Wild Coho Retention Opening Off Westport
For the first time since 2015, ocean salmon anglers will be able to retain wild coho off Westport.
The rule change takes effect this Saturday, August 27, in what’s also known as Marine Area 2. Daily limit is two.
The move comes with a reduced quota for the rest of the season. Described by federal overseers as “impact-neutral,” it essentially swapped the roughly 40,000 hatchery coho that had been available through September 30 for a new balance of 14,000 wild and hatchery coho.
WDFW explained it thusly in a rule change notice out this afternoon.
“Mark rates for coho have been lower than expected in Area 2, increasing encounters with Chinook and wild coho as anglers pursue marked coho. A reduction in the remaining quota for the Area 2 fishery was implemented in conjunction with this change to ensure that allowing catch of unmarked coho will not increase impacts on wild coho stocks of concern.”
In a press release out just now, Kyle Adicks, the WDFW intergovernmental salmon manager, added, “Converting the remaining coho quota from mark-selective to non-selective required a significant reduction in the Marine Area 2 quota number to ensure the change does not increase the fishery impact to any of our wild coho stocks. This change should increase the quality of the fishery and allow anglers to attain their daily coho limits faster, while also decreasing the impact of releasing more Chinook and wild coho than anticipated.”
Chinook retention ended in Marine Area 2 this Tuesday; the stock guideline sat at 92 percent through August 21, last Sunday.
Westport anglers have been catching 1.15 to 1.36 hatchery coho a trip in recent weeks (1.63 to 1.76 salmon overall), with fish from 7 to 11.75 pounds (gilled and gutted weight) hitting the Westport Weighmaster’s scale, per Facebook posts for the local charterboat association’s various derbies.
Given ESA listings and weaker stocks, hatchery coho are the primary target on the ocean, but occassionally enough are forecast to return that wild silvers are opened up. That happened later in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015’s seasons.
Oregon holds a more regular fishery for wild silvers in late summer. This year’s begins September 3 with a quota of 17,000 silvers, whether they have an adipose fin or not.
Meanwhile, in other Westport fishing news, last Sunday angler Zach Shackford caught a 21.9-pound steelhead (gilled and gutted weight), a very rare ocean catch that was called a “fish of a lifetime” by one fellow fisherman.
WDFW angler catch card data shows just 20 steelhead landed out of Westport in 2020, the most recent year information is available for. Thirty-four were recorded off Ilwaco, closer to the mouth of the Columbia, the same year.