OLYMPIA – With summer salmon fisheries getting under way, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding anglers fishing in several areas of Puget Sound to carefully release any wild chinook they catch.
Under state mark-selective fishing rules, anglers fishing this summer in six marine areas of Puget Sound are required to release any chinook salmon with an intact adipose fin. Hatchery fish, which are marked with a clipped adipose fin, may be retained.
Anglers participating in these fisheries are required to use single-point barbless hooks and must properly release any wild chinook.
“People need to be aware that we’ve added seven new mark-selective fisheries for chinook in Puget Sound – four in the summer and three in the winter,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound recreational salmon manager for WDFW. “Most anglers are good about following the rules, but they should still double-check the regulation pamphlet before heading out.”
While most summer chinook selective fisheries begin in July, two have already started. Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (South Puget Sound) are open for hatchery chinook salmon through September.
Elsewhere, selective fisheries for chinook salmon begin July 1 in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point) and a portion of Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) and run through August, or until the quota is taken. Two other marine areas – 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) – are open for chinook selective fishing from July 16 through Aug. 15, or until the quota is reached.
These fisheries are designed to allow anglers to catch and keep hatchery-produced fish while protecting wild Puget Sound chinook salmon, which are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. While fishing in these selective fisheries, it is illegal for anglers to bring a wild chinook inside the gunwale of a boat.
“WDFW will closely monitor and sample mark-selective fisheries during the summer and winter seasons,” Thiesfeld said. “Our hope is to continue, and even expand, these fisheries. But that can only happen if anglers follow the rules and properly release wild fish.”
Later this year, mark-selective fisheries for chinook in Puget Sound will open in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 and 10. A mark-selective fishery also opens in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) in February 2008.
When releasing salmon, anglers should keep the fish in the water and avoid using a net, Thiesfeld said. If a net is needed, use a rubber net or a soft knotless nylon or cotton net.
Thiesfeld also suggests that anglers:
- Look for the adipose fin while playing the fish, and use polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.
- Avoid the use of light tackle and play the fish quickly to reduce exhausting the fish.
- Modify tackle to reduce potential injury to the fish. For example, use circle hooks when mooching and only one hook on hoochies and bucktails.
- Use a dehooker to remove the hook.
- Cut the leader if the fish has swallowed the hook.
- Avoid touching or handling the fish, especially around the eyes and gills.
- Support the entire length of the fish if it must be lifted out of the water. Do not lift the fish by the tail or jaw.
- Gently place the fish back in the water.
For more information on Puget Sound mark-selective fisheries, check WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
Anglers also can find information on selective fishing and selective fishing techniques, as well as streaming video on how to properly release salmon, on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/selective/techniques/.