OLYMPIA – With the exception of one area, this year’s recreational shrimp fishery in Puget Sound will open May 5 under seasons announced today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The exception is the Discovery Bay Shrimp District in Marine Area 6, near Port Townsend, where shrimping will remain closed due to extremely low catches in pre-season testing, said Mark O’Toole, WDFW fish biologist.
“Each year before the season opens we monitor the catch rates and do an assessment of several popular shrimp-fishing areas,” O’Toole said. “The number of spot shrimp in Discovery Bay was too low to open the fishery this year.”
Another change this year occurs in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where shrimping will be open four days a week.
“In the past, Area 7 was open daily, but the quota was reached so quickly we changed it to Wednesdays through Saturdays, to try for a longer season,” O’Toole said.
Similar to last year, Marine Area 11—extending from the northern tip of Vashon Island to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge—will be open for just one day, Saturday May 5, to keep the recreational catch within the area’s spot shrimp harvest quota.
As usual, shrimpers should expect plenty of company on the water, O’Toole said.
“Recreational shrimp fishing has increased dramatically in almost all areas of Puget Sound in recent years,” he said. “For example in marine areas 8 and 9 near Whidbey Island, we’ve gone from about 300 buoys on the opener five years ago to nearly 1,200 now.”
Various fishing schedules will be in effect in the following areas:
- Marine Areas 4 (east of the Bonilla Line), 5, 6, and 13 (excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District) will be open daily beginning May 5 at 7 a.m. until the quota is reached, or through Oct. 15, whichever comes first.
- Marine Area 7 will open May 5 at 7 a.m. and will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays only until the quota is reached.
- Marine Areas 8, 9, and 10, will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Wednesdays only, until quotas for those areas are reached, or until May 31, whichever comes first.
- Marine Area 11 will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5 only.
- Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Wednesdays through May 16, or until the quota is reached, whichever comes first. Additional dates and times may be announced if sufficient quota is remaining.
A strong tidal exchange expected on opening day will mean more challenging fishing conditions, O’Toole said.
“It’s the luck of the draw on the tides, and this year we’re not so lucky on the Saturday opener, although the tides will be more favorable by the next week,” he said.
More information on shrimp seasons and rules is available on the WDFW shellfish hotline at 1-866-880-5431, or online at http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishcorn