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Whidbey anglers pursue chinook in area 9
Other local salmon seasons open Aug. 1
Several summer fisheries are open around Whidbey Island, including crab and sockeye, but the biggest draw to the region is the popular mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon in the marine areas of central Puget Sound.
Selective fisheries in marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) started much slower than last year, said Steve Thiesfeld, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist.
“Catch rates are definitely down in both areas this year,” he said. “But anglers are still finding bright fish in some areas.”
Anglers fishing the northern end of Admiralty Inlet in the the Port Townsend area have had the best results, said Thiesfeld. During the first opening weekend of the fishery July 19-20, anglers in Marine Area 9 averaged about one legal chinook for every six rods, while those fishing Area 10 averaged one keeper for every 20 rods.
Anglers in Areas 9 and 10 are allowed to keep hatchery chinook marked with a clipped adipose fin as part of a two salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing Area 9 also must release wild coho and chum salmon. Beginning Aug. 1, anglers fishing in Marine Area 10 must release chum.
The chinook selective fisheries in those two marine areas are open through Aug. 15, or until the quota is reached. “At the current catch rate, it looks like the selective fisheries will continue into August,” Thiesfeld said. “But this is a quota fishery, so I’ve been encouraging anglers to get out on the water while they still have the opportunity.”
When releasing salmon, anglers should keep the fish in the water and avoid using a net, Thiesfeld said. If a net is needed, use a rubber net or a soft knotless nylon or cotton net.
Thiesfeld also suggests that anglers:
• Look for the adipose fin while playing the fish, and use polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.
• Avoid the use of light tackle and play the fish quickly to reduce exhausting the fish.
• Modify tackle to reduce potential injury to the fish. For example, use circle hooks when mooching and only one hook on hoochies and bucktails.
• Use a dehooker to remove the hook.
• Cut the leader if the fish has swallowed the hook.
• Avoid touching or handling the fish, especially around the eyes and gills.
• Support the entire length of the fish if it must be lifted out of the water. Do not lift the fish by the tail or jaw.
• Gently place the fish back in the water.
Anglers can find information on selective fishing and selective fishing techniques, as well as streaming video on how to properly release salmon, on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/selective/techniques/.
Elsewhere, Marine Area 7, San Juan Islands, is open for salmon. Anglers can keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Beginning Aug. 1, anglers in Marine Area 7 must release wild coho and chum salmon.
Farther south, salmon fisheries in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) get under way Aug. 1. Once those fisheries open, anglers in the two marine areas must release all chinook.
Before heading out on the water, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all saltwater and freshwater fisheries in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm ).