Ocean salmon fishery opens July 1

OLYMPIA – Anglers can reel in salmon off the Washington coast beginning July 1, when the ocean sport fishery gets underway daily in all four marine areas.

This year’s sport fishing opportunities are mostly focused on chinook salmon, which are forecast to return at a rate slightly above the 10-year average, said Wendy Beeghley, an ocean salmon manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  Anglers can fish for chinook in all four marine areas.

“We expect a pretty good chinook fishery in the ocean this summer,” Beeghley said. “However, we’ve put restrictions in place in an effort to protect coho, which are forecast to return in low numbers.”

Only Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will be open for coho retention. Fishery managers have attributed the low number of returning coho to poor ocean conditions last year.

This year’s 18,900 coho quota is a significant reduction from the 150,800 fish quota in 2015 and the lowest coho quota since 1998. The recreational chinook catch quota this year is 35,000 fish, down from 64,000 in 2015.

Marine Area 1 is scheduled to close Aug. 31 while marine areas 2 (Westport), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) are scheduled to close Aug. 21. Fisheries may close sooner than scheduled if the quota is met. Throughout the summer, anglers can check WDFW’s webpage athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/ for updates on the ocean fishery.

In Marine Area 1, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 2 can retain one salmon daily. In marine areas 3 and 4, anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers will be required to release all coho salmon in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, but can keep hatchery coho in Marine Area 1.

Additional information on fishing regulations can be found in Washington’s Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/

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Buoy 10 chinook fishery to close today after record catch rates

OLYMPIA – Anglers fishing in the Buoy 10 area near the mouth of the Columbia River will be required to release any chinook salmon they catch after Friday, Aug. 28.

Following a week of record catch rates and angler turnout, state fishery managers from Washington and Oregon today agreed to close the popular fishery several days earlier than anticipated.

Even so, the total catch over four weeks of fishing is expected to reach or exceed 35,000 chinook in the 16-mile stretch of the lower Columbia River.

“This year’s Buoy 10 chinook fishery got off to a fast start and just kept picking up speed,” said Guy Norman, regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We had hoped to keep the chinook fishery open through Labor Day, but the mounting catch reached the harvest guideline sooner than expected.”

The harvest guideline limits impacts on wild fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

However, anglers can still catch and retain hatchery coho and summer steelhead in the Buoy 10 waters, which extend upriver to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line. Both species are marked as hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin.

All three species – including chinook salmon – are also still available for harvest upriver from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to Warrior Rock and beyond, Norman said.

“This fall season will continue to provide good fishing for chinook in the Columbia River upstream to the Hanford Reach,” he said. “If the Buoy 10 fishery is any indication, it should be a great year for salmon fishing.”

Anglers can keep two Chinook off Westport beginning Aug. 18

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Kirk Calkins and friends with a nice mixed bag of kings and silvers from Westport Saturday morning.

OLYMPIA – Starting Monday, Aug. 18, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days per week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Ron Warren, fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the previous daily limit of one chinook off Westport was designed to ensure the fishery would remain open the entire season.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the pace of catch in the area,” Warren said. “With sufficient quota remaining, we want to maximize the recreational fishing opportunity through the rest of the season.”

Ocean salmon fisheries are scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2 and through Sept. 21 in marine areas 3 and 4. However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.

Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery throughout the season and will announce any other changes on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_saltwater.j .

Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum size limits and catch guidelines, is available in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

Tom Weaver with a beautiful Westport king salmon

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Upper section of Yakima River to open for hatchery spring chinook fishing May 17

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OLYMPIA – With the spring chinook fishery in the lower Yakima River just getting under way, a section of the river farther upstream will open to fishing May 17 from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

Spring chinook are now moving into the lower river in increasing numbers, and should provide fishing opportunities in the upper river when that area opens for fishing, said John Easterbrooks, regional fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Easterbrooks noted that 502 adult spring chinook salmon had been counted at Prosser Dam as of May 7 – a large portion of which were wild fish, typically more numerous early in the run. The first chinook crossed Roza Dam 80 miles upriver on May 5.

In all, an estimated 3,350 adult hatchery spring chinook salmon are predicted to return to the Yakima River this year.

“The lion’s share of the catch generally comes from the upper river below Roza Dam, although we did expand fishing opportunity in the lower river this year,” Easterbrooks said.

He noted that this year’s rules add 2.4 miles of fishable water near the mouth of the Yakima River by moving the lower boundary of the fishery downriver from the Interstate 182 bridge to the Highway 240 bridge.

Anglers fishing the Yakima River have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook, identifiable by a clipped adipose fin. All wild salmon and steelhead must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water prior to release.

To participate in the fishery, anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, along with a valid fishing license. Revenues from the CRSSE will be used to fund fishery monitoring and law enforcement. Anglers also have the option of purchasing a “two-pole endorsement” and fishing with two poles.

Endorsement revenues will also be used to fund the third and final year of a hooking mortality study below Roza Dam. With assistance from the Yakama Nation, a WDFW research team plans to radio-tag up to 150 wild spring chinook that have been hooked, played and released.

“Anglers who hook a salmon may be approached by a scientific technician as they play the fish,” Easterbrooks said. “If it’s a wild salmon with an intact adipose fin, the technician will assist in unhooking and releasing the fish after tagging it. The technician will also record the amount of time the fish was played, the hooking location, the condition of the fish and other relevant data.”

The technicians will also be fishing for the study, and will release all fish they catch once the fish have been tagged.

