Big weekend for pinks and crabs predicted on Whidbey

This is a pink salmon caught Friday morning by fisherman Lynette Reeff. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
This is a pink salmon caught Friday morning by fisherman Lynette Reeff.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

Labor Day weekend promises to be exciting for Whidbey Island anglers as pink salmon continue to jump onto lures and the last three days of summer crabbing season take place.

Crabbing usually runs only Wednesday through Saturday, but it’s open the entire Labor Day weekend: Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The state Department of Wildlife describes this year pink, or “humpy,” salmon run as “abundant,” and that is no understatement. Islanders have been hauling them in from shore and in boats for several weeks now, and the sight of long lines of anglers standing shoulder-to-shoulder is common on the west side of Whidbey from Possession Point to the Deception Pass Bridge.

While the pink run is bound to end before long, coho are right behind them.

“Some ocean coho have already been caught in central Puget Sound, so we should see more of those ocean fish in the next couple of weeks,” said Steve Thiesfeld, a WDFW fish biologist.

When they do arrive, Point No Point, Jefferson Head and Possession Bar should be good spots to hook ocean coho, said Thiesfeld.

Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) are also open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two marine areas have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. All chinook salmon must released.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but can only keep one chinook. Anglers in Marine Area 7 must release wild coho and chum.

Meanwhile, there’s still time to catch crab. The crab fishery runs through Sept. 7 in marine areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, and 10. However, the fishery will remain open through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 7. Crabbing is open the entire Labor Day weekend.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 and 1/4 inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Sept. 21 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2009 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2010 fishing license.

This is the third year that summer crab catch reports are required after Labor Day, with fall/winter reports due between Jan. 2-15. The two-stage reporting system is designed to give fishery managers more accurate information about the recreational crab catch during the course of the season.

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