Tag Archives: puget sound

NOAA Spotlight: How Puget Sound Anglers Helped Bios Delist Rockfish Species

THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION NEWS STORY

In 2010, three species of rockfish in Puget Sound, WA were listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and received additional protections to aid in their recovery. The decision was based on the best available science at the time. There remained considerable uncertainty whether these populations were distinct from populations found on the outer coast—a defining criteria for ESA listings.

YELLOWEYES WERE ONE OF THREE SPECIES OF PUGET SOUND ROCKFISH THAT FORMER STATE BIOLOGIST SAM WRIGHT PETITIONED THE FEDS TO LIST UNDER E.S.A., WHICH THEY DID IN 2010. (NOAA)

NOAA Fisheries researchers set out to answer this question, using genetics to determine if these rockfish populations were distinct from outer coast populations. Population genetics is a powerful technique, but one that requires getting enough tissue samples to analyze. This is a challenge when the species are rare as was the case with these rockfish species. Overcoming this challenge led the researchers to a unique solution. The results were recently published in a special issue of the scientific journal Citizen Science: Theory and Practice.

WITH HELP WHERE TO LOCATE CANARY ROCKFISH IN PUGET SOUND FROM ANGLERS, FEDERAL BIOLOGISTS WERE ABLE TO FIGURE OUT THAT COASTAL AND INLAND SEA STOCKS WERE ONE AND THE SAME, ALLOWING FOR THE REVERSAL OF THE SPECIES’ 2010 ESA LISTING . (ODFW)

Recreational fishermen know where to find fish. The researchers asked recreational fishermen for help identifying places where they used to fish for these threatened species of yelloweye and canary rockfish. The recreational fishermen jumped at the chance to share their knowledge and become citizen scientists. They supplemented information provided by the scientific research community and volunteered their expertise fishing in complex rocky habitats.

“Fishermen have the knowledge and expertise that allowed us to answer some really basic questions about these threatened rockfish species,” said Kelly Andrews, lead author of a new scientific paper and research fisheries biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

“The recreational fishing community and charter boat captains have been out on the water daily, sometimes for decades. They have a lot of built-up information about how fish populations are doing and where those species, especially rare species, are most likely to be found and captured,” said Andrews.

(NOAA)

The results of the collaboration were impressive. When the researchers tapped into the fishing community’s knowledge, they tripled the number of sampling sites and doubled the number of ESA-listed rockfish tissue samples collected.

When researchers analyzed the genetic make-up of the collected samples, they found two significant results. Yelloweye rockfish found within Puget Sound and the inside waters of British Columbia, Canada were genetically different from those found along the outer coast. That is, there are distinct population groups inside and outside the Puget Sound/Georgia Basin region. In contrast, canary rockfish were genetically similar across the regions; the populations were more connected than originally thought.

With this new information in hand, federal fishery managers expanded the ESA protections for yelloweye rockfish by modifying the Puget Sound population’s  boundaries. In addition, ESA protections were removed for canary rockfish; the first time that’s ever happened for a marine fish species.

By working with the recreational fishing community, the researchers found a cost-efficient way to collect the necessary samples for genetic analyses that led to improved management of endangered rockfish.

Editor’s note: Other authors of the paper “All Hands on Deck: Local Ecological Knowledge and Expert Volunteers Contribute to the First Delisting of a Marine Fish Species Under the Endangered Species Act,” which appears in the journal Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, include Puget Sound Anglers president Ron Garner.

Yuasa Looks Back At 2019 Salmon Seasons, Towards 2020’s

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

The holiday “to do” list has pretty much taken priority over getting out on the water, but if you’re like me that also means it’s time to reassess salmon fisheries in 2019 and start thinking about what lies ahead in 2020.

