OLYMPIA – Salmon anglers along most of the Washington coast will be able to fish seven days a week and keep up to two chinook per day beginning Friday, July 29, under a rule change approved today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Only Neah Bay (Marine Area 4), where anglers have already caught nearly half of their chinook quota, will stay on a five-day schedule, with a maximum of one chinook as part of the two-salmon daily limit.
Fishing had been confined at Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport (Marine Area 2) to Sundays through Thursdays since the season opened a month ago and at LaPush from Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Slow starts in those areas are allowing officials to offer more fishing without risking an early closure, said Tim Flint, WDFW’s salmon resource manager. The department made a similar change last summer.
Fishing is scheduled to continue until Sept. 30 at Ilwaco and Sept. 18 at Westport and LaPush.
Through July 24, anglers fishing out of Ilwaco had caught just 10 percent of their guideline of 8,200 chinook and 9 percent of their 60,900 coho quota, Flint said. At Westport, they had landed 15 percent of the 28,750 chinook guideline and 6 percent of the 45,066 coho target. In LaPush, they had taken 23 percent of the 1,900 chinook total and 6 percent of the 3,067 coho quota.
At Neah Bay, by comparison, fishers have already caught 44 percent of their 4,300 chinook guideline and 47 percent of the 12,667 coho, Flint said.
The catch rate in Ilwaco has been about 1.2 salmon per angler, but only about half as many people have fished than during the past three years, Flint said. At Westport, where the catch rate is two-thirds of a fish per person, participation is down by about a third. It has dropped by 18 percent at LaPush, where just under half the anglers have caught a fish. Neah Bay has seen a 10 percent spike in anglers, who have averaged 1.1 salmon.
“Ocean salmon fishing has generally been good, and catch rates should continue to improve as the season progresses,” Flint said.
All other fishing rules remain in place. Chinook must be at least 24 inches to retain and hatchery coho must be at least 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed.