OLYMPIA — The fishing has been so good out in Sekiu that the area is having to be closed earlier than anticipated to retention of Chinook (king) salmon, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon managers announced Friday.
Sekiu will remain open for hatchery coho and pink salmon retention, however.
The Chinook closures will affect Marine Area 5, which runs from the mouth of the Sekiu River east to Low Point near the Lyre River, the Tulalip Bubble and the Skykomish River. The closures are being made due in part to higher-than-expected catch rates and significant angler participation, as well as low returns to some hatcheries.
“It’s great that so many people are out on the water and taking part in these fisheries,” said Kyle Adicks, intergovernmental salmon manager with the WDFW. “But any time you have large number of anglers participating in a fishery, and especially when the fishing is good, it means we’ll meet our quotas faster. These closures are necessary to make sure we can meet conservation goals under our pre-season fishery plans.”
The closures include:
• Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) — Closes to Chinook salmon retention beginning Monday. On Thursday, state salmon managers estimated that 78 percent of the Chinook encounter quota had been met. While the area will close to Chinook salmon retention, it remains open for hatchery coho and pink salmon retention.
Anglers are reminded that they may pass through and land in a Marine Area with legal catch aboard the vessel, but it is unlawful to fish in an area with catch aboard the vessel that cannot legally be retained in that area. This means that anglers with Chinook caught in Area 4 (Neah Bay to mouth of Sekiu River) on board their vessel cannot fish in Area 5 beginning Monday.
• Skykomish River — The Skykomish River will close to Chinook fishing from the mouth to the Wallace River beginning Monday to help ensure the Wallace River Hatchery meets its broodstock goals.
• Tulalip Terminal Fishing Area (Tulalip Bubble) — The Tulalip Bubble closed to all fishing Friday until further notice. WDFW and co-managers have increased broodstock objectives for hatchery programs within the Snohomish watershed, and actual returns so far to the Bernie Gobin Hatchery are lower than expected.
See additional details for each of these closures at WDFW’s emergency fishing rules webpage: https://tinyurl.com/emergencychinookrule. For permanent rules throughout the state, see the 2021-22 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet at https://tinyurl.com/2021fishingregs.
These areas join Marine Area 7 in the San Juan Islands, which closed to salmon fishing July 8. Adicks said that Marine Area 9 (Port Townsend-Admiralty Inlet), which opened Friday, was already seeing significant fishing pressure and similar reports of high catch rates.
“We’ll continue monitoring returns to determine if any of these closed areas might be able to reopen yet this summer,” Adicks said. “We’ll also be keeping a close eye on other Puget Sound fisheries to make sure we’re staying within our quotas.”