I had a chance to chat with Mark Baltzell, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Puget Sound salmon manager, and Wendy Beeghly, the head WDFW coastal salmon manager, who provided insight about the future and a somewhat forgetful past.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“I believe the best way to describe Puget Sound salmon fisheries overall in 2019 is a mixed bag,” said Baltzell. “We had some unexpected good salmon fishing and returns while others were as poor as the preseason forecasts had predicted.”

“Summer chinook fisheries were for the most part better than we expected despite the reduced seasons,” Baltzell said. “Early on we saw some really good chinook fishing in May and June in southern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 13 south of the Narrows Bridge).”

It wasn’t uncommon for Area 13 anglers during those months to hook into a limit of early summer hatchery kings, 10 to 18 pounds with a few larger, off Point Fosdick and Fox Island’s east side at Gibson Point, Fox Point in Hale Passage, northwest corner at the Sand Spit, Toy Point and Concrete Dock “Fox Island Fishing Pier.”
In the past few years, central Puget Sound (Area 10) starting in June has become a hot bed for resident coho – 2- to 4-pounds – and this past summer was no exception to the norm. On certain days you’d find hundreds of boats from Jefferson Head to Kingston and in the shipping lane.

“We had a coho fishery in Area 10 from June through August that was really good and has turned into a successful early summer salmon fishery,” Baltzell said.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The Tulalip Bubble Terminal Fishery within Area 8-2 opened in June and was another location that proved to be fairly decent for early summer kings in the 10- to 15-pound range.

When July rolled around the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Areas 5 and 6) opened for hatchery kings and was off and on for much of the summer.

The San Juan Islands (Area 7) had a brief hatchery king fishery from July 1-31, which saw plenty of fishing pressure and a much higher than expected success rate.

Preliminary WDFW data during the July Area 7 fishery showed 5,310 boats with 11,739 anglers kept 3,019 hatchery kings (10 wild fish were illegally retained) along with 451 hatchery and 982 wild chinook released. The best fishing period occurred from July 1-14. WDFW test fishing showed the Area 7 legal-size chinook mark rate was 84.6 percent and overall mark rate was 78.6.

The summer hatchery king fishery in northern and central Puget Sound (Areas 9 and 10), started off poorly from July 25-28 due to extreme low tides. Once the tidal fluctuation improved as more dates were tacked onto the fishery catch rates picked up rapidly.
During an 11-day fishing period from July 25 to Aug. 4, the success rate in Area 9 was a 0.23 fish per rod average with a total of 7,779 boats with 17,147 anglers keeping 3,446 hatchery chinook (six unmarked were illegally retained) and released 1,124 hatchery and 756 wild chinook plus 697 coho kept and 747 released. WDFW test fishing showed the legal-size chinook mark rate was around 88.0 percent.

The Area 10 hatchery chinook fishery was open daily July 25 through Aug. 16 and a total of 7,606 boats with 15,900 anglers kept 3,200 hatchery chinook (17 wild were illegally retained) and released 994 hatchery and 1,579 wild chinook plus 2,013 coho kept and 463 released. WDFW test fishing showed the legal-size chinook mark rate was around 50.0 percent.

Summer hatchery chinook action in south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) stumbled out of the gates when it opened July 1 and was peppered with a few glory moments until it closed Aug. 25 for chinook retention. In Area 11, an estimated 12,264 boats with 22,818 anglers from July 1-Aug. 25 retained 212 chinook and released 164 hatchery and 465 wild chinook.

“We saw a lot more legal-size chinook in Puget Sound than the FRAM (Fishery Regulation Assessment Model) had predicted and more legal hatchery fish around than we had seen in past years,” Baltzell said.

In general, the wild chinook stock assessment seemed to be somewhat better in some parts of Puget Sound. Places like the Tumwater Falls Hatchery in deep South Sound even had a few nice 20-pound females return.

Heading into late summer, the Puget Sound pink returns were off the charts good here and there while other pink runs were downright dismal. Salmon anglers chasing pinks managed to find some excellent fishing from mid-August through September.

