Tag Archives: salmon

Neah Chinook Retention To Close; La Push King Limit Dropping To 1

THE FOLLOWING ARE  WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE-CHANGE NOTICES

Anglers must release Chinook in Neah Bay beginning Sunday, July 14

MARK BACKMAN SHOWS OFF A NEAH BAY CHINOOK FROM LAST SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONT

Action: Closes Chinook retention.

Effective date:  July 14, 2019.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location:  Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).

Reason for action: Marine Area 4 is expected to reach its Chinook guideline at current catch rates, which would require closure of the fishery in the area; this rule should extend the fishing season to provide opportunity to access harvestable coho in the area.

Additional information: Waters of Marine Area 4 east of a true north-south line through Sail Rock are closed. The daily limit for salmon in Neah Bay remains at two salmon.

Anglers are reminded to always check for emergency rule changes prior to fishing. Rule changes can be found on the website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500.

Change to daily limit for Chinook in La Push

Action:  Anglers may retain only one Chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit

Effective date:  July 15, 2019.

Species affected:  Chinook salmon.

Location:  Marine Area 3 (La Push).

Reason for action:  Chinook retention in adjacent Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) will end July 14.  Adjustment of the Chinook daily limit in Area 3 will help ensure that Area 3 stays within its subarea guideline even if fishing effort shifts from Area 4 to Area 3.

Additional information:  Anglers are reminded to always check for emergency rule changes prior to fishing. Rule changes can be found on the website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500.

 

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Section Of The Upper Columbia, Entiat, Chelan Rivers To Open For Kings

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

Areas of the upper Columbia River and select tributaries to open for Chinook salmon retention

Action: Opens salmon seasons.

Effective date: July 16, 2019

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Salmon rules by dates and location:

THE COLUMBIA BETWEEN WELLS DAM, WHERE SCOTT FLETCHER CAUGHT THIS SUMMER KING, AND ROCKY REACH DAM WILL OPEN FOR CHINOOK RETENTION. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)


1. Columbia River: From the upstream line of Rocky Reach Dam to the boundary markers 400 feet below the spawning channel discharges (on Chelan County side) and the fish ladder (on Douglas County side) at Wells Dam:

· Effective July 16 through Oct. 15, 2019.

· Daily limit 6 Chinook. Minimum size 12 inches. No more than 2 hatchery adult Chinook may be retained in daily limit. Release wild adult Chinook, sockeye, and coho.

· Use of barbless hooks is voluntary. Anglers may fish with two poles with a valid Two-Pole Endorsement.

2. Entiat River: From the mouth (railroad bridge) to the boundary markers located approximately 1,500 feet upstream of the upper Roaring Creek Road Bridge (immediately downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery):

· Effective one hour before official sunrise on July 16 to one hour after official sunset on Sept. 30, 2019.

· Daily limit 6 Chinook. Minimum size 12 inches. Release sockeye and coho.

· Night closure in effect. Use of barbless hooks is voluntary.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE CALIBER OF SUMMER KING RETURNING TO THE ENTIAT NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY. (USFWS)

3. Chelan River: From the mouth (railroad bridge) to the Chelan PUD safety barrier below the powerhouse:

· Effective one hour before official sunrise on July 16 to one hour after official sunset on Oct. 15.

· Daily limit 6 Chinook. Minimum size 12 inches. No more than 2 hatchery adult Chinook may be retained in daily limit. Release wild adult Chinook, sockeye, and coho.

· Night closure in effect. Anti-snagging rule in effect. Use of barbless hooks is voluntary.

Reason for action: Forecasts of hatchery summer Chinook to Entiat and Chelan Falls hatchery programs indicate broodstock needs will be met and surplus hatchery Chinook are available for harvest. Removal of summer Chinook in the Entiat River will also help achieve conservation objectives for spring Chinook on the spawning grounds.

Additional information: WDFW will be monitoring harvest closely and may close one or more areas in-season by emergency rule if necessary. For emergency rule updates, please visit https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

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2,000 Upper North Fork Lewis Smolts Die In Mishap

“Human error” was unfortunately to blame when a steady stream of dead and dying smolts began drifting past Dan Moir and his wife early last month.

A JUNE 1 VIDEO TAKEN BY DAN MOIR SHOWS DOZENS OF DEAD OR DYING SALMON AND STEELHEAD SMOLTS FLOATING DOWN THE NORTH FORK LEWIS RIVER. (DAN MOIR)

They were fishing the North Fork Lewis just below Merwin Dam on June 1 when they noticed dozens upon dozens of the young fish float by their boat.

