A recent state Department of Fish and Wildlife North of Falcon presentation shed a little more light on what the 2023 salmon season for the Sekiu, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet and Hood Canal could entail.
The biggest takeaway? Marine Area 6 (East Strait of Juan de Fuca) hatchery chinook anglers may see a significant increase in quota this summer, but won’t see a blackmouth chinook fishery returning next winter.
Now none of these numbers or suggestions have received final approval, but the likelihood exists that many of these will come to fruition when finalized seasons are announced in April.
State fisheries biologists and managers have worked on modeling scenarios that take into account exploitation rates, with a particular focus on the Stillaguamish River, Nooksack, Skagit and Skykomish.
The first scenario used additional impacts to add quota to marine areas that have been the most restricted in recent years and the second used those impacts to bolster quota in areas that have relatively low impact on the Stillaguamish.
Combined together and using the catch-per-day model, quota totals would rise from 6,348 in 2022 to 8,758 in 2023.
Both Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 are expected to start salmon fishing on July 1, while Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will open July 13 with three-day Thursday through Saturday openings through July 30, and a seven-day-a-week fishery beginning July 31.
Hood Canal north of Ayock Point (Marine Area 12) will be off the menu for chinook retention again from mid-July through October.
There are some changes to the coho fishery with an expected uptick in returners to Puget Sound at play.
As usual, hatchery coho is expected to be open July 1 through Sept. 30 off Sekiu and Port Angeles.
Four non-selective (i.e. wild and hatchery) coho dates are in the works for both areas for the final two weekends in September, Sept. 23-24 and Sept. 29-30.
Marine Area 9 also is likely to see a non-selective coho fishery with a one coho daily limit from Sept. 18 through Oct. 8.
Big Quilcene idea
An interesting proposal to tackle some long-standing issues with the Big Quilcene River hatchery coho fishery is in the works, according to Hood Canal biologist Mark Downen.
The fishery typically runs from mid-August through October. Problems, particularly the public access at Rodgers Street, has seen plenty of problems through the decades ranging from overcrowding, conflict between recreational and tribal anglers, rampant snagging and issues with trash and human waste.
To try and deal with some of these issues, the fishery would allow recreational fishing from the river mouth up to the U.S. Highway 101 bridge from Aug. 16-31 with the traditional daily limit of four coho, each a minimum of 12 inches in length.
The change comes Sept. 1, when the fisheries boundaries move upriver to an area called Colyott Bluff to the 101 bridge.
Downen said the proposed move expands early season opportunity below Rodgers Street for that initial two-week period, removes overlap with tribal anglers, preserves sports fishing opportunity along the Fish and Wildlife Department easement and is expected to reduce traffic, fishing and impacts to summer chum throughout their primary spawning distribution.
Razor clam digging is open through Sunday at ocean beaches.
“For the first time this razor clam season, domoic acid toxicity is below closure levels coastwide in Washington,” said Bryce Blumenthal, a coastal shellfish biologist. “We still have plenty of harvestable, nice-sized razor clams on all beaches for some equally great digging during the first daylight low tides opportunities of spring.”
The following digs during morning (a.m.) low tides will proceed as scheduled:
• Today: 9:13 a.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.
• Saturday: 9:57 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis.
• Sunday: 10:44 a.m.; 0.2 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks.
The daily limit is 15 razor clams per person. Under state law, a daily limit consists of the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition, and each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.
Additional digs are tentatively planned April 6-12 and April 19-25.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at email@example.com.