“In some places it seemed like we had twice the abundance of pinks and others didn’t get as many as we had thought,” Baltzell said. “The Puyallup did really good and a decent number of pinks pass(ed) over the Buckley fish trap and was up into the historical day numbers. But, the Skagit and Stillaguamish weren’t so good for pinks and it was the same for coho too.”

“At this point were going to be OK in places like the Snohomish for coho,” Baltzell said. “Both the tribes and state did all the things necessary to help ensure we’d exceed our hatchery coho broodstock (goals), and that did eventually happen.”

Other locations like the Green River met coho broodstock goals although that didn’t occur until late last month. In Hood Canal, the Quilcene early coho return came back less than half the preseason expectation and the size of jack coho was much smaller.”

“There was a size issue throughout the Puget Sound area and the lower returns had us taking a precautionary move to a one coho daily limit,” Baltzell said. “It was the right move in retrospect and helped us move more coho into the rivers.”

The mid- and southern-Puget Sound and Hood Canal chum forecast of 642,740 doesn’t appear to be materializing and at this point WDFW downgraded the run to almost half the preseason expectation.

“It is really hard for us as fishery managers to pinpoint the cause for all of it,” Baltzell said. “We can point the finger to marine survival and conditions in the ocean like the warm blob that sat off the coast up to Alaska for a while. We also know the Canadian sockeye runs tanked this year and saw it in our own like Lake Washington that virtually got nothing back.”

The ocean salmon fisheries from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco between June 22 through Sept. 30 encountered a mixed bag of success.

“Fishing was pretty much what I expected it to be,” Beeghly said. “The chinook fishery was slow except up north off Neah Bay where it was pretty good this past summer. The majority of chinook we see in ocean fisheries are headed for the Columbia River and their forecasts were down so the poor fishing came as no surprise.”
Close to a million coho were forecasted to flood the Columbia River this past summer and that too was a downer.

“The coho fishing wasn’t quite as good as I had expected, but we saw some decent fishing at Ilwaco and Westport,” Beeghly said. “The Columbia coho forecast didn’t come back like we originally thought but better than the past three or so years. The hatchery coho mark rate was lower than anticipated.”

Coast wide only 51.1 percent of the hatchery coho quota of 159,600 was achieved, and 41.4 percent of the chinook quota of 26,250 was caught.

Areas north of Leadbetter Point saw a coho mark rate of somewhere under 50 percent and Ilwaco where data was still being crunched might come out to be a little higher than that.

Once the fish arrived in the Lower Columbia at Buoy 10 it appeared the catch of hatchery coho fell well short of expectations with a lot of wild fish released although some glory moments occurred early on.

Coastal and Columbia River chinook forecasts should come to light around the Christmas holidays. The Pacific Fishery Management Council preseason meeting will occur in mid-February. That is just ahead of when Oregon Production Index coho forecasts will be released.

As Baltzell rubbed the crystal ball looking into 2020 it still remains pretty foggy at this point but general expectations aren’t rosy.

“It would be fair for me to say that I wouldn’t expect anything much better in 2020 than what we saw in 2019,” Baltzell said. “We have no forecast information at this point but I wouldn’t expect a rosier outlook as far as chinook goes for next year.”

State, federal and tribal fishery managers in 2020 will be faced with a lot of same wild chinook stock issues as in recent past years like mid-Hood Canal and Stillaguamish. Add on top of that killer whale orca issues as well as the pending Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan that has been looming a dark cloud for the past three years with no end in sight just yet.

“If I had to gauge things out my gut reaction is we’ll likely have to take a more cautionary approach again next year,” Baltzell said.

The WDFW general salmon forecast public meeting will occur Feb. 28 at the DSHS Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia. The first North of Falcon meeting is March 16 at the Lacey Community Center and the second meeting is March 30 at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites. Final seasons will determined April 5-11 at the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver, WA.

Final summer ocean salmon sport fishing catch data

Ilwaco (including Oregon) – 44,297 anglers from June 22 to September 30 caught 4,018 chinook (56% of the area guideline of 7,150) and 53,377 coho (67% of the area sub-quota of 79,800).

Westport – 23,465 anglers from June 22 to September 30 caught 2,336 chinook (18% of the area guideline of 12,700) and 20,221 coho (34% of the area sub-quota of 59,050), plus 700 pinks.

La Push – 2,076 from June 22 to September 30 caught 449 chinook (41% of the area guideline of 1,100) and 1,752 coho (43% of the area sub-quota of 4,050), plus 206 pinks. Late-season fishery October 1-13 saw 240 anglers with 164 chinook (64% over the fishery guideline) and 16 coho (16% of the fishery quota).

Neah Bay – 10,116 anglers from June 22 to September 30 caught 3,895 chinook (75% of the area guideline of 5,200) and 6,223 coho (37% of the area sub-quota of 16,600), plus 869 pinks. Chinook retention closed July 14.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Dungeness crab fishery reopens in Areas 8-2 and 8-1

The east side of Whidbey Island (Marine Catch Areas 8-1 and 8-2) has reopened daily for Dungeness crab fishing through Dec. 31. WDFW says crab abundance remains good indicating that the quota could be increased in-season. Crab pots must be set or pulled from a vessel and is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Dungeness crab fishing is also open daily through Dec. 31 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Areas 4B, 5 and 6); San Juan Islands (Area 7); and northern Puget Sound (Area 9 except waters north of the Hood Canal bridge to a line connecting Olele Point and Foulweather Bluff).

NW Fishing Derby Series hits refresh button in 2020

After 17 wonderful years since the derby series began in 2004, we’ve decided it’s time for a change and rebranded it to the “Northwest Fishing Derby Series.”

Our hope is that anglers will like the direction as we diversify the fish species our events target while boosting the number of derbies to 20 in 2020 up from 14 events in 2019.

New events are the Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby on May 23; For the Love of Cod Derbies in Coos Bay/Charleston areas and Brookings, Oregon March 21-22 and March 28-29 respectively; Father’s Day Big Bass Classic on Tenmile Lake at Lakeside, Oregon on June 21-22; and the Something Catchy Kokanee Derby at Lake Chelan on April 18-19.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The highlight is a chance to enter and win a $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize all-white KingFisher 2025 Escape HT boat powered with Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ Loader Trailer. One of our newest sponsors of the derby – Shoxs Seats (www.shoxs.com) – has provided a pair of top-of-the-line seats that are engineered for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas.

The good news is anglers who enter any of the 20 derbies don’t need to catch a fish to win this beautiful boat and motor package!

A huge “thank you” to our other 2020 sponsors who make this series such a success are Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Scotty Downriggers; Burnewiin Accessories; Raymarine Electronics; WhoDat Tower; Dual Electronics; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; Lamiglas Rods; 710 ESPN The Outdoor Line; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; and Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.

First up are the Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2 (already 50 percent of tickets have been sold as of Nov. 13); Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. A new website is currently being designed and will be launched sometime in mid-December but for now, go to http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

In the meantime, take a break from holiday shopping and hit up a lake or open saltwater areas for a feisty fish tugging on the end of your line.

I’ll see you on the water!

Whidbey, Camano Waters Reopening For Crabbing

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Two marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing beginning Thursday, Nov. 28, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

MARINE AREA 8-2, WHERE LOGAN, CHAD, KYLE AND PAYSON HAULED THESE DUNGIES, WILL REOPEN FOR WINTER CRABBING ON THANKSGIVING . (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Waters reopening to recreational crabbing on Nov. 28 are Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay) and Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner).

Recent evaluations of these fisheries show signs of continued good crab abundance, indicating that the quota could be increased in-season, and the recreational fishery could reopen.

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Sport crabbers are reminded that 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. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

Crabbers must have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement to harvest Dungeness crab from Puget Sound. All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season recreational fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter catch record cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state.

Winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb.1, 2020.  For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/fishing/catch-record-card/dungeness.

South Sound Deer Feeding Video Goes Viral; ‘Definitely Not OK’

Sixty years ago Herron Island was billed as offering some of the “finest deer hunting … anywhere,” but these days the settled Deep South Sound isle is attracting attention for a resident’s viral blacktail video.

A SCREENSHOT OF THE VIRAL VIDEO AND WDFW’S RESPONSE. (TWITTER)

The 11-second-long Twitter post made yesterday showing nearly a dozen deer chowing down around a table has been viewed over 202,000 times as of midafternoon, been retweeted 2,800 times and liked 14,800.

Just not by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This is definitely not ok!” agency social media monitors posted on the thread. “While we appreciate the sentiment, please remember it is never ok to feed wild animals. We cannot teach animals to rely on humans for survival.”

The video was taken by @Herronisland, who describes herself as a “Female retired attorney, kayaker, walker, pescatarian, reader, tv-watcher” who lives on the 286-acre island located between Hartstine Island and the Key Peninsula north of Olympia.

I feed the deer in front of my garage every morning. I’ve posted about this before. Sometimes there are as many as 20. Today, just a few,” she tweeted Sunday.

Most comments are supportive and in responding to them, the woman says that the feed consists of mostly alfalfa that she buys around $100 worth of a month, and that no hunting is allowed on the island.

It was a different story back in 1951, when William Sehmel bought Herron for $100,000 and logged much of it over the following years, as well as enjoyed pursuing its blacktails.

“We estimated there were 60 or 70 deer on the island when we started, and there were 60 or 70 when we sold it. And that doesn’t include the ones I shot!” he told the Key Pen News for a 2018 article.

He sold the island to a developer and it has been subdivided into hundreds of lots, many of which now have houses on them.

A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY SHORELINE PHOTO SHOWS THE NORTH END OF HERRON ISLAND. (DOE)

As much as we all care about wildlife, feeding is said to cause “more harm than good” for deer, potentially spreading disease, making for more aggressive bucks and does, or leading them to be more dependent on handouts.

Then there’s what else is attracted by all that free food.

I stopped putting out sunflower and other seeds out for my local tweety birds after rats started showing up, and I haven’t resumed. I’d argue I have just as many birds as before, and now also quite a bit fewer rodents.

In some areas state wildlife managers do need to feed big game herds, typically where their winter range has been subsumed by farming or development or they might come into contact with disease-bearing domestic animals.

“We feed in select cases for specific reasons,” WDFW vet. Dr. Kristin Mansfield said in a press release last winter. “But it’s neither effective nor desirable to feed wildlife on a broad scale.”

Nobody is probably speeding around Herron Island, but vehicle collisions in neighborhoods are one reason Bend, Oregon, is looking to ban deer and elk feeding in city limits. Instead of rats, the worry there is cougars and coyotes coming into town.

And the Long Beach Peninsula in Southwest Washington was the scene of illegal bear-feeding issues with local residents, with one woman getting bitten and her dog killed.

I’m just as guilty of this as the next person, but sometimes when we think we are doing good, we’re not really.

Comment Open For Cooke Sterile Steelhead Seapen Proposal

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM WDFW

Yesterday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began a 21-day public comment period regarding Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal to farm sterile (triploid) rainbow trout/steelhead in Puget Sound.

ANGLERS FISH NEAR A BROKEN CYPRESS ISLAND NETPEN IN HOPES OF LANDING ATLANTIC SALMON IN THE AFTERMATH OF AUGUST 2017’S DISASTER. (DNR)

The Department posted a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) mitigated determination of non-significance that analyzes the environmental impacts of Cooke’s proposal to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to farming steelhead in several of the company’s existing facilities. These facilities include four net pens located near Rich Passage and Skagit Bay, but in the future may cover three more Puget Sound net pens currently owned by Cooke.

