By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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The state Department of Fish and Wildlife met with federal officials Wednesday and finalized plans to open the coho season to both wild and hatchery stock.
Starting Monday, anglers in Marine Area 3 (LaPush), 4 (Neah Bay) and 2 (Westport) may keep either wild or hatchery coho as part of their two salmon daily limit.
After speaking with Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Wendy Beeghley, I learned some more information on quota totals.
It also looks like the state is going to combine the LaPush and Neah Bay quotas and put a cap at 4,700 available coho.
This would run through the end of the summer season Sept. 21 or earlier if anglers reach those quota numbers.
“We're going to look at that as a way to keep the season open for as long as possible in each marine area,” Beeghley said.
“Anglers in those areas should have about 4,700 fish to play with starting on Sept. 1.”
Another factor in potentially combining the coho quota is catch numbers have improved off LaPush in recent weeks.
“There's been a couple weeks of good effort and catch totals have averaged around a fish per person,” Beeghley said.
“In the LaPush area, particularly, we've seen anglers releasing lots of wild coho.”
These improved catches have upped the LaPush catch to 62.8 percent of the original 4,750 fish quota, and Beeghley said catch projections for this week would have seen that percentage climb even higher.
Thus, the likely combining of the LaPush and Neah Bay quota.
This would cut into the Neah Bay numbers but that's alright with Joey Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay.
“It's pretty cool that the state would like to utilize all that fish and not leave them in the ocean,” Lawrence said.
“Every fish brings a lot of value to anglers and those in the business, and I think we will stand a better chance of fishing later and I think it will create some September business.
“It's a good way to wrap up the season.”
The ability to market the opportunity to catch and keep a wild salmon should stir some interest.
As for the fish themselves, Lawrence said they are starting to see more and more each day.
“There's a lot of silvers from Waadah Island all the way to the ocean,” Lawrence said.
“They are starting to school up.”
A tuna tournament will cast off from the LaPush marina, 71 Main St., at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Weigh-in and prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the tournament at Riverview RV Park, 33 Mora Road, at 6 p.m.
A barbecue will be served for contestants following weigh-in and awards.
There is a $200 entry fee per boat.
Participants must register by 6 p.m. today.
For more information, phone Gary Grahn at Olympic Anglers, 360-640-4820.
If you can't get out into the Pacific Ocean, the western edge of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is your best bet to land a salmon.
Fishing was solid at Van Riper's Resort in Sekiu last Sunday with 110 anglers in 40 boats bringing aboard 89 coho and fair at Olson's Resort's east docks, where 63 anglers in 25 boats landed 30 coho.
Further east it's a tougher go.
Jerry Wright of Jerry's Bait and Tackle (360-457-1308) in Port Angeles said we are right in that in-between stage in the fishing seasons and he feels anglers' luck should change for the better soon.
“We need a little rain to pick things up,” Wright said.
“Hopefully that will come this weekend and they [coho] will come on down.”
Try from the beach
Fish checks showed beach anglers at Point Wilson at Fort Worden State Park have produced a small amount of fish, with 11 anglers catching three coho last Sunday.
It's been slow at the Port Townsend Boat Haven docks, where six anglers in 10 boats brought home just one coho last Saturday.
Water levels are a trickle out west, with Wright saying river fishing on the Sol Duc is tough right now.
“Start early and try small spinners, the size 3s work good, and jigging,” Wright said.
He offered cutthroat fishing on the upper portion of the Bogachiel as an option and said the kokanee bite has been decent at Lake Sutherland.
“The kokanee will be turning colors [to spawn] in the next couple of weeks, “Wright said.
“[Catching kokanee] definitely gets harder after that.”
Channel your inner Elmer Fudd on Monday when the state's cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare season open.
Hunters can take five rabbits per day, with a 15 straight or mixed bag limit.
This season runs through March 15.
Also opening Monday is forest grouse, with the birds open through Dec. 31.
Limits are four per day or 12 per bag.
“The good news is that grouse numbers seem to be up after two consecutive warmer springs provided better nesting seasons,” said Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist.
“Rabbit numbers seem to be up as well as their population cycle continues after the crash a few years back.”
Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.