Skagit Sockeye may still be on the way

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 28, 2014 

The Skagit's in-river sockeye fishery will close as scheduled Sunday, June 29 and though the flowing waters catches have not lived up to angler expectations, the Baker Lake stanza for these reds is still going on as scheduled.

State fisheries managers report that even though angler encounters were few in the 16 day fishery, Baker sockeye recruitment to the Puget Sound Energy trap at Concrete is only just a little behind the pace of previous years.

To date, 108 adult fish have been captured and hauled from PSE's trap and transfer facility with 17 of them going into the lake. In their trap and taxi history, in some years no Baker fish arrived until after the first of July.

The first pair of 2014 Baker sockeye arrived Thursday, June 12 and in the last two days double digit transfers of 42 and 30 adult fish.

Reports from commercial fisheries in Canadian waters indicate a significant diversion of homing Fraser and Puget Sound sockeye down the inside passage is occurring.

This eastside Vancouver Island route is favored by these and other salmon coming south when ocean waters along the outer coast are warmer.

Salmon progress can be slower in the confined channels between the big island and the mainland including Johnstone Strait where they often encounter phalanxes of marine mammal predators in tighter spaces and tidal currents can affect daily movement.

A clearer look at this years run will be available early next week when genetic profiles from samples taken from initial Area 20 Canadian fisheries give an indication of early run strengths based on the percentages of each stock in the catches.

Insofar as the Baker sockeye run is concerned, at this time the lake fishery is a go and managers say there is still the likelihood of adult returns coming in as predicted.

About 1,500 sockeye are put into the upper reservoir with the expectation they will spawn. Another 6,300 are need for the artificial spawning beach and the hatchery egg-take and incubation programs.

If those numbers achieve, anglers will get a chance to get their share.

Anglers are encouraged to check WDFW's Web page where emergency rule changes are post in case the sockeye do not materialize in adequate numbers and the opportunity must be curtailed.

SHRIMPING CONTINUES

Recreational coonstripe and pink shrimp fisheries reopened at the beginning of this month continue in marine areas, 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 11. Personal use pots may not be set in these areas deeper than 150 feet.

Marine Area 7 East also is reopening the non-spot shrimp species but with a maximum fishing depth of 200 feet.

All spot shrimp or prawns caught in these opportunities must be returned to the water immediately.

State managers also advise that spot as well as coonstripe and pink shrimp still are fair game in marine areas 4, 5, 6 and 7 West.

CHINOOK FISHERIES CHANGES

As of Saturday, June 28 the all reaches of the Snake River fisheries for early chinook have closed for the season.

The lower Kalama River opening for early kings targeting fin-clipped fish opens on the same day for a little more than a month. The chinook reach is from the Kalama's mouth upstream to 1000 feet below the upper salmon hatchery's fishway. Terminal tackle restrictions apply.

A first-in-a-long-while four-day opening for spring chinook on Southeast Washington Grande Ronde River runs through Monday, June 30 targeting a later returning hatchery component.

State fish and wildlife managers announced earlier this month the opening of the Klickitat River above the Fisher Hill Road for hatchery spring chinook.

On the saltwater side, anglers are looking forward to Tuesday's kick-off to the 2014 summer salmon season in portions of Marine Area 7 and other Puget Sound management zones.

Greater Bellingham Bay remains closed to allow early kings to get back to the Nooksack.

Anglers can keep up to date on regulations and any changes by visiting http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.

Reach ANDREW LANG at andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com or call ext. 862.

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