2018-2019 Puget Sound Recreational Chinook & Coho Seasons by Marine Areas

2018-19 Puget Sound Recreational Chinook and Coho Seasons by Mar

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Washington’s salmon fishing seasons set for 2018

WDFW Marine Area Map

OLYMPIA – With low returns of Chinook and coho salmon expected back to numerous rivers in Washington, state and tribal co-managers Tuesday agreed on a fishing season that meets conservation goals for wild fish while providing fishing opportunities on healthy salmon runs.

The 2018-19 salmon fisheries, developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and treaty tribal co-managers, were finalized during the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Portland, Ore.

Information on recreational salmon fisheries in Washington’s ocean waters and the Columbia River is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/. The webpage also includes information on some notable Puget Sound sport fisheries, as well as an overview of Chinook and coho fishing opportunities in the Sound’s marine areas.

A variety of unfavorable environmental conditions, including severe flooding in rivers and warm ocean water, have reduced the number of salmon returning to Washington’s rivers in recent years, said Ron Warren, head of WDFW’s fish program.

In addition, the loss of quality rearing and spawning habitat continues to take a toll on salmon populations throughout the region, where some stocks are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, he said.

“It’s critical that we ensure fisheries are consistent with ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild wild salmon stocks,” Warren said. “Unfortunately, the loss of salmon habitat continues to outpace these recovery efforts. We need to reverse this trend. If we don’t, salmon runs will continue to decline and it will be increasingly difficult to develop meaningful fisheries.

A bright spot in this year’s salmon season planning process was a renewed commitment by Indian and non-Indian fishermen to work together for the future of salmon and salmon fishing, said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

“No fisherman wants to catch the last salmon. We know that the ongoing loss of habitat, a population explosion of hungry seals and sea lions and the needs of endangered southern resident killer whales are the real challenges facing us today. We must work together if we are going to restore salmon to sustainable levels,” she said.

Low returns of some salmon stocks prompted state and tribal fishery managers to limit opportunities in many areas to protect those fish.
For example, recreational anglers will have less opportunity to fish for Chinook salmon in both the Columbia River and Washington’s ocean waters compared to recent years. Tribal fisheries also will be restricted in certain areas to protect weak stocks.

In meeting conservation objectives for wild salmon, the co-managers are limiting fisheries in areas where southern resident killer whales are known to feed. The adjustments will aid in minimizing boat presence and noise, and decrease competition for Chinook and other salmon in areas critical to the declining whales. 

Details on all recreational salmon fisheries will be provided in the 2018-19 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in late June.

For information on tribal fisheries, contact the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (http://nwifc.org/).

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Washington Sport Halibut Quota 2018

SquidPro Tackle's Halibut Fishing Chronicles

Here is a breakdown on the poundage quota for the 2018 sport halibut fishery in Washington waters.  This information is pulled from the Federal Register at:

Also note, SB-6127 the Halibut Catch Record Card bill passed and was signed by the Governor and will be implemented in 2019. This year we have asked WDFW managers to have their license sales vendor re-program the point of sales system to not issue any free halibut catch record cards after July 1st, 2018 when there’s no chance of fishing for halibut. Hopefully this will give WDFW fisheries managers better numbers to figure out the actual sports catch. Once the new low-cost Halibut Catch Record Card law goes into effect it will drastically reduce the numbers of halibut anglers which we hope will reduce the sport catch estimates and give us more time on the water fishing for halibut.

This season, depending on…

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Sport Fishing Ban Along Vancouver Island Proposed To Help Orcas Eat More Salmon

WhalesFamilyOrcas are on the decline along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has proposed a solution — to ban all sport fishing from Sheringham Point to East Point on an experimental basis from May through September 2018.

Fisheries managers claim the initiative would help maintain Chinook salmon populations in essential feeding areas for southern resident Orcas that rely on Chinook salmon to survive.

Lots of people disagree with this Draconian measure. According to Ryan Chamberland, owner of Vancouver Island Lodge near Sooke. He says only 2% of recreational caught salmon is attributed to the Orca’s diet.

Sooke currently pen raises 500,000 Chinook smolt to be released in the Strait, which should help feed the Orcas. Sooke sports anglers say they are doing something to help the Orcas. A sport fishing ban would in fact cost millions of dollars to the British Columbia economy impacting not just sports anglers but dozens of related businesses including lodges, guides, tackle shops, motels, restaurants etc.

