Perhaps it has been a case of too much of a good thing. But beginning Monday, anglers must release any chinook salmon they catch in ocean waters off the coast.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife made the rule change because anglers’ total catch of chinook salmon this summer is nearing the overall harvest quota for chinook in Washington’s ocean waters. That requires the change for marine areas 1-4, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the department.
The requirement to release chinook salmon in those waters does not affect fishing for hatchery coho or other salmon species.
“Catch rates in the ocean for chinook salmon have been strong throughout much of the season, but we still have substantial numbers of coho remaining under the quota,” Pattillo said in a news release. “This change allows anglers to continue catching coho, while ensuring catch limits for chinook will not be exceeded.”
As of Aug. 21, coastwide catch totals for the recreational salmon fishery had reached 90 percent of the overall chinook guideline of 30,100 fish, said Pattillo.
Mark Cedergreen, president of the Westport Charterboat Association, said this is one of the best seasons, with a large number of chinook weighing up to 50 pounds.
Marine areas 1, 3 and 4 are open to recreational daily. Marine Area 2 was open through Thursday, then shut down Friday and Saturday. Marine Area 2 reopens to salmon fishing seven days a week beginning Sunday.
Barring any further actions, ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.
Fishery managers will continue to monitor the ocean salmon fishery, and announce any other changes, Pattillo said.
Additional information on the ocean fishery, including minimum-size limits, is available in he department’s “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet, available here.