“Given the escape of Atlantic salmon in 2017, we know that there is a heightened sense of concern around the impacts of fish aquaculture in Puget Sound,” said WDFW Fish Program Director Kelly Cunningham. “We want to hear from the public about Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal and our proposed permit requirements.”

In addition to agreeing to farm only sterile fish, Cooke will also need to prescreen any fish destined for net pens in Washington waters to ensure that they are free of disease.

Cooke submitted a five-year Marine Aquaculture Permit application to WDFW in January 2019, and a SEPA Environmental Checklist with supporting documents in July 2019.

WDFW continues to work with its natural resource agency partners to provide oversight and ensure compliance with the terms of aquaculture permits and leases in Puget Sound. Cooke’s proposal would also be subject to additional regulatory review by WDFW’s sister state agencies before the proposed transition could take place.

The public is asked to submit comments by Oct. 22, 2019. The determination, including ways to comment, and supporting documents can be found at: https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/environmental/sepa/open-comments.

Crabbing Reopens Today In Straits, North Sound

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Several marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing on Oct. 1, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced.

The openings were approved by fishery managers after summer catch assessments by WDFW indicated additional crab are available for harvest during the late season.

PUGET SOUND AND STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA CRABBERS CAN HEAD BACK OUT SEVEN DAYS A WEEK STARTING OCT. 1, WDFW ANNOUNCED SEPT. 30. KIRAN WALGAMOTT SHOWS OFF ONE OF SEVERAL DUNGIES HE HAULED OUT OF THE WATERS OFF ANACORTES DURING THE SUMMER SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardiner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Sport crabbing will not reopen for winter in marine areas 10 (Seattle Bremerton), 11 (Vashon Island), and 13 (South Puget Sound). It is still uncertain whether portions of marine areas 9 (Port Gamble/Port Ludlow) and 12 (Hood Canal – North of Ayock Point) will open for a shortened winter season. WDFW expects to announce a decision in the future on whether these areas will reopen.

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. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

You must have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement to harvest Dungeness crab from Puget Sound. All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season recreational fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter catch record cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state.

Winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb.1, 2020.  For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/fishing/catch-record-card/dungeness.

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.

CHAD AND LOGAN SMITH SHOW OFF A SILVER THEY CAUGHT DURING LAST WEEKEND’S EVERETT COHO DERBY. WEIGHING IN AT 7.73 POUNDS, IT WAS THE 75TH LARGEST OF THE 930 ENTERED. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

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.

Puget Sound Coho Limit Dropping To One Monday

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.

THE 2015 SEASON WAS MARKED BY SMALL, VERY HUNGRY COHO LIKE THIS ONE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

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.

 

Pugetropolis Coho Derbies, Salmon Series Raffle Boat On Tap

As summer nears an end, a pair of big Puget Sound silver salmon derbies appear on the calendar, with one also providing the venue for the annual raffling off of a $75,000 boat package.

This Saturday, Sept. 7, sees the Edmonds Coho Derby while the Everett Coho Derby goes down Sept. 21-22.

At the latter somebody who’s entered one of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series’ many events across the region this year will have their name drawn for a Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop with Yamaha 200- and 9.9-horse motors, EZ-loader galvanized trailer and more.

THE WINNER OF THE 2019 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES GRAND RAFFLE PRIZE, THIS BOAT AND ALL THAT COMES WITH IT, WILL BE AWARDED AT LATE SEPTEMBER’S EVERETT COHO DERBY. (NMTA)

For the past two years the package has been won by Idaho anglers who entered late July’s The Big One Derby on Lake Couer d’Alene, but who knows who will win the 2019 edition.

Anglers will be more focused on pulling the biggest coho out of local waters, but should note that while the southern portion of Marine Area 8-2 will be available for Edmonds event participants, it won’t be open during the Everett derby.

With federal fishery overseers classifying Snohomish coho as an “overfished” stock, state managers are trying to get as many wild and hatchery fish back to the system as they can.

