and methods for their two-year warmwater species study in the Lake Washington basin.

It builds on the scant information we were able to report earlier this year, when it began.

The tribe says it wants to catch up to 15 walleye to “assess their overlap with migrating juvenile salmonids in addition to locating areas these invasive predators may be targeted in subsequent fisheries.”

Tribal fishers are targeting one of seven zones in Washington and Sammamish at a time, using up to eight 300-foot-long gillnets with 31/2- to 6-inch mesh. The nets fish during the work week and are closely monitored to reduce the possibility of snagging the few if any ESA-listed steelhead in the basin.

Walleye are being implanted with acoustic devices that can be read by receivers stationed around the lakes that are otherwise used to track tagged returning adult Chinook and sockeye and young outmigrating coho.

Overlapping walleye movements with the coho will help model their potential to cross paths with Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook smolts.

The Muckleshoots say their effort “will benefit salmonid management in the Lake Washington basin,” as well as inform researchers on walleye diets and distribution.

Of note, a “second consideration” is to figure out if catch rates on walleye and bass are “high enough to result in an economically viable fishery … Data collected will inform managers of areas and times that a tribal net fishery could be economically viable as well as areas to avoid/target minimizing bycatch and optimizing harvest.”

According to plans, gear, locations and effort may be shared with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with details on any steelhead or Chinook caught, with the test fishery being shut down after a third and fifth of each species is encountered.

The data will add to a 2004-05 Army Corps of Engineers study that looked at movements of acoustically tagged Chinook smolts, smallmouth bass and prickly sculpins.

Walleye first turned up in Lake Washington in 2005, a small male, caught by University of Washington researchers, with anglers catching one or two in following years.

But in 2015, state and tribal biologists caught a dozen, mostly in Lake Washington between Mercer Island and Bellevue, including a 13.5-pound hen that was dripping eggs.

As the species is native to waters east of the Rockies, the only way they could have arrived in the urban lakes is in livewells. The nearest source populations are about 120 miles east on I-90 in the Columbia Basin.

The Lake Washington system supports important tribal and recreational salmon fisheries, though sockeye, which reside in the lake a year before going to sea, have not produced directed seasons for over 10 years, despite a new hatchery. WDFW’s Issaquah Salmon Hatchery produces Chinook and coho.

So far, the Muckleshoots have caught at least one northern pike in Lake Washington, as well as a handful of walleye in Lake Sammamish.

The LOAF also describes a plan to electrofish in spring and fall and gillnet in spring in select areas of Lake Washington and the Ship Canal, the idea being to figure out if removing bass, walleye, perch and other salmon predators can be effective.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re a bass tournament angler fishing nationally ranked Lake Washington, you’d want a map of where those efforts are planned.

WDFW Outlines Potential Puget Sound Salmon Seasons

Puget Sound anglers, guides, gear retailers, resort owners, commercial fishermen and others got their first glance at possible summer salmon seasons today.

Options presented this morning by WDFW included a mixed bag of opportunities to catch abundant Chinook and coho in some marine areas and rivers, sharply carved seasons elsewhere to limit impacts on depressed stocks, and closures on some waters to ensure enough salmon make it back to North Sound spawning grounds.

The agency was gathering comments from its stakeholders for the next round of negotiations with Western Washington tribes, who were also in meetings today.

2015 LOOMS LARGE OVER THESE ANGLERS ON WHIDBEY ISLAND AS A THUNDERSTORM MOVES PAST THAT JULY, AS WELL AS OVER 2017’S SALMON FORECASTS AND NEGOTIATIONS. THAT YEAR SAW THE BLOB WREAK HAVOC ON THE FISH AT SEAS, OVERHEAT AND DIMINISH THEIR NATAL RIVERS, AND THEN FLOOD THEIR REDDS UNDER FALL’S DELUGES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Discussions at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites were slated to continue through the afternoon, but, well, some of us have magazine deadlines to attend to, so I had to leave “North of Falcon II” early and can’t go as in-depth on all the arcane math behind WDFW’s modeling as is my usual wont, but I found several fishing options that the agency has drummed up as newsworthy:

For starters, with over 16,300 Chinook heading back to the Green, the agency would like to hold a one-weekend (Friday-Sunday), two-salmon-limit fishery on inner Elliott Bay in August (hatchery coho and pinks only the next two weekends), and open part of the lower river for king retention.

Initially, WDFW is looking at a nonselective season on E-Bay kings, following a lack of objection from the Muckleshoot Tribe, according to Mark Baltzell, Puget Sound salmon manager.

But that concerned several anglers, including retired state salmon policy expert and current sportfishing representative Pat Patillo. He thought that it might be better to propose the fishery as a mark-selective one, aligning it with consistent efforts to target and harvest fin-clipped hatchery salmon.

Either way, it buoyed one longtime angler who sat in the front row of today’s briefing.

“We’re glad to see a chance to get back our king fishery,” said Ed, last name unknown.

WDFW is also modeling hatchery Chinook seasons in the Nooksack, Skykomish, Skagit, Cascade, Puyallup and Nisqually Rivers, and any-king fisheries in the Samish River and Tulalip Bubble.

