The state will allow recreational fishermen to keep wild and hatchery coho salmon in the waters off Ilwaco and Westport.
Beginning Sunday, anglers fishing in Marine Area 1 can keep wild or hatchery fish, while the rule change will take effect Friday in Marine Area 2.
These changes do not change the ocean sport fishing regulations in place off LaPush (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4), where anglers will continue to be allowed to retain hatchery coho, but must release wild coho, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
When the season began in June, anglers were limited to keeping only hatchery coho – those fish marked with a missing adipose fin – to make sure the department would meet conservation goals for wild coho while extending fishing through the entire salmon season, said Milward.
However, with only a month remaining in the fishery, just 49 percent of the coho quota has been reached in Marine Area 1 and 48 percent in Marine Area 2.
“With slightly less than half of the coho catch quota remaining in each of those two marine areas this late in the season, we can allow anglers to keep both hatchery and wild coho without exceeding our conservation objectives for wild salmon,” Milward said in a department news release.
As of Aug. 25, anglers fishing out of Ilwaco had caught 18,424 coho of the 37,380 fish quota. Anglers fishing out of Westport, where the coho quota is 27,660 fish, had caught 13,168 coho.
Anglers have a two-salmon daily catch limit in all four marine areas off the Washington coast. Up to two chinook may be retained in all areas; however, chinook must be released in the part of Marine Area 4 east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line. Anglers in marine areas 3 and 4 are allowed two additional pink salmon as part of their daily catch limit.
Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 22 in marine areas 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2.