PORT ANGELES — Significant restrictions in recreational fishing opportunities along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound were revealed when Washington’s 2019 salmon fishing seasons were announced Monday evening.
The salmon fisheries, developed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif.
Salmon anglers across the North Olympic Peninsula will be affected by the reductions.
Marine Area 9 chinook anglers may feel the biggest bite with the summer 2019 chinook quota of 3,500 hatchery kings reduced by more than one-third from summer 2018 (5,563).
The summer salmon opening date also has been pushed back for Area 9, with chinook opening July 25.
Blackmouth anglers in Area 9 also have lost the entire month of January from the schedule.
Hatchery kings will be open July 1 to Aug. 15 in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) with hatchery coho and pinks available July 1 to Sept. 30. The daily limit is two salmon with no extra bag limit for pinks this season — there will be no bonus bag limits for pinks in any marine area in 2019.
Marine Area 6 (East Strait of Juan de Fuca) will lose all of February’s blackmouth fishing with the winter fishery beginning March 1.
Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal north of Ayock Point) will open in August for hatchery coho fishing, a month earlier than 2018.
This year’s fisheries were designed to take advantage of a higher number of coho forecast to return to Washington’s waters as compared to recent years, said Kyle Adicks, salmon policy lead for Fish and Wildlife.
However, projected low returns of key chinook stocks in Puget Sound prompted fishery managers to restrict fisheries in Puget Sound and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“We’re able to provide more opportunities to fish for coho in some areas, particularly in the ocean and Columbia River, than we have been able to do for several years,” Adicks said. “But continued poor returns of some chinook stocks forced us to make difficult decisions for fisheries in Puget Sound this year.”
Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will be open daily beginning June 22 and running through Sept. 30, or when individual catch quotas are met in Marine Area 3( La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay).
The La Push subarea will re-open Oct. 1 through Oct. 13, or until a quota of 100 chinook and coho is met.
Anglers fishing in areas 3 and 4 will have a two-salmon daily limit. In all marine areas, anglers must release wild coho.
Neah Bay will have a subarea guideline of 5,500 chinook and a 16,600 hatchery coho subarea quota — a rise from 2018’s 3,024 chinook guideline and 5,370 coho quota.
La Push will have a 1,300 chinook subarea guideline and a 4,150 hatchery coho subarea quota, a reduction from 2018’s chinook guideline of 1,500 and a rise in coho quota from 2018’s 1,090.