“We would appreciate anglers’ cooperation as we work to refine estimates that play a key role in managing fisheries,” Easterbrooks said. “Accurate estimates of hooking mortality are especially important in fisheries where WDFW must avoid exceeding impact limits on listed salmon stocks prescribed in fishery permits issued by NOAA-Fisheries.”

Easterbrooks also asks for anglers’ cooperation in helping to maintain walk-in access to fishing areas on both sides of the river below Roza Dam. That access includes:

  • Passage across Roza Dam to the popular fishing area downstream from the railroad bridge boundary on the west bank.
  • The trail across private property accessed from the “Roza Cut” parking area at the top of the hill on the Yakima Canyon Hwy (SR 821), which is used by anglers to access fishing sites on the east river bank below the railroad bridge.

WDFW asks that anglers observe some basic rules established by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns Roza Dam:

  • Passage across the dam is limited to walk-in access to the stairway on the west bank of the river and only during the salmon fishery. Rules prohibit crossing the Roza Canal at the west end of the dam and using the railroad bridges over Roza Canal and the Yakima River to access the fishing areas on both banks. Anglers can access both sides of the river by walking under the bridge next to the abutments to access the fishing areas downstream.
  • Anglers are asked to park in the designated areas on the right side of the Roza Dam Access Road, not on private property on the left side of the road.
  • Trash dumpsters have been placed in parking areas at the Roza Cut and Roza Dam Access Road, and next to the Roza adult fish trapping facility. Anglers are asked to carry a trash bag and deposit their trash – along with any they find along the trail – in the dumpsters.
  • Anglers are also asked to use the three portable toilets provided at the Roza Cut and access road parking areas and on the dam near the west bank stairway.

“Public access across Roza Dam and adjacent private property is a privilege, not a right,” Easterbrooks said. “We’re asking anglers to do everything they can to make sure these two critical access points remain open for their use. Any damage or misuse of federal or private property could result in termination of the privilege for everyone during this year’s fishery and could reduce access to this important salmon fishing area in future years.”

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Wishkah River

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Location:
Flows into the east end of Grays Harbor at Aberdeen.

Directions:
Take U.S.12 to Aberdeen and turn right on Wishkah Road which parallels the river.

Facilities:
Aberdeen has all you amenitites.

Contact:
Big Mouth John’s Tackle

Species:
Winter Steelhead, Coho and Chinook Salmon, Resident and Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout, and Seaperch

Fishing the Wishkah:
Though only one valley away from the Hoquiam, the Wishkah is a much better salmon and steelhead river, thanks to its better fish habitat and access to the water. Though your chances of hooking a keeper chinook aren’t all that great, work your way up Wishkah Road to the mouth of the West Fork Wishkah during October and November and you just might locate a Coho or two.
The winter steelheading is up and down from year to year, but some season the Wishkah will give up 150-200 fish. The best part of fishing the river is that the steelhead fishing remains pretty consistent from December until the end of the season in March.
Sea-Run Cutthroat is fair in the river in the month of October. Like the nearby Hoquiam, the regulations call for the release of all wild non-clipped Cutthroats.

Grays River

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Location:
Enters the Lower Columbia River west of Skamokawa.

Directions:
Take Highway 4 west from Cathlamet or east from Naselle. To reach much of the middle portion of the river, take Loop Road south off the highway (midway between the town of Grays River, and the highway bridge over the river), or turn south on Highway 403 near Rosburg to reach the lower river.

Facilities:
Illwaco, the nearest town of any size, is about 20 miles to the southeast and offers all your amenities. About 30 miles to the west is Fort Canby State Park, which has tent and RV sites, restrooms with showers, and a small store.

Contact:

Species:
Winter Steelhead, Sea-Run Cutthroat, Resident Cutthroat, Chinook, and Coho Salmon.

Fishing the Grays River:
Once a pretty well respected winter steelhead stream, the Gray’s has slipped a few notches over the years. Although stocked with 40,000 to 50,000 steelhead smolts a year, the steelhead catch bumps up and down every year from 150-400 fish a winter. That’s probably a ray of hope for the visiting angler. When the few steelhead that return from their ocean adventures usually occurs in the months of December and January. Fall salmon fishing is a whole lot worse and is only open in certain areas. There can be some excellent cutthroat fishing in the months of October and November. I would stick with fishing a nightcrawler behind a slip sinker with a minimum of a 48″ leader.

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Spring chinook must be released on Lewis River; portion of North Fork Lewis will close to all fishing

Action: Lewis River anglers must release all spring chinook; North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream to close to all fishing.

Species affected: Chinook salmon

Effective date and locations: Feb. 17, 2014

Until further notice, all chinook must be released on main-stem Lewis River from mouth to mouth of East Fork.

Until further notice, all chinook must be released on the North Fork Lewis River from mouth of the East Fork to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam.

Through May 31, 2014, fishing is closed to all angling on the North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek (located downstream from the Lewis River Salmon Hatchery) upstream to Merwin Dam.

Reason for action: The pre-season forecast is for a return of 1,100 adult spring chinook to the Lewis in 2014. The closure is necessary to provide enough fish to meet the hatchery escapement goal of approximately 1,350 fish.

Other information: Lewis spring chinook returns will be closely monitored in-season.

The main-stem Lewis River and North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek downstream remain open to fishing for hatchery steelhead. The North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream will reopen to fishing for hatchery steelhead June 1.

Johns River 2013 September 16-21