“They are kinda trying to wiggle, but I think they’re not going to make it,” Moir narrates in the 80-second video he took and shared with Northwest Sportsman magazine. “Some of them made it, but most of them, it looks like they’re dead.”

A tanker truck can be seen just upstream, and according to a report submitted by PacifiCorp to federal fishery overseers 11 days later, some 2,000 smolts died as a result of low oxygen levels in the vehicle’s holding tanks.

The rig was transporting 5,725 coho, spring Chinook and winter-run steelhead — part of an ongoing effort to reseed the upper North Fork — from the utility’s Floating Surface Collector at Swift Dam to a release site on the mainstem Lewis near Woodland.

According to a June 12 letter from PacifiCorp’s Mark Sturtevant, vice president of renewable resources, to National Marine Fisheries Service biologist Josh Ashline, the loss was attributed to oxygen volumes that weren’t adjusted by the driver as the tanker was being loaded with more fish.

Catching his mistake before leaving Swift, he checked on the fish twice en route. The first time they “looked fine,” according to the letter, but down the road at a weigh station pulloff, he “noticed that some of the fish had died and others were distressed.”

Once in cell phone service, he called a manager who advised him to drive to the Merwin Boat Ramp just below the dam, and there they “observed numerous fish mortalities and stressed fish” in the tank.

“(The manager) then directed the truck driver to release the fish into the river,” the report states.

Those were the smolts that the Moirs saw floating downstream.

A check of the rig’s oxygen and water aeration mechanism’s found it to be “functioning as designed.”

“It is something we feel terrible about and don’t want it to happen again,” said PacifiCorp spokesman Spencer Hall yesterday afternoon.

The report details proactive steps taken with drivers and loading protocols to prevent another mishap.

Hall describes it as the “only incident of this nature” since the utility began operating its $63 million surface collector on the uppermost of the three North Fork Lewis impoundments.

It’s part of a federal dam relicensing agreement to open up more than 100 miles of stream habitat in the watershed above Swift Reservoir.

Moir worried in the video that the dead and dying smolts had come from a hatchery release gone very wrong. While it’s likely that most of the fish’s parents did come from a production facility, these young fish were spawned in the wild.

All but 95 of the salmon and steelhead in the tanker truck that day were coho.

The truck driver and manager initially collected around 300 dead fish at the boat ramp, with PacifiCorp biologists recovering another 1,700 in the following days.

It’s primarily a potential setback for the utility’s bid to get a steady stream of 9,000 silvers back to the headwaters, according to a 2012 article in The Daily News that also noted the goal includes 2,000 springers and 1,500 winters.

In its 2018 annual report, PacifiCorp stated that last year it transported 7,060 adult late and early coho, 1,225 winter steelhead and 700 spring Chinook into Swift.

The utility also reported moving 55,336 smolts — 73 percent coho, 14 percent steelhead, 12 percent spring Chinook and 2 percent cutthroat trout — from the FSC to the lower Lewis last year.

Lewis springers have been identified as being among the most important feedstocks for struggling southern resident killer whales.

“While this event is extremely unfortunate, PacifiCorp is proud of the Lewis River Fish Passage Program and its continued success in operations and its contribution to establishing salmon and steelhead populations upstream of Swift Dam,” said Hall.

Editor’s note: The last name of Dan Moir was misspelled in the original version of this blog. Our apologies.

Columbia River Salmon Policies Subject Of Aug. 1 Public Meeting

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

The public is invited to attend a meeting of members of the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions to discuss next steps in the review of salmon management on the Columbia River.

A GUIDE BOAT HEADS IN TO THE WEST MOORING BASIN AT ASTORIA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Room located at 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. S.E. in Salem.

The public is welcome to attend, but public comment will not be taken at the meeting. This meeting will include providing a significant amount of background material. The meeting will also be streamed online.

The Joint-State Columbia River Fishery Policy Review Committee (PRC), made up of members from each state’s commission, is working to find common ground for jointly managed fisheries, and emphasizes having concurrent regulations in these jointly managed waters.

The PRC group began meeting in January, and three additional meetings have been held. Materials from previous meetings can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission/joint-policy-review-committee.

“Since the first meeting of this group, department staff from both Oregon and Washington have provided informational material and analysis for review,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River policy coordinator with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The Aug. 1 meeting will include an overview of Columbia River fishery management, progress to date from the past PRC meetings, and discussions on ways to improve policy and regulatory concurrence between the two states in 2020 and beyond.

The committee is also expected to discuss a schedule for future meetings.

In 2018, WDFW finalized its five-year performance review of the Columbia River Basin Salmon Management Policy of 2013. That review can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/02029/.

