Those planning a salmon fishing trip to central Puget Sound should go sooner than later as a closure possibly looms on the horizon.
Central Sound known as Marine Catch Area 10 – which covers an area from the Apple Tree-Kingston boundary line to Point Wells-northern Vashon Island tip – will likely remain open daily through this coming weekend, but any additional fishing days beyond that remain cloudy. The salmon fishery was supposed to be open daily through Feb. 28.
Through Jan. 8, the total chinook encounters by sport anglers (fish caught or released) was 78 percent, which was down from the last estimate of 84 percent. State fisheries officials say this is due to an improved legal-to-sub legal ration from the test fishing boats in the area.
The ceiling catch is expected to be achieved by Jan. 23 based on the average encounter of 200 chinook per week.
Chinook weekly encounters since the season began on Nov. 1 look like this from Nov. 1-6, 327 boats with 617 anglers and 509 chinook encounters; Nov. 7-3, 62 with 95 and 291; Nov. 14-20, 68 with 115 and 79; Nov. 21-27, 68 with 145 and 28; Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 90 with 136 and 329; Dec. 5-11, 67 with 88 and 303; Dec. 12-19, 38 with 84 and none; Dec. 19-25, 46 with 100 and 351; and Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 98 with 174 and 290. The data for Jan. 2-8 period wasn’t available.
The season total through Jn. 1 is 864 boats with 1,554 anglers and 2,180 chinook encounters. The average retained hatchery chinook per trip is 0.1055. The overall hatchery mark rate is 70.7 percent and the legal-size mark rate (for chinook over the 22-inch minimum size limit) is 71.4 percent.
The northern Puget Sound salmon fishery – original opening date was Jan. 16 – has been delayed until sometime on late-February or early March allowing state fishery officials time to determine a specific date and provide additional fishing time in early spring.
State Fish and Wildlife indicates if the sport fishery – which targets hatchery chinook – that covers an area from Port Townsend south to the Edmonds-Apple Tree Cove boundary line could result in an early closure due to achieving the threshold of total chinook encounters prior to the April 15 closure date.
The Edmonds Public Fishing Pier will remain open to salmon fishing, and specific rules can be found in the regulation pamphlet.
Other hatchery chinook fishing options that are expected to remain open for now include the San Juan Islands open daily through April 30; eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca open daily through April 15; east side of Whidbey Island open daily through April 30; south-central Puget Sound are open daily through April 30; Hood Canal is open daily through April 30; and southern Puget Sound is open daily through June 30.