THIS TABLE FROM WDFW SHOWS CHINOOK FISHERIES THE AGENCY BROUGHT TO ANGLERS AT TODAY’S NORTH OF FALCON MEETING IN LYNNWOOD.

Unlike 2016, this year there are least options to fish for coho on the salt.

But to protect very low forecasted returns of Stillaguamish and Skagit coho, WDFW is considering closing Areas 8-1 and 8-2 through October, and running Area 9 as a shore fishery only for hatchery silvers in September.

According to the agency’s Ryan Lothrop, Admiralty Inlet typically produces 24,000 silvers that month, with impacts to Stilly and Skagit coho “quite high” as the rivers’ stocks mix before heading for their natal streams.

The tribes were said to be “relatively open” to a shoreline fishery throughout Area 9, including down to the Hood Canal Bridge, though it would only yield about 5 percent of the usual catch for anglers, according to WDFW.

Elsewhere, Areas 5, 6, 10 and 13 are modeled as open for hatchery coho, while wild and clipped silvers could be fishable in Areas 11 and 12.

WDFW’s proposal also includes selective coho fisheries in the Nooksack, Samish, Cascade and Nisqually Rivers, and any-silver fisheries in the Snohomish, Green, Puyallup, Nisqually and Quilcene Rivers, and Lakes Washington and Sammamish, and Tulalip Bay.

The Skagit and Stillaguamish would be closed, but the retired WDFW biologist and North Sound angler Curt Kramer said the agency owed game fish anglers something for 2016 closures and termed the Stilly a “blue-ribbon” cutthroat fishery.

ANOTHER CHART FROM TODAY’S NORTH OF FALCON MEETING SHOWS POTENTIAL COHO FISHERIES.

Since the early 2000s, odd-numbered years have delivered stellar numbers of pink salmon, but not so for 2017, at least by the forecast, some 1.15 million Puget Sound wide.

Again, with Stillaguamish and Skagit coho mixing into the best waters for Snohomish- and South Sound-bound humpies, things look grim for Area 8-2 anglers, but audience members came up with two possible sliver fisheries.

Patillo advocated for one on the eastern side of the area, from, say, Mukilteo down to the Shipwreck, with the idea being a fishery in Humpy Hollow would be further away from the constraining coho stocks.

Scott Weedman of Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville wanted to know about one off the mouth of the Snohomish River, from approximately the Tulalip Bubble down to Mukilteo, an area known as 8A.

The latter is a consideration, with the assumption that the closer to the Snohomish, the higher the density of salmon native to that basin. WDFW staffers were up until 2 a.m. this morning modeling an 8A fishery.

Other modeled saltwater fisheries include:

  • Hatchery Chinook in all or parts of July and August in Marine Areas 5-7, 9-11, 12 south of Point Ayock, and 13;
  • Any-Chinook fisheries in Area 7 from August through September;

But ominously, Skokomish kings and coho are listed as TBD, a possible sign about negotiations to reopen the river after last year’s closure by the tribe.

About 60 people attended today’s meeting. Besides those mentioned above, they included Gabe Miller of Sportco in Fife, Tom Nelson of The Outdoor Line, Puget Sound sportfishing advisors Ryley Fee and Norm Reinhardt, among others, Mark Spada, a pair of representatives from Sekiu, charter skippers Keith Robbins, Carl Nyman and Steve Kesling, Kevin John from Holiday Market, Art Tatchell of Point Defiance Boathouse, Jacques White of Long Live the Kings, Fish and Wildlife Commissioners Dave Graybill and Bob Kehoe, numerous Puget Sound Anglers, Kitsap Poggie Club and CCA members, Mark Yuasa at the Seattle Times, dozens of WDFW headquarters and regional staffers, and Susan Bishop at NOAA.

Again, I had to leave early, but this represents what WDFW presented to fisherman as North of Falcon 2017 draws to its scheduled mid-April conclusion.

Rig Of The Month: Estuary Sturg ’n ’Nook Quick-change Set-up

NOTES

Getting a chance to pull off a successful combo fishing trip is very satisfying, but it usually involves such long days and so much gear that it feels daunting to even attempt. This rig simplifies things.

With the rise of a new summer Chinook fishery in the Columbia River estuary just above the AstoriaMegler Bridge, many anglers will be making the trip here this season. But with salmon fishing so concentrated towards the last part of the incoming tide, it will leave many wanting more. Enter the very healthy population of hungry sturgeon roaming these waters this time of year. Retention is closed, but there’s nothing more exhilarating than hooking into multiple fish that will put you and your gear to the test.

No special tackle is needed for sturgeon – your salmon rod and reel will work just fine. And it just so happens that those fresh anchovies you bought for Chinook are a favorite of estuary sturgeon. Check the tides and target diamondsides from low slack and halfway
through the incoming before pulling anchor and making a run to the Washington side above the bridge to fish salmon for the last half of the incoming through high tide. – Andy Schneider

(Andy Schneider)

(Andy Schneider)