OLYMPIA - The 2004 recreational summer salmon fisheries in Puget Sound and in rivers that empty into the sound get under way June 16.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has received final approval of its 2004 Puget Sound salmon fisheries management plan from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.
The plan, developed in concert with the western Washington treaty Indian tribes, was tentatively approved last spring as part of the salmon-season setting process which covers the 2004-05 fishing season.
Salmon-fishing opportunities beginning June 16 include:
- A catch-and-release fishery in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton area) north of a line from Point Monroe to Meadow Point;
- Catch-and-keep fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island) and 13 (south Puget Sound). There is a daily limit of two salmon, and chinook must be 22 inches or longer to retain; and
- A selective fishery for hatchery chinook salmon in the Skykomish River from the Lewis Street Bridge in Monroe upstream to the confluence with the Wallace River. The daily limit is two hatchery chinook 12 inches or longer. Hatchery salmon are identified by the missing adipose fin and a healed scar.
A complete list of this year's sport fishing opportunities can be found in WDFW's "Fishing in Washington" pamphlet, available at hundreds of retail outlets and online on the Internet.
State fisheries officials this year are once again emphasizing angler compliance with selective fishing techniques, said Pat Pattillo, WDFW salmon policy coordinator. Saturday, June 19 is "statewide release awareness day." While not all fisheries require anglers to release their catch, WDFW has been attempting to educate anglers on the importance of using proper release methods.
New rules are in place this year to minimize salmon mortality as a result of improper handling.
In freshwater areas, it is unlawful to totally remove salmon or steelhead from the water if those fish can't be retained. In marine areas 5-13, it is unlawful to bring any salmon aboard a vessel if regulations require release at specific times and areas.
"These new rules will go a long way toward minimizing salmon mortality that results from improper handling," Pattillo said. "We've been able to expand our sport salmon fishing opportunities in Washington using selective fishing, and additional opportunities depend on angler compliance with salmon-handling rules and proper release techniques."
Other tips for safely releasing a fish include:
- Don't use a net. Instead, keep the fish in the water and use a dehooker to remove the hook.
- If the hook is deeply imbedded or has been swallowed, cut the leader. Don't tug on a leader to rip the hook out of a salmon's mouth or jaw.
- Keep fingers away from the fish's eyes and gills.