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Salmon Recovery Board Announces $45 Million In Grants For Puget Sound Habitat Work

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON RECREATION AND CONSERVATION OFFICE

Efforts to restore Chinook salmon, a critical food source for endangered southern resident orcas, and other Puget Sound salmon populations just got a boost thanks to more than $45 million in grants announced today.

AMONG THE $45 MILLION IN PUGET SOUND-RELATED SALMON GRANTS ANNOUNCED BY THE STATE IS $160,000 TO COME UP WITH FINAL DESIGNS TO PLACE LOGJAMS IN JIM CREEK, A TRIBUTARY OF THE SOUTH FORK STILLAGUAMISH RIVER, TO IMPROVE HABITAT FOR CHINOOK AND STEELHEAD. THE STILLY IS ONE OF THE WORST OFF RIVERS IN TERMS OF FISH HABITAT, AND ITS CHRONICALLY LOW RETURNS OF KINGS IMPACT PUGET SOUND FISHERIES, AND TRYING TO INCREASE THE SYSTEM’S HABITAT CAPACITY TO PRODUCE MORE FISH IS ONE WAY OF EASING CONSTRAINTS. (RCO)

The Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, in partnership with the Puget Sound Partnership, awarded 64 grants in counties surrounding Puget Sound, Washington state’s biggest estuary. The grants focus on improving salmon habitat and conserving pristine shorelines and riverbanks.

“When we invest in salmon recovery, it’s not just salmon that we’re saving,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “Whether you live near, love to play in, or simply care about Puget Sound, this funding is a cornerstone of doing that—and investing in that habitat kick starts a suite of other benefits. We’re also preserving our Pacific Northwest legacy, our way of life, our jobs, our neighborhoods, and our communities.”

“We know that restoring salmon to levels that support our environment, other wildlife, and people, takes time, effort, and of course, sustained funding,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which houses the Salmon Recovery Funding Board. “That’s what makes this continued investment so important, and we’re looking forward to seeing it play out in the shovel-ready projects teed up across Puget Sound.”

“The Puget Sound Partnership is committed to recovering salmon populations in this region and we are thrilled to see this funding come through,” said Laura Blackmore Puget Sound Partnership’s executive director. “Salmon are integral to the identity and traditions of the Pacific Northwest and are a vital part of the Puget Sound food web. This funding will support projects that help recover salmon populations and feed our struggling southern resident orcas.”

Grants were awarded in the following counties (click to see project details):

Clallam County………………………. $6,498,354

Island County……………………………. $342,815

Jefferson County………………………. $601,529

King County…………………………… $7,850,587

Kitsap County………………………… $1,560,967

Mason County……………………….. $3,829,757

Pierce County………………………… $2,254,211

San Juan County………………………. $333,253

Skagit County………………………… $3,771,928

Snohomish County…………………. $4,029,908

Thurston County…………………….. $1,376,658

Whatcom County………………….. $12,953,156

Multiple Counties………………………. $397,969

In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon in the Pacific Northwest endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In the next few years, 14 additional species of salmon and steelhead and 3 species of bull trout were listed as at-risk of extinction.

By the end of the decade, wild salmon had disappeared from about 40 percent of their historic breeding ranges in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California. In Washington, the numbers had dwindled so much that salmon, steelhead, and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in nearly three-fourths of the state.

Recovery efforts in the past 20 years have started to slow, and in some cases, reference the declines. Puget Sound steelhead populations are showing signs of recovery but Chinook salmon populations continue to decline.

The grants awarded today include projects that will remove a diversion dam to open 37 miles of habitat on the Pilchuck River, reconnect nearly a mile of the Dungeness River with 112 acres of its historic floodplain, and open up 16 miles of habitat on the Nooksack River.

Projects are prioritized by local watershed groups, called lead entities, as well as regionally ranked by the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. The Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency responsible for leading the Puget Sound recovery effort, coordinates project ranking.

Funding comes from the legislatively approved Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, supported by the sale of state bonds.

Since its inception in 2007, the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund has leveraged $78 million federal and other matching funds and created more than 2,600 jobs. Fund investments have protected more than 3,000 acres of estuary, 80 miles of river for migrating fish and 10,000 acres of watershed habitat.

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Neah Chinook Limit Drops To One A Day

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

Change to daily limit for Chinook salmon in Neah Bay

Action: Anglers may retain only one Chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit in Neah Bay beginning July 8.

