Salmon fishers in the San Juan Islands and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca will be able to take advantage of an anticipated strong return of Puget Sound-area hatchery coho salmon in a selective fishery beginning Aug. 1.
The fishery in Marine Areas 6 and 7 is designed to provide fishers with opportunity to catch hatchery coho returning to western Washington hatcheries, while at the same time protecting weak, wild, south Puget Sound and British Columbia stocks, said Jeff Koenings, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
"We are committed to protecting and rebuilding weak coho stocks and to providing fishing opportunity on strong hatchery fish runs," Koenings said. "But the only way to ensure these fisheries will occur in years to come is through fisher compliance with the rules regarding wild coho protection."
Beginning Aug. 1, fishers can keep up to two hatchery coho in Marine Areas 6 and 7, while all wild coho must be released unharmed. Hatchery fish can easily be identified by the lack of an adipose fin, the small, fleshy fin on the back near the tail. Hatchery fish have had the adipose fin removed to distinguish them from their wild counterparts.
This year's Puget Sound selective fishing rules were adopted in April as part of the North of Falcon salmon fishing season-setting process, which included participation by WDFW, tribal co-managers, federal fisheries officials and citizen groups.
Koenings said WDFW enforcement officers are planning additional on-water emphasis patrols in the San Juans and eastern Strait to ensure all selective fishery regulations will be followed.
Both Areas 6 and 7 have special area closures and anglers should check the fishing pamphlet prior to going fishing.