WA, OR Summer Salt, Columbia Salmon Seasons Set

Press releases just out from WDFW and the Pacific Fishery Management Council detail this summer’s salmon seasons on the Washington and Oregon saltwater and Columbia River.

First, WDFW’s:

Puget Sound

Anglers will have an opportunity to take advantage of an abundant return of pink salmon this year. Nearly 6 million pink salmon are expected to return to Puget Sound, where “bonus” bag limits for pink salmon will be established in marine areas 5 through 11.The majority of pink salmon – the smallest of the Pacific salmon species – return to Washington’s waters in odd-numbered years.

Most chinook and coho fisheries will be similar to last year’s seasons. However, the sport fishery for chinook in inner Elliott Bay will be closed to protect Green River naturally spawning chinook, which are expected to return in low numbers this year. Also, salmon fisheries on the Skokomish River have not yet been settled and state and tribal co-managers plan to continue negotiations over the next several weeks.

Washington’s ocean waters

Despite an expected increase in chinook abundance, the PFMC today adopted a chinook catch quota of 33,700 for the recreational ocean fishery, 27,300 less than last year’s quota. The lower chinook quota is necessary to further protect wild salmon stocks and meet conservation goals, said Anderson, who represents WDFW on the management council.

“The chinook quota is down from last year, but the number of fish available for this summer’s ocean fishery should still provide good fishing opportunities for anglers,” Anderson said.

The PFMC also adopted a quota of 67,200 coho for this year’s recreational ocean fishery, the same number as last year’s quota.

This year’s ocean fishery will begin June 18 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all ocean areas. The fishery will run seven days a week, with a daily limit of two salmon, through June 25 or until 4,800 hatchery chinook are retained.

Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will continue June 26 in marine areas 1, 2, 3 and 4. Anglers fishing those marine areas will be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also are allowed one additional pink salmon each day in marine areas 3 and 4.

WESTPORT'S CHINOOK QUOTA IS DOWN FROM LAST YEAR, WHEN GARY LUNDQUIST CAUGHT THIS BEAUT, THOUGH KING ABUNDANCE IS EXPECTED TO BE UP. (WRIGHT & MCGILL/EAGLE CLAW PHOTO CONTEST)

Columbia River

The Buoy 10 fishery will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1-28.  Anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit, only one of which may be a chinook. From Aug. 29 through Dec. 31, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery coho, but must release chinook.

The mainstem Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam will be open for chinook and hatchery coho Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult chinook as part of their two-fish daily bag limit through Sept. 9. Beginning Sept. 10, chinook retention will only be allowed upstream of the Lewis River, but up to two adult chinook may be retained.

Specific fishing seasons and regulations for marine areas in Washington and a portion of the Columbia River will be available next week on WDFW’s North of Falcon website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

Here’s the nitty-gritty from the PFMC release:

Oregon South of Cape Falcon

Greatly improved abundance of Sacramento River fall Chinook will fuel the first substantial ocean salmon fisheries off California and Oregon since 2007. Fisheries south of Cape Falcon are supported by Sacramento River fall Chinook. In 2008 and 2009, poor Sacramento returns led to the largest ocean salmon fishery closure on record.  The abundance forecast of Sacramento River fall Chinook in 2011 is 730,000, far above the number needed for optimum spawning this fall (122,000‐180,000 fish).

The Klamath River fall Chinook forecast for 2011 is near normal. The Oregon Coast natural coho forecast in 2011 is about 250,000, well above the 15 year average.

Recreational fisheries in southern Oregon and California are for Chinook only and run from May 14 through Labor Day weekend in the Brookings/Eureka/Crescent City area, and from April 2 to October 30 or September 18 in areas further south.  The minimum size limit will be 24 inches for Chinook coastwide.

Central Oregon

Recreational fisheries in central Oregon will allow Chinook retention and run from March 15 through September 30.  Coho fisheries consist of a mark‐selective coho quota fishery that will open in early July and a non‐mark selective coho quota fishery in early September.

Northern Oregon (North of Cape Falcon)

Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (near Nehalem in northern Oregon) depend largely on Columbia River stocks. Columbia River fall Chinook returns in 2010 were above average, and 2011 forecasts are similar.

North of Cape Falcon, there is an overall non‐Indian total allowable catch of 64,600 Chinook and 80,000 marked hatchery coho.

A mark‐selective Chinook season north of Cape Falcon begins June 18 and ends June 25 or when 4,800 marked Chinook are caught.  The Chinook season will be open seven days per week, two fish per day, with a 24‐inch total length minimum size limit.

All salmon seasons are divided into four sub‐areas. Seasons begin June 26 and end in mid‐ to late‐September.  For details, please see the season descriptions on the Council website at http://www.pcouncil.org.

Here’s the top half of WDFW’s press release, about how things came together over the past month and a half of wrangling:

State and tribal co-managers today agreed on a package of salmon fisheries that meets conservation goals for wild salmon populations, while providing a variety of fishing opportunities on abundant stocks.

Washington’s 2011 salmon fishing seasons, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty Indian co-managers, were finalized today during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) meeting in San Mateo, Calif. The fishing package defines regulations for salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Washington’s ocean and coastal areas and the Columbia River.

“Salmon fisheries developed for this year meet conservation objectives for wild salmon while providing meaningful fishing opportunities throughout Washington’s waters,” said Phil Anderson, director of WDFW. “Developing these fisheries wouldn’t be possible without strong cooperation between the state, the tribes and our constituents.”

While state and tribal fishers will have a variety of salmon-fishing opportunities this year, many fisheries will be constrained to protect wild salmon listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Conservative fisheries must go hand-in-hand with habitat restoration and protection so that we can continue toward our goal of salmon recovery,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries manager for the Swinomish Tribe. “State and tribal cooperation is the key to addressing one of the most pressing needs of salmon – more high quality spawning and rearing habitat.”

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