Recreational salmon anglers will see fishing seasons similar to last year, with the bright spots being the large number of pink salmon returning to the South Sound and coho fishing off the coast.
The 2013-14 salmon fishing seasons were finalized Wednesday during the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland. The agreement covers salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington’s ocean and coastal areas and Columbia River.
While most of the seasons have been set, state and tribal negotiators still are working to reach agreement on seasons for the Puyallup and Skokomish rivers.
Sport anglers fishing the Pacific Ocean from Neah Bay to the mouth of Columbia River should see plenty of coho, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy lead for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“We’re expecting the coho fishing to be good this year compared to last year,” he said. “The forecast is much stronger for hatchery coho. Last year we caught only half the quota and it was a smaller quota. So we should have a good year.”
The council, which sets fishing seasons in ocean waters 3 to 200 miles off the coast, adopted a quota of 74,760 coho, about 5,000 more fish than last year. The recreational chinook catch quota is 48,000 fish, down from last year’s quota of 51,500.
As for pink salmon, with more than 6 million pink salmon expected to return this year, bonus bag limits — two additional pinks per day — will be established in all marine areas except Hood Canal. That includes Marine Area 13, the waters south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridges, where there was no such bonus in 2011. Pinks return to Washington waters in odd-numbered years.
There also will be a similar bonus pink limit on the Nisqually River.
“We hadn’t done it in the past because the Nisqually pink run has been so low, but now that it’s booming, it’s something we can do,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager.
There will be, however, a decrease in the chinook limit on the Nisqually. Anglers will be able to keep just two chinook a day, down from three, Thiesfeld said.
Another change is a prohibition of recreational fishing from a floating device for about 14 days, Thiesfeld said. That is to avoid conflicts between nontribal and tribal fishermen in how and where they fish and how they interact.
That is one issue affecting negotiations for the Puyallup and Skokomish seasons, Pattillo said. In recent years, there have been temporary closures on the Puyallup to avoid such conflicts. In 2012, for example, there were six days when the lower river was closed to recreational fishing. The state and tribes also are trying to limit impacts on wild chinook, which are listed under the Endangered Species Act.
While state and tribal co-managers continue negotiations, the talks won’t be complete in time to be included in the annual state fishing rules pamphlet, Pattillo said.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640