Sooke and other local anglers have proposed a bubble zone to DFO fisheries managers. Their plan would mandate sports anglers to move when Orcas go near certain fishing areas in order to give Orcas a clear and quiet zone to feed on salmon.

This sounds all warm and fuzzy, but I can tell you from experience, Orcas don’t much care if anglers are in the area and will continue feeding if there’s salmon there. And while this possible months long closure would save such small numbers of potential Orca food, halibut anglers would be prevented from fishing simply because DFO fisheries managers want to save a few salmon. This, my friends is a slippery slope that makes non anglers “feel good.” In reality it won’t save Orcas.

The real solution is seal and sea lion control. These pennipeds are record high numbers and eat far more salmon than recreational anglers catch. Let’s ban them from eating salmon.

Some have also suggested moving the no fishing boundary in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from French Beach to Sombrio Beach.

By taking a couple kilometers here or there we can preserve those recreational fishery values while still playing a major role for southern resident killer whales,” said Director of Business development for the sports fishing institute of B.C. Martin Paish.

The DFO is taking feedback at ashley.dobko@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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Fishing Canadian Waters in 2018

SquidPro Tackle's Halibut Fishing Chronicles

Last July Canada passed a law making it easier for anglers to enter Canadian waters and go fishing.  In years past anglers had to call Canadian Customs upon entering Canadian waters.  Here’s what the new law reads:

Reporting Exemptions

If you are visiting Canada, you are not required to report to the CBSA if you:

  • Do not land on Canadian soil and do not ANCHOR, moor or make contact with another conveyance while in Canadian waters, and
  • Do not embark or disembark people or goods in Canada

Simply put, if you plan to anchor for halibut in Canadian waters you MUST call Canadian Customs at 1-888-226-7277 and get a Canadian Customs Clearance Number.

Upon re-entering U.S. waters You MUST call the U.S. Customs at 1-800-562-5943

I just called today, 3-10-2018 to confirm this rule/law.

Everyone aboard your vessel will need a Passport, Enhanced Drivers License, Global Entry or Nexus Card…

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10 Year Puget Sound Salmon Plan Ignores Science!

   Below is a letter Darryl Sanford, Sequim resident and North Olympic Peninsula Puget Sound Angler member wrote in response regarding current policy and problems with the proposed 10 year Puget Sound Salmon Plan. Also note, Darrly, and his twin brother, Dave, have lived and fished the Straits of Juan de Fuca their whole life and have historical and anecdotal evidence of local fish runs, especially the Dungeness River.  Hopefully fish managers and politicians will take note, as Darrly has detailed many issues that need to be addressed before Draconian, mandated fisheries regulations made behind closed doors take effect.

Dear Fellow Fishermen and Whale Lovers,

Finally, acknowledgement from the “experts” that predators are having a significant impact on salmon stocks.  (See Puget Sound Institute articles on 1/25/17, 11/20/17, and PDN “Predators Depleting Salmon for Orcas” 11/21/17.) How can our WDFW, in conjunction with the Tribes, be adopting a 10 Year Puget Sound Chinook Management Plan which appears to ignore this ‘new’ information?   The revelation that Seals and Sea Lions alone are taking six times as many Puget Sound Chinook as Commercial, Recreational, and Tribal fishermen combined should be reason enough to put an immediate “hold” on issuance of this management plan. Until these Puget Sound Institute studies can be fully understood, it would be ludicrous to proceed. It would seem that any long term plans for the future cannot continue to ignore the enormous consumption of salmon and steelhead by predators. I suggest that WDFW issue no plans for management of our salmon until the impact of predators can be addressed and incorporated into the plan. Declines in the Southern Resident Orcas have tracked the decline of our fish. Their very livelihood may also depend on quality management plans.

   The Puget Sound Institute studies only consider the impact on Chinook Salmon; however, to a great extent, Steelhead, Coho, and other salmon are in the same predicament.  Some noteworthy statements from these articles follow.  Since the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972), “Harbor Seals grew from a Salish Sea population of 8,600…to 77,800 in 2015”. “Today the Salish Sea…is believed to have one of the highest densities of Harbor Seals of any place in the world.” Seals consume “six times as many (Chinook) as are caught by Recreational and Tribal fishers combined.”  “Adult California Sea Lions grew from 5,900 animals in 1975 to 47,000 in 2015”.  “Steller Sea Lions increased…to 78,500”.  “…an estimated 27.4 million Chinook (were) consumed by harbor seals along the West Coast of North America in 2015”. “Seals and Sea Lions are decreasing potential returns by about 162,000 adult Chinook (in Puget Sound alone)…twice the number eaten by Killer Whales.”  “Killer Whales, however, remain the largest consumers of Chinook salmon biomass on the West Coast.  They take about 12,000 of the 16,200 tons of Chinook consumed by all the marine mammals”.  “That roughly 10,000 ton increase in consumption by marine mammals basically negates a cutback in sport and commercial fishing for Chinook salmon over that same 40-year period”.  “Total commercial and recreational catches of 400,000 Chinook in 1980 have declined to around 30,000 in marine waters in recent years”.  Please take some time to read those articles. Though I believe they greatly underestimate the take of adult salmon by Seals and Sea Lions, they largely confirm what my family (and others) have been preaching to deaf ears for years.