ANNIKA MILLER LANDED THIS NICE CHINOOK AT SWIFTSURE BANK OFF NEAH BAY OVER THE LONG HOLIDAY WEEKEND. STARTING MONDAY, JULY 8, THE LIMIT DROPPED FROM TWO KINGS A DAY TO ONE, WHICH STATE MANAGERS SAY WILL STRETCH OUT THE FISHERY. NEARLY 30 PERCENT OF THE QUOTA HAD BEEN CAUGHT IN THE SEASON’S FIRST NINE DAYS. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: July 8, 2019.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Marine Area 4, Neah Bay.

Reason for action: The Neah Bay subarea landed 28 percent of its Chinook guideline for the season through July 1. Reducing the daily limit for Chinook should increase the amount of time the area can remain open under its guideline.

Additional information: Waters of Marine Area 4 east of a true north-south line through Sail Rock are closed. Regulations for other ocean areas remain unchanged.

Anglers are reminded to always check for emergency rule changes prior to fishing. Rule changes can be found on the website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500.

Editor’s note: For ocean salmon catch stats, see this WDFW page.

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NWIFC’s Loomis Pans Patagonia’s Anti-Hatchery Movie

A major voice in Western Washington’s salmon fishery management world says that Patagonia’s new Artifishal movie is a “misguided documentary full of misinformation about the role hatcheries play in salmon recovery.”

Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, adds that it doesn’t use “accurate science” to back up its claims that Chinook, coho and other stocks reared at state, tribal and federal facilities are the reason why wild stocks are declining, and because of that production at them must end.

LORRAINE LOOMIS, CHAIR OF THE NORTHWEST INDIAN FISHERIES COMMISSION. (NWIFC)

“What we know for certain is that eliminating hatcheries would be the end of salmon fishing for generations. More than half of all the salmon harvested in western Washington come from hatcheries,” writes Loomis in her monthly “Being Frank” column distributed around the region.

It comes as backers of the 75-minute movie screen it across the Northwest and elsewhere, and it appeared in early June at the recent Seattle International Film Festival.

I didn’t go see it, but an article in The Guardian describes it as not just about salmon production but also is “a swerve into the metaphyscial (sic), framing the salmon emergency as a question about the human soul, about what it needs – about what we need – to survive.”

But even as the movie “explores wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature,” Loomis writes that hatcheries not only produce fish for harvest, including tribes’ reserved by federal treaties, but help reduce pressure on weak stocks and serve as gene banks for imperiled ones, and that all facilities are operated with management plans to protect unclipped salmon.

The release of the movie comes as efforts ramp up to save Puget Sound’s orcas, which are suffering in part because there’s no longer enough Chinook for them to eat.

That’s in part due to massive habitat degradation, from the mountaintops all the way down to the estuaries, that has reduced waters’ capacity for adults to spawn and young fish to rear, but possibly also the longterm decline of releases of fin-clipped Chinook at particularly state facilities due to hatchery reforms and budget issues.

While hundreds of millions dollars’ worth of work is going on to bolster rivers and the inland sea for salmon, it will take decades if not centuries to really boost numbers of wild fish, time that the southern resident killer whales may not have and which means they’ll be dependent on robust, well-executed hatchery production for the foreseeable future.

A PUGET SOUND ADULT CHINOOK SALMON SWIMS THROUGH THE BALLARD LOCKS. (NMFS)

To that end, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner has called for the release of 50 million additional Chinook smolts.

Meanwhile, even as Loomis does find common ground over farming Atlantic salmon with the outdoor apparel company that’s made environmental issues a core concern, she disagrees that hatcheries are just like the floating sea pens.

“Patagonia could be doing a real service to the resource and all of us by advocating for habitat protection and restoration so that we are no longer dependent on hatcheries,” she states.

Instead, they appear to want to pick a fight on a bridge, burning it in the process.

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Yuasa: Dungeness, Chinook, Coho, Derby Dollars To Score In July

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

Summertime has arrived! The sun is shining bright and early! The weather is sweet! And nothing else is more satisfying than a fresh batch of steamed Dungeness crab!

A CRABBER HOLDS A COUPLE NICE DUNGENESS. MUCH OF PUGET SOUND AND THE STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA OPEN ON JULY 4 FOR THURSDAY-MONDAY SHELLFISHING, THOUGH MARINE AREAS 11 AND 13 AND THE SOUTHERN HALF OF AREA 12 ARE CLOSED DUE TO LOW NUMBERS. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Beginning on the Fourth of July ahead of the fireworks show, anglers will get their first crack at soaking pots for Dungeness crab east of Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary line (Marine Catch Area 4), Sekiu (5), Port Angeles (6), east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) and northern Puget Sound (9). The season is open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

A reduction in the number of days open this summer in central Puget Sound (10) is due to an overage in last year’s catch quota. Crabbing is open July 4 through Aug. 3 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

Hood Canal (12) north of a line projected due east of Ayock Point opens July 4 through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Areas south of Ayock Point are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

In the San Juan Islands (7 South) opens July 11 through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). San Juan Islands (7 North) opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

South-central Puget Sound (11) and southern Puget Sound (13) are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

The big question is what anglers should expect once their pots hit bottom?

“Dungeness crab populations in the southern reaches of Puget Sound and southern Hood Canal have experienced stress in recent years,” said Bob Sizemore, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) shellfish policy manager. “Crabbing in the northern portions of Puget Sound has been very good and should be good again this year.”

A WDFW study from 2018 showed a sharp decline in south-central Puget Sound of 87.4 percent during a three-year period, and in southern Puget Sound it was 96.7 percent over a six-year timeframe.

Test fishing in 2018 showed no presence of Dungeness crab in the size range of 3.5 to 5.7 inches, indicating several year classes are missing. In general, test fishing in 2019 did show a slight improvement although nowhere near the levels to even consider opening the two southern-most reaches of Puget Sound and southern Hood Canal.

“Nobody harvested crab last year (in south central and southern Puget Sound) and the test fishery catch of legal-size crab per pot didn’t improve significantly (in 2019) so Mother Nature has the faucet still turned off at the other end,” said Don Velasquez, the WDFW head Puget Sound shellfish manager. “It takes about four years for crab to get to their legal-size and were still paying the price for what happened well before this year.”

In sport, tribal and non-tribal commercial fisheries during 2018 there was 9,225,000 pounds landed, which is down from 9,285,512 in 2017; 10,645,000 in 2016. The record catch occurred in 2015 when 11.8 million pounds was landed.

General rules are crab pots may not set or pulled from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Crabbers in Puget Sound must immediately write down their catch on record cards immediately after retaining Dungeness crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five male Dungeness crab in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. For details, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

Summer salmon fisheries in full bloom this month

Salmon fishing options expand this month but be sure to carefully look at the regulation pamphlet since there’s a myriad of areas that are either open or closed to protect weak wild stocks of salmon.

Look for a short, but sweet hatchery chinook fishery in the San Juan Islands (Area 7), which is open July 1-31. The preseason prediction of legal-size chinook encounters in Area 7 during July is 3,622 and is managed by WDFW as a season from beginning to end.

CHINOOK RETENTION OPPORTUNITIES ARE ONGOING ON THE WASHINGTON COAST NOW, BEGIN IN THE STRAITS AND SOUND THIS MONTH, AND TRANSITION TO THE LOWER COLUMBIA RIVER NEXT MONTH. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Time on the water has dwindled dramatically in northern Puget Sound (Area 9) where hatchery chinook fishing opens briefly from July 25-28. The hatchery chinook quota of 3,501 is well below the 5,400 in 2018. WDFW will assess catches after July 28 to see if more chinook fishing is possible. Area 9 remains open July 25 through Sept. 30 for pink and hatchery coho.

Central Puget Sound (Area 10) is also open for hatchery chinook from July 25 – later than 2018’s July 16 opener – and closes Aug. 31 or until a quota of 3,057 (4,473 in 2018) is achieved. Area 10 then reverts to a coho and pink directed season from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know if you’re planning on targeting Area 10 summer kings is to go right when it opens to get in as much fishing time as possible. Those who want to get out into Area 10 right now should find some very good resident coho action, which has been off the charts since it opened last month for coho only.

Salmon fishing communities along the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles to Sekiu should see some glory moments for summer chinook.

Port Angeles (Area 6) is open July 1 to Aug. 15 for hatchery-marked chinook west of a true north/south line through Number 2 Buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook (release chum and wild coho and chinook). A chinook release area from July 1 through Aug. 15 is east of a true north/south line through the Number 2 Buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook (release all chinook, chum and wild coho). Area 6 is open for hatchery coho and pinks from Aug. 16 through Sept. 30 (release all chinook, chum and wild coho). Freshwater Bay is closed for salmon from July 1 through Oct. 31; and Port Angeles Harbor, Sequim Bay and Discovery Bay are closed for salmon from July 1 through Aug. 15.

Hatchery chinook fishing at Sekiu (Area 5) is open July 1 through Aug. 15 except closed in a section at Kydaka Point.

South-central Puget Sound (Area 11) opens July 1 (closed Thursdays and Fridays of each week). Early summer king fishing was decent last summer and hopefully anglers have a similar scenario despite a reduced quota of 2,805 hatchery chinook (5,030 in 2018). Be sure to go sooner than later to the Clay Banks and other nearby hotspots to ensure more time on the water. Once the chinook quota is achieved in Area 11 the fishery reverts to being open daily through Sept. 30 for coho and pinks only.

