OLYMPIA – Sport anglers fishing for salmon off the coast of Washington will be able to increase their daily limit to two chinook, effective June 21.
Since the season began June 1, anglers were limited to one chinook per day, but low catch rates have allowed fishery managers to increase the limit, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
“Because the chinook salmon season started a month earlier this year, we began with a conservative limit to avoid an early season closure,” Pattillo said. “But angler effort was lower than expected the first weeks in June, allowing us to remove the one-chinook restriction.”
Through June 28, anglers are still required to release all other salmon species, including coho salmon, Pattillo said. Starting June 29 in marine areas 1 and 2 (Ilwaco and Westport), anglers will be allowed to keep two salmon of any species, although all wild coho with an intact adipose fin must be released.
The same is true for anglers fishing in marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay), where sport fishing for all salmon species begins July 1.
Salmon fishing in Marine Area 1 is open seven days per week, while fishing in Marine Area 2 is restricted to Sundays through Thursdays. Marine areas 3 and 4 are open five days per week, Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Pattillo said this year’s early start was designed to give ocean anglers an opportunity to catch hatchery chinook salmon before the bulk of the coho run — expected to be the lowest in decades — started arriving.
“We wanted to make sure anglers got a chance to catch chinook in case we had to close the fishery to meet conservation goals for coho,” he said. “But several factors such as high gas prices and rough weather kept anglers away.”
Pattillo said that approximately five percent of the 20,000 chinook set aside for harvest by sport fishers had been caught during the first weeks in June.
Additional fishing regulations, including minimum size limits and area catch guidelines are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.