BRINNON - For the third straight year, recreational shrimpers appear to have caught their allocation of Hood Canal spot shrimp in just four days of fishing.
Dave Sterritt, shellfish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said he counted nearly a thousand boats on the Canal today, enough to pull in the remaining 14,000 pounds of the state's annual 75,000-pound allocation.
"Today's effort should bring us up to within 1,000 pounds of the state's allocation, plus or minus," Sterritt said. "That doesn't leave enough shrimp to open fishing on the Canal for an hour, let alone another day."
Sterritt, who will use today's creel data to verify his initial assessment, said non-tribal shrimp fishers should assume the Hood Canal fishery is over for another year.
Catch rates were good throughout this year's season, said Sterritt, who estimated that three-quarters of all fishers took home daily limits of 80 spot shrimp per person.
"I talked to a lot of people who were limiting out after pulling their gear just one or two times," Sterritt said. "That's an indication that Hood Canal shrimp stocks are still in good shape."
Commercial fishing for shrimp has been banned in Hood Canal since 1992. However, the number of people participating in the recreational fishery has increased at a rate of 10 percent to 15 percent each year since 2000, when the recreational fishery was open for six days.
The result, Sterritt said, is that WDFW has had to reduce the number of days open to shrimp fishing to stay within the state's annual allocation.
"Four-day seasons seem to be the norm for Hood Canal shrimp right now," Sterritt said. "Who knows what it will be in future years if the pressure keeps building?"