Hood Canal (Area 12) south of Ayock Point opens for hatchery chinook from July 1 through Sept. 30 and is one of the most underfished areas in our region.

Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) is open year-round for salmon and has a revamped minimum size limit on hatchery chinook of 20 inches through Sept. 30.

An expected 1,009,600 coho (349,000 was the forecast in 2018) – the largest return since 2014 – arrives off the Columbia River mouth and should be the bread winner for all coastal anglers. A mediocre chinook run will also provide some excitement at times.

All four coastal ports – Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Ilwaco – are open daily through Sept. 30 and closes once each area’s catch quota is achieved. The daily limit at Ilwaco and Westport is two salmon and no more than one may be a chinook. The daily limit at La Push and Neah Bay is two salmon.

Like I said earlier check the regulation pamphlet for any changes to seasons or dates and also look at the WDFW eRegs at
https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. I also post updates regularly on my Facebook page “Pacific Northwest Fishing and Outdoors.”

Kids Steelhead Day is July 6 at Reiter Ponds

The Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club and the Sky Valley Anglers are hosting a Kids Steelhead Fishing Event on July 6 at Reiter Ponds on the Skykomish River.

The event will also be held Aug. 3 and are open to all anglers age 14-and-under from 5 a.m. until noon with all the fishing gear – rod and reel – provided. A license isn’t required but each participant will need a salmon/steelhead catch card.

WDFW will block off the bank area from the pond outlet downstream 500 feet to the rapids between Reiter and the Cable Hole.

Sponsors also include Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood, Gibbs Delta, John’s Jigs, Pure Fishing, Element Outdoors, Dead Lead, Conti’s Custom Rods and Seaguar.

Reiter Ponds at 45300 Reiter Road is located off Highway 2 east of Gold Bar. Take Reiter Road for 2.5 miles and turn right onto a road that leads to the parking lot.

There will also be some activities along the shoreline for kids to participate in and WDFW employees will also be on hand. For details, call 206-876-0224 or email Elementmasonry@gmail.com.

NW Salmon Derby Series ramps up in July

The next route in the series offering diverse opportunities to catch fish along with some impressive picturesque scenery and maybe even winning some great prizes are the Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 12-14; and Lake Coeur d’ Alene Big One Fishing Derby on July 24-28.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The grand prize $75,000 Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop boat from Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston will be making the rounds to each derby. The boat is powered with a Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motor on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer.

The boat is rigged with Burnewiin accessories; Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronics stereo. Other sponsors include Silver Horde Lures; Master Marine and Tom-n-Jerry’s; Harbor Marine; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Sportco and Outdoor Emporium; and Prism Graphics. It is trailered with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – not part of the grand prize giveaway – courtesy of Northwest Chevrolet and Burien Chevrolet.
Derbies on the near horizon are Brewster Salmon Derby, Aug. 1-4 (could be cancelled due to low chinook returns so stay tuned); South King County PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 3; Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 10; Vancouver, B.C. Chinook Classic, Aug. 17-18; and Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby, Aug. 31.

There is a total of 14 derbies in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia and drawing for the grand prize boat takes place at the conclusion of the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22.

In other related news, anglers can start looking at 2020 with dates finalized for Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Now it’s time for me to head out the door to wet a line. I’ll see you on the water!

ODFW Extends Nehalem Wild Chinook Limit Reduction Onto Ocean Waters Off Jaws

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

Following conservation measures adopted last week to reduce catch limits in the Nehalem Basin itself, ODFW has implemented a temporary rule modifying catch limits for adult wild Chinook salmon in the ocean immediately off the mouth of Nehalem Bay. 

MIKE SMITH SNAPPED THIS PIC OF THE SUN RISING OVER THE ENTRANCE TO NEHALEM BAY DURING THE 2017 FALL CHINOOK SEASON. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective July 1, ocean anglers fishing inside the special ocean management area (defined below) will be required to abide by the same catch limits as anglers fishing inside the Nehalem River basin. Under these new temporary rules, take of adult wild Chinook salmon in this ocean area and the Nehalem Basin combined is restricted to one adult wild Chinook salmon for the period of July 1-Sept. 15, 2019.

The rule changes do not affect other existing regulations in this ocean area. In particular, anglers will still be required to follow federal rules and use no more than two single point barbless hooks. Catch limits for hatchery salmon and legal size limits also remain unchanged. Salmon caught in this area will still be recorded on the combined angling tag as code “2”, not code “66” (see page 90 of the 2019 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations for location codes).

