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Salmon angling gets chummy in Sound
North Puget Sound’s salmon fisheries continue to be slow for freshwater and saltwater anglers. But the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife predicts the bite could pick up as the chum run makes its way into Puget Sound and the region’s blackmouth season gets into full swing.
“It’s been a tough year for anglers fishing for chinook and coho in the region,” said Steve Thiesfeld, a WDFW fish biologist. “Salmon fishing, however, could improve in the next few weeks as chum move into northern and central Sound and opportunities to hook blackmouth increase.”
Anglers fishing for blackmouth in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), can keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Blackmouth - resident chinook - fishing opportunities expand Oct. 16, when anglers in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) also will be allowed to keep one chinook as part of that area’s daily limit of two salmon.
Those fishing for chum salmon may want to get out on the water sooner than later, said Thiesfeld. “In the past, the chum return usually peaks in late October and early November,” Thiesfeld said. “But this year, anglers are already catching some chum salmon.”
The area around Point No Point (north end of the Kitsap Peninsula) and Possession Bar (southern portion of Whidbey Island) is often a hot spot for chum salmon, Thiesfeld said. Anglers fishing that area, or other waters of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook.
Thiesfeld reminds anglers that portions of marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) are open for salmon fishing. Salmon fishing in Marine Area 8-1 is restricted to Oak Harbor, west of a line from Forbes Point to Blowers Bluff. Anglers fishing Oak Harbor have a daily limit of two coho only.
In Marine Area 8-2, salmon fishing is limited to the south end of the area, south of a line from Randall Point to the south end of the Everett Naval Station dock. Anglers in that area have a two salmon daily limit, but must release chinook.
In the freshwater, there have been reports of anglers catching some chum - as well as a few coho - in the Skykomish and Snohomish rivers. But, overall, salmon fishing in the region’s rivers continues to be slow.
Before heading out to the rivers, or out on the Sound, anglers should check the rules and regulations for fisheries in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm).
Lora Leschner, regional wildlife program manager, said waterfowl hunting at the Skagit Wildlife Area was good during the general season opener. Hunters averaged just over two ducks per person, with bags that included mallards, teals, pintails and wigeons. “Several hunters harvested some white-fronted geese that have been in the area in unusually large numbers this year, and several snow geese were checked,” Leschner said. “The most successful hunters were in boats on Skagit Bay.”
At the Whatcom Wildlife Area, hunters had “moderate” success during the opener, likely due to fairly calm conditions, she said.
Duck season closed, Oct. 15, but opens again Oct. 18 and runs through Jan. 25. Goose hunts continue through Oct. 23 in the region, and then start again Nov. 1. However, snow, Ross and blue geese seasons in Goose Management Area 1 (Skagit and Snohomish counties) run from Oct. 11 through Jan. 25 without a break.
Meanwhile, the general modern firearm hunting season for deer continues through Oct. 31, while the general season for elk gets started Nov. 1.