The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) had scheduled an opening for hatchery chinook salmon to begin Sunday, Nov. 1, but has postponed that season to protect a large number of juvenile chinook in those waters.
“We’re seeing more young chinook out there than we’ve seen in over a decade,” said Ron Warren, WDFW fisheries policy lead. “They’re too small to retain under state rules, so we’re postponing the chinook fishery.”
Before the salmon fishing season started, WDFW and tribal co-managers agreed to a limited number (4,729) of chinook encounters – retaining or releasing fish – anglers are allowed for Admiralty Inlet. Test fishery data indicates that anglers would quickly meet or exceed the guideline for encounters because of the abundant number of juvenile chinook, Warren said.
A similar situation occurred earlier this month in nearby Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), where anglers rapidly met the chinook encounter guideline, prompting the department to close the chinook fishery early.
“Although these young chinook are causing some inconvenience for anglers now, the volume of them suggests we could see a strong run when they return in a few years,” Warren said.
The department will continue monitoring Marine Area 9 and could open the area for a brief hatchery chinook fishery around Thanksgiving, Warren said. Admiralty Inlet is scheduled to close to salmon fishing Nov. 30 and then will be open Jan. 16 through April 15.
“The action we’re taking today should allow us to keep the winter chinook fishery going longer when the area reopens in January,” Warren said.
Beginning Nov. 1, anglers will have a daily limit of two chum salmon in Marine Area 9. Warren emphasized that the area is not open for catch and release fishing for other salmon species. The department would be forced to close Admiralty Inlet to all salmon fishing if anglers don’t follow the rules, he said.
Anglers should check the fishing rule change at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ for more details.
More information about fishing for chum salmon can be found on WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/chum/pugetsound/fishery.html.