“During recently held public hearings, one of the concerns we heard was specifically about the ocean immediately outside of the bay, where an opportunity exists for anglers to harvest Chinook salmon bound for the Nehalem Basin,” says Robert Bradley, District Fish Biologist for ODFW’s North Coast Watershed District. “This special ocean management area is intended to ensure that conservation measures needed for the Nehalem Basin are achieved. The action will also make enforcement of the reduced limits more straightforward.”

Bag limit and other restrictions for fall-run Chinook salmon in Oregon coastal basins, including the Nehalem River and this special ocean management area after Sept. 15, will be announced later this summer. For more information about upcoming North Coast fishing seasons, including regulation updates, visit ODFW’s online fishing reports at https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/northwest-zone

Nehalem Bay special ocean management area

The affected area is a seaward rectangle, approximately 0.4 miles south and 0.7 miles north of the center of the channel and 0.5 miles seaward from the mouth of the Nehalem River, defined by the following GPS points:

Point 1: 45° 39’ 00” Latitude and 123° 56’ 31” W Longitude

Point 2: 45° 39’ 00” Latitude and 123° 57’ 15” W Longitude

Point 3: 45° 40’ 00” Latitude and 123° 57’ 15” W Longitude

Point 4: 45° 40’ 00” Latitude and 123° 56’ 24” W Longitude

AN ODFW MAP OUTLINES THE AREA OFF THE MOUTH OF NEHALEM BAY WHERE THE CHINOOK BAG LIMIT IS BEING REDUCED TO ONE WILD KING FOR THE SEASON. (ODFW)

Unexpected Culprits May Be To Blame For Most Chinook Smolt Losses In Lake WA Ship Canal

Quick, name the nonnative fish species you think is most responsible for chowing down on Chinook smolts trying to make it through a bottleneck near the Ballard Locks?

You’re wrong.

Well, you are if you said either smallmouth or largemouth bass, and if some preliminary work by WDFW’s lead Lake Washington fisheries biologist holds water.

ONE YELLOW PERCH CAPTURED IN THE LAKE WASHINGTON SHIP CANAL BY STATE FISHERY BIOLOGISTS HAD THREE CHINOOK SMOLTS IN ITS STOMACH. (WDFW)

“We are finding that large perch are responsible for most of the predation on juvenile Chinook smolts, at least across the few sites we are monitoring,” said the agency’s Aaron Bosworth this week.

He says that yellow perch and burgeoning populations of recently illegally introduced rock bass are “doing way more damage” than bass are in the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

That’s based on netting Bosworth and his crews have been doing this and the past two years.

They’ve been setting and tending nets in the Montlake Cut, Portage Bay, Fremont Cut and Salmon Bay to figure out roughly how many piscivorous fish are in that stretch, and how much of their diet is comprised of young salmon trying to get to Puget Sound in spring.

A WDFW BUOY SITS OFF GASWORKS PARK ON JUNE 4. (BRAD HOLE)

One perch they recently caught was digesting three Chinook smolts.

That fish might have been an outlier, and there’s clear evidence that smallmouth also prey on salmon.

But between those stomach contents and the fact yellowbellies and rock bass make up a surprising 50-plus percent of the net catch, it’s pointing towards unexpected culprits that may be strong and increasing factors depressing salmon survival and thus state and tribal fisheries.

“This is an important — and preliminary — finding, and is slightly different from many existing ideas about which nonnative species are responsible for most of the smolt predation in the Lake Washington system,” Bosworth says.

Where yellow perch were introduced into the Lake Washington watershed a century ago, rock bass are a recent entrant and are originally from the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds.

Bosworth says they were “virtually nonexistent” in the ship canal 10 years ago, but are now “very common” at sampling sites.

CATCH DATA FROM SPRING 2018 BREAKS DOWN SPECIES CAUGHT IN NETS IN THE SHIP CANAL. (WDFW)

This isn’t the only effort trying to gauge predator populations in the basin. Earlier this year we reported on the Muckleshoot Tribe’s warmwater test fisheries in Lake Sammamish, also meant to figure out if directed gillnetting on spinyrays could be a “commercially viable” enterprise there.

It was scheduled to wrap up June 15. Initial data from March and April showed that just over 53.5 percent of the overall catch of 2,849 fish was comprised of native largescale suckers, followed by introduced smallmouth bass (20 percent) and fellow transplant black crappie (9 percent).

But that was also largely before the release of Chinook and coho from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. The percentages and diet may have changed in May and the first half of this month.

