Summer fishing seasons are in full swing, requiring anglers to make some tough decisions about how to spend their time on the water in the days ahead. Salmon, steelhead, trout, crab, sturgeon, bass and walleye — all are now available for harvest. But for thousands of anglers, nothing beats the thrill of reeling in a big chinook salmon. Many are doing just that as waves of chinook move south toward the Washington coast, then east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, coastal streams and the Columbia River. "This season is off to a good start and it should only get better," said John Long, statewide salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Right now," Long said, "anglers are catching chinook salmon from the Washington coast and Puget Sound to the upper Columbia River, with additional fisheries opening in the next few weeks."
South Sound/Olympic Peninsula report Fishing Anglers' chances of catching and keeping a chinook salmon off the Washington coast have improved in recent days with the start of nonselective fisheries for chinook in all ocean areas. Chinook can now be retained coastwide, whether fin-clipped or not. Now, another change in state fishing rules will allow anglers to keep two of those fish per day. Starting July 8, they were able to retain two chinook — instead of just one — as part of their two-salmon daily limit. As in previous years, only coho with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained as part of that limit. Anglers may retain coho in all ocean areas, although this year's recreational quota for coho is 67,200 fish, down from 176,400 last year. Patrick Pattillo, state salmon policy coordinator, said the state initially took a cautious approach in setting the limits for the coastal chinook fishery this summer. "With predictions of chinook stocks nearly three times as large as last year, we were concerned that we could see very high catch rates for chinook — as we did in 2002 — resulting in an early closure," said Pattillo. "But from what we've seen so far, we no longer have that concern." Even so, the fishery has been productive – especially around Westport. During the marked selective chinook fishery in June, anglers caught approximately 4,571 chinook off the coast between the opening and June 27. The vast majority of those fish were taken in Marine Area 2 off Westport where nearly 7,000 anglers landed 4,263 marked chinook. The mark rate there was 73 percent. On July 4, when nonselective rules took effect, fish counters sampled 245 anglers in Westport with 129 chinook and 82 coho. In Ilwaco, the 603 anglers sampled had caught 733 coho and 83 chinook. "The effort hasn't been real high, yet but it will build this summer," said Doug Milward, state ocean fisheries manager. "It always does, especially around Ilwaco." Meanwhile, salmon fisheries opened July 1 in marine areas 5 and 6 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where early reports indicate fishing for hatchery chinook will be similar to last year's successful fishery. The waters around Port Angles provided the best salmon fishing for the opener. Between July 1-4, creel counts showed that about 400 anglers reeled in approximately 160 chinook salmon at Ediz Hook. Olson's Resort and Van Riper's Resort in Sekiu both provided reasonably good salmon fishing, with anglers throughout both marine areas also landing a few rockfish, lingcod and greenlings. Elsewhere in Puget Sound, fishing effort has been generally light. In Marine Area 11 off Tacoma and Vashon Island, creel counts the week of June 28-July 4 produced 61 chinook. Most of those fish were caught off Point Defiance and near Gig Harbor. On July 3, 165 anglers were surveyed with five chinook and 88 flatfish. So far, very few coho have shown themselves in Puget Sound. Marine Area 9, west of Whidbey Island, opened to salmon fishing July 16. The rules for catching chinook and coho vary depending on the marine area. All of the seasons and rules can be found in the 2010 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet. The pamphlet is free at the more than 600 stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. It's available at state offices and at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regs_seasons.html.
Crabbing If crab is your seafood of choice, you're in luck. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are open in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and most areas of Puget Sound. Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:
Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (Tacoma-Vashon) — Opened June 18 and runs through Jan. 2, seven days a week.
Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (much of Puget Sound) — Opened July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6 and the entire Labor Day weekend.
Marine areas 7 South and East (south and east of the San Juan Islands) — Opened July 14 through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.
There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6.25 inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed. The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is 5 inches and either sex may be kept. Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-2011 edition of Washington's Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet, which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas.