ABERDEEN – Attention anglers: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) on Thursday began planting adult hatchery coho salmon into the Vance Creek Ponds, located one-half mile from the town of Elma in Grays Harbor County.
"These coho are larger than in past years," said Rick Ereth, WDFW fisheries biologist in Montesano. "They are averaging 10 to 12 pounds, with several fish exceeding 15 pounds each. They're quite a thrill to catch."
Vance Creek Pond No. 1, also known as one of the Elma ponds, was planted with several hundred of the 2,000 coho expected to be transported in the next few weeks from the Humptulips Hatchery, which will have enough returning coho to meet its production needs. Fishing at the pond is restricted to young people under 15 years old, seniors 70 years and older and holders of disability licenses.
Vance Creek Pond No. 2, which is open to the general public with no age restriction, will be planted with approximately 500 hatchery coho beginning next week, and could receive additional plants if more fish become available.
Landlocked salmon rules apply to both areas during a fishing season that will last through Nov. 30. The limit is five coho per day and no salmon catch record card is required. Anglers should consult the 2001/2002 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for license requirements and other fishing rules.
While the salmon destined for both ponds are in good condition, Ereth cautioned people with dogs to make sure their pets don't eat dead salmon around the ponds in the weeks ahead.
"Salmon are known to carry a parasite that has no effect on humans, but can be lethal to dogs that ingest uncooked salmon," Ereth said. "Salmon carcasses are beneficial to the ecology of the ponds, but they're definitely not good news for dogs."
Ereth noted that WDFW has released hatchery coho into the Vance Creek Ponds for the past two years, adding that the program has proven successful in providing additional recreational fishing opportunity for anglers of all ages.
More information on the fishery is available on the WDFW Hotline at (360) 249-4628 (select the Vance Creek Ponds option).