ANYBODY WHO HAS driven U.S. Highway 101 to Olympia or points south has passed the George Adams Salmon Hatchery, a state-owned facility producing (as of 2010) 3.8 million hatchery chinook smolts, and a smaller amount of coho and chum.
Looking at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife information (available at tinyurl.com/PDN-FishPresentation) that was presented at last Thursday’s annual North of Falcon meeting in Sequim, one will see a projected return of 50,764 chinook, 48,305 of which are hatchery reared — including a 25,773 hatchery chinook return to the Skokomish River/George Adams Salmon Hatchery.
Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Company, has been pondering that number of hatchery chinook returning to Hood Canal.
“Think about that number — [nearly] 49,000 fin-clipped hatchery kings in a body of water the size of Hood Canal,” he said.
“That is potentially a six-week, world-class king fishery in a body of water with little public access.
“To someone who had recreational fisheries management 201 class at [the] University of Washington almost 40 years ago, that lack of boat launches means recreational anglers could never even make a dent in the non-treaty share, i.e. not catching over 7,000.
Norden attended the North of Falcon meeting. He came away even more certain there’s no biological imperative keeping chinook anglers out of Hood Canal from mid-May to July 4, in time to protect the Canal’s summer run of wild, genetically-distinct coho.
“At the meeting, I asked when the sport fishers will get their 20,000 share of the king run since Hood Canal is effectively ‘gill net only, no sport fishing allowed’ when those early summer kings arrive in May and June,” Norden said.
A precocious type, Norden also jokingly asked if recreational anglers could come to the Adams hatchery with bags in tow to tote away their share of surplus kings.
“Seriously, I recommended a May 15th through July 4th king season in the Canal with a two marked chinook limit,” Norden said.
“Ending the fishery on July 4 will protect the summer coho run. Since only five percent of the Hood Canal chinook are wild, impact on those wild chinook will be negligible. Such a fishery would be as good as any fishery for kings anywhere in much heralded fishing meccas in B.C. or Alaska due to the Canal’s small size.”
Norm Metzler of The Olympic Peninsula Halibut and Salmon Coalition called in to say the group’s spaghetti dinner attracted about 100 attendees last Saturday.
The coalition has called upon and received endorsements from numerous administrative bodies across the North Olympic Peninsula in an effort to reshape halibut season setting in area waters.
Funds raised at Saturday’s dinner will be used to fund lodging, meals and transportation for the group’s efforts at lobbying for change.
Another fundraising effort, an on-going raffle for more than $1,200 worth of prizes, will continue through April 15.
The public can purchase $5 raffle tickets at Swain’s in Port Angeles. The top prize is a $250 downrigger rod, Metzler said, while a Columbia River charter fishing trip for two also is in the prize mix.
Razor Clam digs
State shellfish managers have approved a razor clam dig beginning Friday with openings alternating between Mocrocks and Copalis beaches for three days.
A planned dig at Twin Harbors has been canceled after test results showed elevated levels of domoic acid, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for Fish and Wildlife.
Domoic acid has posed an ongoing problem for shellfish fisheries since 2015. The natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.
The razor clam digs, along with evening low tides and beaches, are listed below:
•Friday: 5:01 p.m.; 0.5 feet; Mocrocks
•Saturday: 5:44 p.m.; 0.2 feet; Copalis
•Sunday: 6:24 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Mocrocks.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]