Three proposals for ocean salmon fisheries are ready for public review in advance of a season that is expected to see poor returns of coho, salmon managers announced Monday.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which establishes ocean seasons for 200 to 300 miles off the West Coast, approved the alternatives for presentation at a March 27 public hearing in Westport.
“With these options in hand, we’ll work with anglers to establish fisheries for 2017 that meet our conservation objectives for wild salmon,” said Kyle Adicks, state Department of Fish and Wildlife policy director. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead, but we anticipate ocean salmon quotas similar to, or perhaps slightly better than, last year’s.”
Returns are expected to be low because of warm ocean water and flooded rivers have impact salmon spawning success and survival, Adicks said.
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The Columbia River forecast is 386,000 returning coho. This is similar to last year’s forecast, which proved to be 163,000 coho short of reality. In the lower river, 250,000 hatchery chinook (124,000 more than returned last year) are expected to return.
The alternatives for the Washington coast:
Alternative 1: 54,500 chinook and 58,800 coho. This option includes early fisheries; June 17-30 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport) for hatchery chinook. This option also allows coho retention in all four marine areas during the traditional summery fishery.
Alternative 2: 45,000 chinook and 50,400 coho. There would be no early season fisheries and chinook and coho fishing would begin June 24.
Alternative 3: 40,000 chinook and 18,900 coho. Chinook fisheries would start in early July in all marine areas but Coho retention would be allowed only in Marine Area 1. (Leadbetter Point at Long Beach south to the Columbia.) This option is similar to last summer, when anglers were allowed to keep coho near the mouth of the Columbia.
Last year’s quotas were 35,000 chinook and 18,900 coho.
Salmon managers will finalize the fisheries at an April meeting in Sacramento. Visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon for a listing of local meetings.
South Sound: The Point Defiance Boathouse Marina staff has seen anglers land fish as large as 16.5 pounds over the past week. State creel reports show that 27 anglers departing from Point Defiance landed eight chinook and two coho over the weekend.
North Sound: The weekend saw 100 anglers leaving from the Everett public ramp combine to catch 16 chinook.
Razor clams: Digging ended Monday and the next opening is planned for March 24. Pending the results of marine toxin tests, Mocrocks will be open March 24 and 26 and Copalis will open March 25.
Calawah: Over the weekend, 5 bank anglers and 18 boat anglers combined to catch and release 13 wild and two hatchery steelhead, according to state creel reports.
Columbia: Despite high flows, debris and other difficult conditions, more anglers are fishing the lower river. Last week, the state sampled 354 salmonid anglers. They caught five adult chinook and three steelhead. Boat anglers are averaging more than one walleye per rod in The Dalles and John Day pools. These locations are also producing some legal-size sturgeon.
Cowlitz: Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 19 winter-run steelhead adults from the river.
Hoh: No anglers on the lower river, but the upper section saw 19 anglers catch and release four wild steelhead over the weekend.
Lewis: Most steelhead anglers are fishing from the bank. State reports show that 36 bank anglers caught and released two steelhead and one chinook last week.
Kalama: Boat anglers are doing better than bank anglers according to state reports. Last week, 60 boat anglers combined to catch six fish while 10 boat anglers combined for eight.
Sol Duc: Over the weekend, 113 anglers combined to catch and released 60 wild steelhead.
Alice: This King County lake near Snoqualmie Ridge was stocked last week more than 1,000 rainbows.
American: Last week, the lake was stocked with 4,911 rainbow trout from the Lakewood hatchery.