Recreational salmon fishing will begin in earnest Saturday in most areas off the Washington coast, and it can be some of the best action of the summer.
Fishing in marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) began with two short openings for hatchery chinook in May. The mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in those two marine areas will reopen Saturday and run seven days a week through June 28.
Mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook remain open seven days a week through Saturday in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) and through Friday in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco).
Aside from coho and wild chinook, which must be released, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon in all areas. The fisheries could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook is reached.
Salmon fishing for chinook and hatchery coho will continue Saturday in Marine Area 1, June 23 in Marine Area 2 and June 29 in marine areas 3 and 4. Anglers fishing marine areas 1 and 2 also will have a two-salmon daily limit but can keep only one chinook per day. The fishery will be open daily in marine areas 1, 3 and 4, while Marine Area 2 will be open Sundays-Thursdays.
Anglers also will be allowed to retain two additional pink salmon in marine areas 3 and 4.
The seasons are based on recreation catch quotas set in April by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The chinook quota is 48,000 fish, slightly lower than last year’s quota of 51,500.
The council, which establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters 200 miles off the Pacific coast, also set a quota of 74,760 coho for this year’s recreational ocean fishery, about 5,000 fish higher than last year’s quota.
EARLY SEASON TIPS
Veteran angler and author Terry Wiest said the June fishery off Westport is one of his favorites.
“For early chinook it can’t be beat. The early season, from the get-go, can be incredible,” he said.
Last year, anglers fishing the first weeks of the June season average a chinook per person, Wiest pointed out.
The key to success fishing this time of the year is looking for the schools of fish as they head toward the Columbia River. Wiest recommends watching for birds, using your fish finder and watching for boats hooking fish. Once you locate one of these travel lanes, Wiest said to troll north or south, staying along that depth contour.
At this time of year, the fish travel in shallower water than later in the summer. Begin looking for fish in water 120 feet deep, working your way out to about 200 feet deep.
As for gear, Wiest recommends using a Silver Horde Kingfisher spoon, 31/2-4 inches, in purple haze, green haze, green spatter and blue spatter UV finishes. He will run the spoon about 55 inches behind an 11-inch Pro Troll Flasher in green splatterback, green coyote or purple haze.
Here are additional details for each area:
Marine Area 1: in the Ilwaco area, the minimum size for chinook is 24 inches and 16 inches for coho. There is no minimum size for other salmon species. The season might close earlier if the quota of 37,380 hatchery coho or the 9,900 chinook guideline is attained.
Marine Area 2: Off Westport, the minimum size for chinook is 24 inches and 16 inches for coho. There is no minimum size for other salmon species. The season might close earlier if the quota of 27,660 hatchery coho or the 23,500 chinook guideline is attained.
Marine Area 3: For the La Push area, the minimum size for chinook is 24 inches and 16 inches for coho. There is no minimum size for other salmon species. The season may close earlier if the sub-quota of 1,890 hatchery coho or 1,650 chinook guideline is reached. The season also might change depending on in-season catch projections.
Marine Area 4: West of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line in the Neah Bay area, the minimum size for chinook is 24 inches and 16 inches for coho. There is no minimum size for other salmon species. Beginning Aug. 1, chum salmon must be released. The season may close earlier if the sub-quota of 7,780 hatchery coho or 4,900 chinook guideline is attained.
East of that line, from June 29-July 31, the minimum size for chinook is 24 inches and 16 inches for coho. There is no minimum size for other salmon species.
East of a true north-south line through Sail Rock is closed to salmon fishing. From Aug. 1-Sept. 22, anglers must release chinook, wild coho and chum salmon. During the July-September seasons, fishing might close earlier if quota of 7,780 hatchery coho or 4,900 chinook guideline is attained.
Early-season chinook catcH
Anglers have had some success during early-season fishing for hatchery chinook. These totals are for fishing that took place June 8-9, the opening weekend.
Columbia River area: In the area between Cape Falcon, Ore., and Leadbetter Point, 79 anglers dropped line in this fishery, landing 28 marked chinook.
Westport: In the area between Leadbetter Point and the Queets River, 684 anglers landed 179 marked chinook.
Coastwide: Including early fishing allowed in May, anglers have caught 4.3 percent of the 8,000 chinook quota.Source: State Department of Fish and Wildlife.