OLYMPIA - Ocean waters off Neah Bay will close to recreational salmon fishing at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 2, when the catch of coho salmon is expected to reach the season quota for that area, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The closure affects waters known as Marine Area 4, which extends from Cape Alava on the Pacific coast to the Sekiu River in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Pat Pattillo, WDFW salmon policy coordinator, said there is a possibility the department may reopen fishing in the area if an analysis of catch data shows more salmon can be caught under the area quota. A decision on whether to reopen the fishery is scheduled no later than Sept. 10.
"We need some time to tally the numbers and find out exactly where we're at," Pattillo said. "One thing we know for sure is that this has been one of the best years for salmon fishing out of Neah Bay in recent memory. Both the catch, and the number of anglers, has been much higher than expected."
As of Aug. 22 when the last tally was conducted, anglers had caught 25,762 hatchery coho - representing 84 percent of the area harvest quota - and 5,433 chinook salmon, Pattillo said.
Marine Area 4 will be the first of the four ocean areas to close for salmon fishing this year. The other three areas, extending from Cape Alava south to the mouth of the Columbia River will remain open until the season closes Sept 19, unless catches there meet area quotas before then, Pattillo said.
"Fishing in all three of those areas is still going strong - and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, too," Pattillo said. "A lot of the coho in Marine Area 4 are pushing toward Sekiu right now."