*Editors Note: If the chinook encounter guideline is reached, chinook fishing would cease west of Ediz Hook but remain open for hatchery coho east of Ediz Hook.
Hatchery chinook retention is likely to end soon in Marine Area 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) after anglers neared 90 percent (8,308) of the area’s 9,400 “legal-size encounters” in state Department of Fish and Wildlife catch estimates through Sunday.
Higher than historical catch-per-unit-of-effort averages in the opening weeks of the season led to more legal-sized encounters, eating up the area’s guideline.
A move to a Wednesday-through-Saturday hatchery chinook fishery was made last Friday after being recommended by Puget Sound Recreational Fishery Advisors and representatives of the Marine Area 6 community in order to extend the chinook season for as long as possible.
Depending on how the fishery shakes out, anglers could be forced into a shutdown of prime angling territory west of Ediz Hook until Aug. 16, when the fishery turns to hatchery coho through September. Coho fishing would remain open in the eastern portion of Area 6 if this occurs.
Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) opened on a daily basis Monday after an alternate-day fishery ran for a little more than two weeks.
That fishery was put on the alternate-day schedule after Neah Bay anglers ate up a large chunk of Area 4’s chinook guideline to open the season in June.
Through Sunday, Area 5 is estimated to be at 59 percent of the area’s legal encounter guideline (4,357 of 7,342 hatchery chinook).
Sekiu is now open daily through Aug. 15 for salmon fishing. Daily limit is two, with up to one hatchery chinook of a minimum 22 inches in size.
The Sekiu salmon fishery is scheduled to switch to chinook non-retention Aug. 16.
Area 9 open daily
Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is at 58 percent (2,705) of the area’s 4,700 hatchery chinook quota after two Thursday-through-Saturday openings beginning July 14.
Now open daily, Marine Area 9 has a two salmon daily limit through Aug. 15, one of which may be a hatchery chinook of 22 inches or more. Anglers must release all wild chinook, wild coho and chum.
Quilcene’s Ward Norden made a visit to the Quilcene National Fish Hatchery, in the “forlorn hope” of seeing some summer coho return to the federal facility.
“The hatchery stopped the summer coho project about 10 years ago and there haven’t been any returning since,” Norden said. “Wonder of wonders, I found about 20 mint-bright summer coho waiting in the trap at the hatchery. That is enough to restart the program in a small way to protect these unique salmon.”
Norden said these fish are genetically unique survivors of a climate change that occurred about 8,000 years ago and lasted 4,000 years.
“They are a priceless resource worthy of protecting and nurturing,” Norden said. “They only survived in streams around the Northern Hood Canal and have kept themselves separate from our domesticated hatchery salmon for the last century. The Quilcene hatchery quietly brought back both summer coho and summer chum back from near extinction almost 30 years ago when only a few dozen were left.”
Norden also spoke with hatchery staff to encourage their efforts at keeping these salmon returners apart from other hatchery spawners and spawn them separately this fall.
Razor clam diggers and other outdoors-minded folks are invited to participate in a survey from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that will gauge interest in an app-based harmful algal bloom forecasting tool as well as estimate the potential benefits of such a tool if the technology were developed.
You must be 18 years of age or older to participate in this study.
To participate, visit tinyurl.com/PDN-BloomApp22.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.