Another saltwater option for both events is the Tulalip Bubble, which is open Saturdays and Sundays through September.

Recent WDFW catch reports do show silvers being caught inside Puget Sound, and more in the Straits.

The Edmonds Derby is put on by the Sno-King Chapter of the venerable Puget Sound Anglers organization, and features a $5,000 top prize for largest silver, $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third. Unlike the Everett derby, it is only held on saltwater. Last year’s winner was Bill Turner who weighed in a 10.1-pounder.

Today is your last day to buy tickets. For more, see edmondscohoderby.com.

ANGLERS LIKE MICHAEL RIAN (SECOND FROM RIGHT) WILL BE COMPETING TO CATCH THE LARGEST SILVER AT A PAIR OF DERBIES IN SEPTEMBER TO SCORE COLD, HARD GREENBACKS. FIRST UP IS THE EDMONDS COHO DERBY THIS SATURDAY, THEN COMES THE EVERETT COHO DERBY TWO WEEKENDS LATER. (EVERETT COHO DERBY)

AREA 8-2 IS WHERE 2018’s Everett Coho Derby winner caught his $10,000 fish in heaving seas, but you can bet that Michael Rian will just take his very specific strategy to nearby Area 9, Admiralty Inlet, the pipeline that will funnel hundreds of thousands of the bright salmon to Central, South and Deep South Sound streams.

He swears by 66 feet based on experiences in British Columbia and at last year’s derby.

“Our group … has caught a very high number of coho at that exact depth, and have tried to disprove the theory, and we keep losing!” he told me following last year’s win.

Rian used an orange-label herring in a Rhys Davis anchovy helmet in gold, green and chrome and tandem 2/O and 3/O barbless hooks on a 6-foot, 30-pound fluorocarbon leader behind an 11-inch flasher in gold green.

MICHAEL RIAN WON $10,000 AT LAST YEAR’S EVERETT COHO DERBY WITH THIS 13.27-POUNDER. (MICHAEL RIAN)

Last year was the first time the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and Everett Steelhead & Salmon Club had been able to hold the derby since 2015 due to low returns and fishery closures. Over the past decade or so, Areas 8-2 and 9 have both produced three winning fish, Area 10 one and the Snohomish one (coincidentally also the largest, 18.16 pounds).

Proceeds benefit local fish projects, including the release of 80,000-plus coho fry annually.

To get ready for the event, check out John and Conner Martinis’s free “High Percentage Coho Fishing” seminar starting at 6 p.m., Weds., Sept. 19, at Everett Bayside Marine off of West Marine View Drive.

For more, see everettcohoderby.com.

2020 Washington Halibut Season Meetings Coming Up Aug. 29, Late Oct.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is hosting two public meetings to discuss season structure and proposed dates for the 2020 sport halibut season.

The meetings will be held on Aug. 29 and Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St.

HALIBUT ANGLERS LIKE JAKE MANDELLA WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO VOICE THEIR OPINIONS ON WASHINGTON’S 2020 SEASONS AT A PAIR OF UPCOMING MEETINGS IN MONTESANO. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

At the Aug. 29 meeting, state halibut managers will review the 2019 season and work with stakeholders to develop a range of preliminary options focused on general concepts such as ways to extend the season length and maximize fishing opportunity.

At the second meeting on Oct. 28, in addition to refining the options developed at the first meeting, WDFW staff will collect further public input, review tide calendars for next spring, and select specific season dates that attempt to balance needs across various fishing communities and charter and private fishing interests.

“The sport halibut fishery is very popular, and these meetings are a good opportunity to provide input,” said Heather Hall, coastal policy coordinator for WDFW.

These meetings will allow WDFW to gather stakeholder input prior to meetings of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) in September and November.

For more information on the halibut season-setting process visit PFMC’s website at http://www.pcouncil.org/pacific-halibut/background-information/.

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