SEATTLE — A brief recreational chinook salmon fishery will open for two weekends beginning Aug. 4 in a targeted area of Elliott Bay, the Washington Department of Fish (WDFW) and Wildlife reported today.
Fisheries biologists said the fishery will not hinder efforts to recover listed Puget Sound wild chinook and will be monitored by samplers to ensure an accurate, on-going estimate of the harvest is obtained.
Enforcement officers will be out in force to make sure regulations are obeyed.
"This is a highly targeted fishery within a very specific area of the bay that is subject to change at any time," WDFW Director Jeff Koenings said. "The biological basis which formed the decision to have a fishery has been firmly established and agreed to by our tribal co-mangers as well as federal fisheries officials."
"While the Department is pleased it can offer a limited and highly selective recreational fishery, everyone should keep in mind that the conservation and recovery of Puget Sound wild chinook remains our highest priority and, as such, will drive our decisions about the fishery," Koenings added.
A recreational sport fishery has been scheduled from noon Aug. 4 to noon Aug. 7, and from noon Aug. 11 to noon Aug. 14. Anglers each day may keep two salmon. Only one of the two may be a chinook.
The Muckleshoot and Suquamish tribes plan one-night-a-week net fisheries during the weeks of Aug. 7 and Aug. 14.
The sport season openings will occur east of a line from Pier 91 to Duwamish Head, in an area where the Green River chinook will be concentrated and other critical Puget Sound stocks can be avoided. Anglers should take careful note of the boundaries defining areas opened and closed to chinook fishing, as well as areas closed to all salmon angling.
The fishing plan was developed by state and tribal salmon managers after public meetings and consultations with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which reviewed and approved the plan as consistent with the Endangered Species Act.
Biologists emphasized that the sport fishery, as well as the tribal fishery also planned, could be modified or canceled if ongoing sampling tests reveal unexpected fluctuations in run size.
Last year, a short recreational season that had been planned was canceled by the department after test fisheries indicated fish were returning at numbers lower than predicted and there was no biological basis for the fishery.
Scientists from the department, NMFS and the Seattle-area tribes expect 13,200 hatchery and 9,500 wild fall chinook to return to the waters of Elliott Bay. Of that total, 8,800 can be harvested by tribal and non-tribal fishers, scientists said.
Scientists said at least 5,800 Green River wild chinook need to reach the spawning grounds in the river to perpetuate the run, and the fishery will be monitored to ensure that number or more reach the grounds. The wild chinook run has exceeded its spawning goal in each of the last five years.
Only 2,400 of the hatchery chinook are needed for the continuation of production programs at the Green River Hatchery, leaving the balance available for harvest, according to scientists.
As usual, anglers should consult the department's "Fishing and Washington" rules pamphlet for complete information on boundaries.
For more information see the Elliott Bay sport fishery fact sheet.