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Blackmouth Salmon to the north, Spring Chinook to the south

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Hal C
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Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:25 pm    Post subject: Blackmouth Salmon to the north, Spring Chinook to the south Reply with quote

Update on Northwest Salmon Derbies and WDFW's call for the expansion of selective fishing to help protect native chinook and coho salmon stocks. Posted here with permission by Tony and NMTA - The Northwest Marine Trade Association, the oldest and largest regional boating trade organization in the nation.

Blackmouth to the north, Spring Chinook to the south

Wow! I love this time of year. Blackmouth salmon fishing is in full bloom. Salmon fishing has been awesome in February and the plate is full with outstanding options to get outside and drown a worm in the saltwater and, here comes one of the biggest parades of spring chinook bound for the Columbia River. So many fish, so little time.

Before looking ahead, letís take a second to review February and the results of a couple of big salmon derbies in the San Juan Islands in early February and mid-February near Sequim and Port Townsend.

The Roche Harbor Salmon Classic, limited to 100 boats hosted 350 anglers for their annual tournament Feb. 5-7. The weather was outstanding and 114 hatchery-produced, fin-clipped winter chinook salmon hit the deck. Thatís what hatchery salmon are supposed to do... hit the deck and on to the barbeque. The top fish tipped the scale at 18 Ĺ-pounds and netted about $17,000 for a Bellingham angler. The weather was great for fishing, catching and the fish were there. This was the second highest catch in the six year history of the Roche Harbor salmon derby. Works for me.

Presidentís Day weekend witnessed the 33rd annual Discovery Bay Salmon Derby. Again, the catching is limited to hatchery-produced chinook salmon only. For the second time in as many years and a local Sequim angler took home $5,000 with another 18 Ĺ-pounder. The weather was fabulous and just over 100 hatchery Chinook were entered in the tournament with 808 anglers participating.

At this writing, salmon fishing remains very good in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, northern Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Life is good.

Beginning this Tuesday, March 3rd, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will release the forecast for chinook and coho salmon abundances, by region, as the kickoff to a five-week-long salmon season setting process. I am hearing good things, again, at this writing, as the benefits of favorable ocean conditions are finally paying dividends for improving salmon survival rates. For example, the coho salmon forecast is for over 1 million coho to return to the Columbia River. That gets very close to qualifying for raining coho salmon. The chinook forecast also is improving from recent years with about a half million chinook headed for the Columbia River too. However, while the chinook forecast is improving, there are some conservation issues included in that forecast that may result in the need for conservation actions. These forecasts are important as most of the chinook, and coho salmon are headed south from southeast Alaska and British Columbia, hitting their favorite restaurants along the way until they are available to anglers off our coast. Iím panting now.

For Puget Sound, we have a reasonable chance to improve fishing opportunities for hatchery produced chinook salmon this summer through selective fisheries. Although the task of negotiating these opportunities is ahead of us with the Department and Puget Sound tribes, there is optimism in the air. Resistance to move forward with selective fisheries by the tribes and budget issues within the Department of Fish and Wildlife are very real. I will have a greater understanding of these issues a month from now, as seasons will be set by the end of the first week of April. By that time, spring Chinook salmon fishing will be in full swing in the Columbia River and anglers will have more fishing options available than menu items at your favorite diner.

At this writing, kudos to the leadership at WDFW to call for the expansion of selective fishing. For many of us, who have followed the evolution of selective fishing for chinook and coho salmon in the last 12 years, it is the highway to the future, despite its adversaries. Most anglers are unaware of the struggle that WDFW endures in its attempt to provide more fishing time on Washingtonís salt and freshwater scene. However, thanks to the team at WDFW who dedicate incredible energy to do the right thing, we are making progress, slowly but surely in the name of conservation. Selective fishing is about conservation. It is about protecting native chinook and coho salmon stocks that are under constant bombardment from the time they hatch until they offer their genetics at the end of their three and four year lives in the river of their origin. It is our job, in the sport fishing community, to support the evolution toward continuing expansion of selective fishing and thatís what Iíll be doing in the month ahead during the annual salmon season setting process.

In the meantime, March is a fabulous time to go fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Blackmouth to the north, spring chinook to the south on the lower Columbia River. I love this time of year. See you on the water.
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Captain Walker
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject: News - Columbia is expecting the largest salmon return... Reply with quote

The Columbia River mouth is expecting the largest salmon return since the mid 1980's...

Read about it in Tony's next article here

Forecast calls for strong salmon returns
Captain David Walker

Moderator, Boaters Line Moderator
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