(It’s circumstantial, but the mid-May Lake Sammamish Perch Derby catch of just 94 compared to 686 last September may have been related to the flood of young salmon available for the species to eat instead of anglers’ baits.)

AARON BOSWORTH (LEFT) AND OTHER WDFW STAFFERS LIFT A NET FULL OF YELLOW PERCH CAUGHT OFF GASWORKS PARK. (WDFW)

The state’s study in the ship canal and the Muckleshoots’ in Sammamish are both included in what’s known as the LOAF, the 2019-20 List of Agreed Fisheries signed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission coming out of the annual North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process.

“The comanagers believe that many of the salmon smolts produced at our hatcheries and in natural spawning grounds around the basin are eaten by piscivores as they migrate through the Lake Washington system to marine waters,” states Bosworth.

According to Larry Franks of the Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, or FISH, just 8 to 10 percent of Chinook make it from the facility’s outlet to Shilshole Bay.

WDFW BIOLOGIST DANNY GARRETT DISPLAYS A ROCK BASS, CAUGHT IN 2017. WHERE THERE WERE FEW IF ANY IN THE SHIP CANAL 10 YEARS AGO, THEY’RE NOW FREQUENTLY CAUGHT, AND THE BIGGER ONES LIKE TO EAT SALMON SMOLTS. (WDFW)

To a degree that’s natural as the young of any species are the most vulnerable to getting eaten, but low numbers of returning finclipped adult Chinook are also increasingly constraining the fishing seasons we can have in Puget Sound and the lakes.

That’s leading to fewer days on the water and growing discontent among anglers.

Bosworth calls the ship canal a “predation gauntlet” filled with “lots of over-water structures that attract a number of piscivorous fish species.”

He says its warm waters could also boost the metabolic rates of the predators, meaning they eat more young Chinook, coho and sockeye as the little fish head for the salt.

THE SHIP CANAL CONNECTS LAKE WASHINGTON WITH PUGET SOUND. (WDFW)

Bosworth does allow that not all known salmon snarfers are showing up in the nets. Set for an overnight soak near the bottom, with all the traffic in the ship canal, they are limited to shoreline areas, not the offshore waters where cutthroat trout may lurk.

Cutts are a strong predator of salmon smolts, as are northern pikeminnow. They’re the primary bane of Lake Washington sockeye.

Again, these are initial results but it builds on a City of Seattle paper citing a 2000 USGS study that listed pikeminnow, smallmouth and largemouth as the primary predators in that order in the ship canal back then.

HUNGRY PREDATORS INCLUDING TROUT GATHER AT THE SOUTH END OF LAKE SAMMAMISH IN MIDSPRING TO SNARF DOWN JUST-RELEASED SALMON SMOLTS LIKE THESE COHO THAT SPILLED OUT OF THE BELLY OF A TROUT CAUGHT BY FAUSTINO RINCON THIS YEAR. (FAUSTINO RINCON)

Bosworth says he views this new effort as “an important monitoring program that may help us get a better understanding of why we are seeing such low return rates for salmon in the Lake Washington watershed.”

“I’d really like to expand this type of work in the future to see if this is happening in other areas of the lake as well,” says Bosworth.

The only problem? You guessed it.

Money — it’s tight and getting tighter these days around the biologist’s office.

WDFW had hoped that state lawmakers would approve both its license fee increase and General Fund request this past session for a big $60 million infusion, but in the end there was no hike, it received less than it needed to even maintain fishing and hunting opportunities — and was saddled with added costs without matching funding to boot.

It also must honor commitments it has made with the tribes through past North of Falcons, like continuing the ship canal predator study this year, and hiring more staff “to produce more timely catch estimates from catch record cards,” according to Nate Pamplin, the agency’s policy director.

It has all led to a budget shortfall for monitoring Puget Sound’s hugely important salmon fisheries in the coming two years, but WDFW hopes legislators will fix that with a $1.7 million request they want to include in a supplemental budget request for 2020’s session in Olympia.

So that leaves Bosworth and his project gauging abundance of Lake Washington piscivores and what they’re eating in a bit of limbo.

“I need to figure out how to get other people to help me with the money part.  We’ll see how far I get with that idea,” Bosworth says.

Ideally in his mind, it involves a “regional partnership” with other governmental entities and groups with a stake in improving salmon survival.

YELLOW PERCH AND CHINOOK SMOLTS. (WDFW)

Hell, it could also include anglers.

While there is a consumption advisory out, it sounds to me like Gasworks Park is a pretty damned good place to fish for fat and sassy yellow perch.

With smolts clearing the area soon if not already, I’ll bet they’re getting hungry too.