OUTDOORS: More kings for the taking

OLYMPIA — Anglers can now double their fun with coastal chinook.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced an increase in the daily limit to two chinook for all four coastal salmon fisheries, effective Saturday.

That includes Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) on the North Olympic Peninsula.

After a month of fishing on the coast, 75 percent of the chinook quota remains.

This is enough to ease the one-chinook limit, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fisheries manager for Fish and Wildlife.

“When we set the catch limits this year we wanted to make sure anglers were able to continue fishing for the more abundant coho without closing the fishery to meet conservation goals for chinook,” he said in a statement.

Preseason forecasts showed more than one million Columbia River coho were expected to return this summer, allowing fishery managers to set the recreational harvest quota at 176,400 coho.

The recreational chinook harvest quota was set at 20,500 fish.

Areas 3 and 4 have had banner coho seasons thus far.

Anglers have averaged 0.76 coho per rod in Neah Bay, and a whopping 1.36 per rod in LaPush during the first five weeks of the season.

The chinook fishery has picked up quite a bit in Neah Bay during the last two weeks as well, with 888 kings (40.4 percent of this year’s guideline) caught during that time.

Here are the current regulations on both of the Peninsula’s coastal fisheries:

• Area 3 — Open seven days a week with a daily limit of two salmon plus two additional pink salmon; all wild coho must be released.

• Area 4 — Open seven days a week, daily limit two salmon plus two additional pink salmon; all wild coho must be released.

All chum must be released along with chinook caught east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line.

Hatchery help

Sol Duc and Quillayute river anglers can thank the Quileute tribe if they happen to hook a coho in 2012.

A unanimous vote of approval by the Quileute Natural Resources committee on June 12 set aside $31,500 in financial assistance for Fish and Wildlife to save 350,000 fry coho from being destroyed.

Fish and Wildlife was forced to make several cuts this summer in the face of severe budget restrictions.

The Sol Duc Hatchery’s coho program ended up taking a hit as a result, with releases being decreased by 350,000.

That meant eggs from that program hatched and reared prior to the cuts were without funding, hence the need for assistance from the Quileute.

The $31,500 will cover feed and other related hatchery operations so that the coho will be reared to release size.

Based upon recent years of data compiled by Fish and Wildlife, the survival of released hatchery coho is about 4.4 percent.

So the anticipated return on the 350,000 Sol Duc fish would equal about 15,400 additional fish.

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