Under the new allocation plan that has enabled expansion of recreational opportunities, the 2014 Puget Sound personal use (recreational) spot shrimp, aka prawn, season will start Saturday, May 3 throughout Washington’s inland waters.
Included in this suite of openings is a 13-day set of May shrimping options in waters throughout the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Georgia, otherwise known as Marine Area 7, which for the purposes of shrimp fishing management has been split further into three sub-divisions.
In marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 (excluding the shrimp districts) and 13, pot beginning May 3, shrimpers may set pots every day up to a prawn quota stoppage or to a fixed date, whichever comes first. Of these four zones, the Strait of Juan de Fuca areas are set to close Saturday, Sept. 15, or when their catch ceilings are reached. The South Sound area end date for the taking of spot shrimp is Thursday, May 31.
Shorter spot shrimp stints, measured in days because of the sheer numbers of fishers pursuing the quota capped catches, also get started May 3 in these areas with follow-up open days as indicated:
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Marine Sub-areas 7 East, 7 South and 7 West — May 3, 7-10, 21-24 and 28-31. With a very large sport catch allocation Marine Sub-area 7 West will open for spots daily starting June 1. Pots may be cast beginning one hour before sunrise each open day.
Marine Area 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 10 — May 3 and May 7 only. Last haul is by 3 p.m. both days.
Marine Area 11 — May 3, 7 and 10 only. Last haul is by 3 p.m. all three days.
Pot soaking may commence at one hour before sunrise, 7 a.m. in the latter five management zones when on their open days.
The highly popular shrimp management districts on Discovery Bay and Hood Canal also will be open May 3, 7, 10 and 21 with the Hood Canal fishery running from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each open day and Discovery Bay’s from 7 a.m. to 3 p. m. each open day.
For shrimpers interested in casting pots into the Pacific Ocean, coast areas 1, 2, 3 and 4 (west of Bonilla-Tatoosh line) are open daily year-round for sport.
If sufficient personal use quota remains in any one or more management areas after these general seasons conclude, additional openings could be held.
GEARING FOR SPOTS
Daily limits for shrimp and other terms vary depending on the species, as do certain other gear characteristics.
In the month of May, later in the case of Marine Sub-area 7 West, spot shrimp fishers: are allowed up to 80 shrimp per day, may fish up to two pots individually with a maximum of four pots per boat, must have separate keeper containers, and may remove the heads in the field.
The minimum mesh size for all pots when fishing spot shrimp is one inch.
Following May fisheries targeting spots, further opportunities may be scheduled for the smaller dock, humpback and pink species will continue from June 1 on in most areas with a maximum set depth of 150 feet. Only the smaller humpback, dock and pink shrimp species may be retained at a daily ‘weight limit’ of 10 pounds (heads on) per angler.
Heads must be kept on the smaller species when in the field.
When fishing for these smaller shrimp the mesh size on pots may measure 1/2 inch.
To be able to set and leave your two shrimp pots, they must be on separate lines each with its own buoy on which legal ownership identification must be written.
DIALING IN SHRIMP SEASONS
For the rest of the details governing recreational shrimp fishing in 2014 see the 2014-15 FishWashington sport fishing rules pamphlet when it comes out on May 1. For the online version, log on to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.
For announcements of early shrimp catch cap closings or additional openings go to wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp/and select the appropriate shrimp management marine area or district.
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald’s outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at bellinghamherald.com/outdoors-blog/