Tag Archives: nooksack river

Jan. 1 Steelhead, Crabbing Retention Closures On Nooksack, Everett Flats


Nooksack River closing to hatchery steelhead retention

Action: Closes the mainstem Nooksack and all forks to hatchery steelhead retention.

Species affected: Hatchery steelhead.



  • The Nooksack River from the mouth to the confluence of the North and South Forks.
  • The North Fork Nooksack from the Highway 9 Bridge to Nooksack Falls.
  • The Middle Fork Nooksack from the mouth to city of Bellingham diversion dam.
  • The South Fork Nooksack from the mouth to Skookum Creek.

Effective dates:  Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, 2020.

Reasons for action:  Hatchery steelhead returns to the Nooksack River and Kendall Hatchery are not meeting escapement goals. This closure is necessary to ensure hatchery broodstock goals are met.

Additional Information: The fishery may reopen earlier if broodstock needs are met. Other gamefish fisheries will remain open. On Feb. 1, hatchery steelhead retention on the North Fork only will reopen. Please refer to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ for further information on seasons and closures.

Everett Flats portion of Marine Area 8-2 to close during January recreational crab fishery extension

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that the Everett Flats portion of Marine Area 8-2 will close to recreational crab harvest Jan. 1, 2020, and remain closed through the end of the month.

Historically, a large proportion of the crab inhabiting the Everett Flats portion of Marine Area 8-2 have been softshell after December. Under the current management plan, co-managers agreed to close this shallow region to all crab harvest after Dec. 31 to protect softshell crab during their critical molt period.

Earlier this month, state and tribal co-managers came to an agreement that the crab abundance in Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2 would support allowing state recreational crabbing to remain open through the end of January. Crabbers will be able to crab in Marine Area 8-2 outside of Everett Flats, including Port Susan, all areas of Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), a portion of Marine Area 9 between the Hood Canal Bridge and a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point (Port Gamble, Port Ludlow), and in Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of Ayock point seven days a week through Jan. 31.

The Everett Flats closure will include the portion of catch area east of a line from Howarth Park due north to the south end of Gedney Island and the portion east of a line from the north end of Gedney Island to Camano Head, and south of a line drawn from Camano Head to Hermosa Point on the Tulalip reservation.

A valid shellfish or combination license is required to harvest throughout the remainder of the season, and Dungeness crab caught through Dec. 31, 2019 must be recorded on winter catch record cards. However, recreational crabbers participating in January’s extended crab season in Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2 or 12 do not need to record Dungeness crab on a catch record card.

Other reminders for the recreational crabber:

  • Setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.
  • The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches.
  • Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches, and six Tanner crab of either sex with a minimum carapace of 4 1/2 inches.
  • All 2019 winter crab catch record cards are due to WDFW by Feb. 4, 2020.

For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/fishing/catch-record-card/dungeness.

For more information on crabbing regulations, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

Puget Sound Coho Managers Seeing ‘Mixed Signals’ In 2019 Run

Good luck figuring out what’s up with this year’s Puget Sound coho run.

It’s continuing to give off “mixed signals,” but for the moment it appears there won’t be another post-5 p.m.-Friday-afternoon major rule change emailed out, like last week.


WDFW’s Mark Baltzell apologized to sportfisher advisors for that during a conference call late this morning, saying the decision to drop saltwater limits from two to one had been made “pretty quick.”

He also detailed how the region’s returns are performing so far, and while nowhere can be said to be looking great, only one system appears to be eliciting real concern, the Duwamish-Green.

It’s a bit on the early side to parse much from returns to its Soos Creek Hatchery, but Baltzell said that Muckleshoot catches have been 20 percent or less than what the tribe had expected given the forecast, with half their fishermen apparently not bothering to burn gas to set nets in the lower river or bay, he added.

Some sport anglers are reporting catching silvers in the river, but others are also struggling to get a bite.

Many of the jumpers in the DGR also appear to be on the smaller side, and that’s definitely the case over on the Quilcene, where adult returns to the national fish hatchery are not very far ahead of jacks, 6,413 to 5,984, the highest ratio in recent memory. Whether that’s good news for next year is a good question.

Granted that it was cancelled in 2016 and 2017, but while last weekend’s Everett Coho Derby did see the largest overall catch since 2012, 930, the average size fish weighed in was also the second smallest to 2015’s notoriously little coho, 5.4 pounds to 4.54 pounds.

Smaller, hungry fish can be snappier than larger ones, driving up catch rates, but also have fewer eggs to lay, reducing a run’s overall productivity.

As for other weirdness, Sekiu anglers were having to weed through “20 to 30” wild coho for every clipped one, a sportfishing advisor reported during today’s call. That had the effect of diminishing interest in making the long haul into the western Straits.

If this year’s run is late, like some believe, it would seem to be overwhelmingly wild, which would not be a bad thing either.

During the call Baltzell said that a regression correlation model developed by the late Steve Thiesfeld to gauge Puget Sound returns from Sekiu catches fell apart in 2015, the Blob year, and he’s been “reluctant” to bring it out again.

On Pugetropolis rivers, Baltzell said Nooksack coho “seem to be doing OK” and putting out “decent catches,” though tribal results have been below expectations.

On the Skagit, the hatchery return to Marblemount is “doing OK,” with the Cascade “full of fish,” he reported.

Creel samplers and game wardens working the Stillaguamish are finding “some effort” but “not a lot caught,” he said.

On the Snohomish system, numbers at the Wallace Hatchery are “doing OK,” with 3,000 or 4,000 coho that “had to be chased” out of the holding pens to collect summer kings for spawning, he reported.

Baltzell added that down at the mouth Tulalip fishermen were seeing relatively low catches in their nets. Further up anglers are doing OK with Dick Nites and other lures.

Snohomish coho were federally listed as an overfished stock and state and tribal managers are trying to rebuild the run, setting a higher escapement goal this year. Salmon angling on the system only only runs through Monday, Sept. 30.

Ballard Locks counts for Lake Washington coho haven’t been updated for about a week, but are comparable to the 10-year average.

And the Puyallup appears to have a split personality, with the White River’s return “gangbusters” — Bill Dowell at the Army Corps of Engineers says that through this morning, 10,198 have been passed over Mud Mountain Dam* —  but not so much for the mainstem, Baltzell indicated.

“Puget Sound wide, it looks like we overforecasted, but that is yet to be determined,” he summarized to sportfishing advisors.

One trolled the idea of returning the limit on Puget Sound to two, arguing that if eggtake goals are met at Soos Creek, concerns on the Duwamish would thus be addressed. Baltzell didn’t have an immediate answer, but essentially said it might raise issues with the comanagers.

Besides most of the abovementioned rivers, Marine Areas 8-1, 10, 12 and 13 will remain open for coho retention in October. Some are still being caught in the salt.

*IN OTHER PUGETROPOLIS SALMON NEWS, it appears that at the very minimum, this year’s Puyallup pink run was waaaaaaaay underforecast.

State and tribal managers predicted 47,905 back, but as of this morning, 445,615 had been counted below Mud Mountain Dam on the river’s tributary, the White, with more still arriving every day.

The Corps of Engineers’ Bill Dowell said Aug. 27’s 22,642 was the largest single-day haul of humpies on record.

He also said that this year’s 8,696 Chinook collected there was the third most since 1941, with the past four years all being the best since the flood-control facility came online.

A new $116 million fish passage facility is being built on the river.

Potential 2019 Washington River Salmon Fisheries Posted For Comment

More details are coming out about Washington’s potential 2019 river salmon fisheries and WDFW is looking for public input on them as North of Falcon comes to a boil over the next two weeks.

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.