   The articles do not even consider the enormous consumption of salmon and steelhead by birds, other fish, other animals, nor the impact these overpopulations of predators have in competing for the same bait/food that our salmon and steelhead live on.  It is my humble opinion that the collective consumption of gulls, terns, cormorants, mergansers, other ducks, dolphins, other whales, bull trout, dog fish, river otters, sea otters, etc, would more than match the depletion in fish numbers caused by the mammals considered in these studies.  My brother and I have watched whales take in an entire ball of bait in one ‘gulp’.  We’ve caught bull trout in excess of 10 pounds on our west end rivers.  We’ve watched bull trout regurgitate a half dozen smolts while releasing these protected predators back into the river. Most bait balls in recent years have multiple seals gorging themselves right alongside the gulls, ducks, dog fish and (hopefully) salmon. We observed 30-40 seals on the same ball of bait off Ediz Hook a couple of years ago.  It seems mergansers live on our rivers year round and on an average day of fishing, one will see dozens and dozens of them constantly searching for salmon and steelhead smolts.

   After Chinook were listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, experts came up with a “blueprint for Chinook recovery”.  “The plan focused on improving salmon habitat, hatchery operations and fishing regulations to restore the salmon runs”. Nothing mentioned about predators. How is that possible?  Hatchery Operations have obviously been mostly reduced or ignored in this area while Habitat and Regulations gobbled up available dollars. We’ve all laughed (or more accurately cried) while observing the millions and millions of dollars being spent on Habitat Restoration of streams where little or no water exists, and culverts being replaced by bridges while ignoring the hundreds of miles of beautiful (existing) habitat going virtually unutilized in the streams and rivers we already have (with no habitat enhancement required!). All the while watching our hatchery programs being cut back or eliminated.  Show me one study that has proven wild fish stocks  are adversely affected by hatchery programs! No one loves a wild fish more than I do but I’d rather catch a fish than nothing at all. I can see it coming…Despite overall Killer Whale populations on the West Coast increasing from 292 to 644 over the past 40 years, because the Southern Resident Orcas  (whose numbers have declined 20% in recent years) “prefer Chinook Salmon”, Recreational Fishermen will soon see opportunities to fish salmon further reduced or eliminated completely. Will we as Sportsmen simply stand by and watch this happen?  I suggest we push hard to maximize existing (and build new) Hatcheries and pursue Predator Control measures wherever possible. Those Killer Whales don’t care if the fish they catch/eat is a wild fish or a hatchery fish, nor do I. Is in not interesting that the decline of the Orcas closely tracks the cutbacks in our Hatchery programs?  Restore our fish runs and both fishermen and Killer Whales are satisfied.

   In my mind, the largest obstacle to restoring our fish, may be the misguided notion that we have to keep genetics unique to each river.  This is foolishness and simply not possible.  Fish voluntarily stray to other rivers. Hatcheries since the early 1900’s supplemented any weak runs on our Olympic Peninsula rivers with fish from other rivers, and those runs recovered and thrived for years prior to the Boldt Decision.  Check out what has happened in South America.  Chinook from Washington’s Cowlitz and Kalama Rivers were used to start hatcheries in two locations on two rivers.  That was 30 years ago and now they have thriving “wild” Chinook runs on every river for 1500 km of coast line (Argentina and Chile).* Expansion to new rivers continues and is because a small percentage of fish continue to voluntarily stray to other rivers.  They have created a thriving world class fishery, started with our West Coast salmon, while we watch our rivers die. Trying to maintain genetics unique to each river keeps our fish on the Threatened and Endangered Species Lists, keeps 350 square miles of East Marine Area 6 closed to Chinook fishing for 24 years, and keeps the habitat restoration dollars flowing in but it prevents us from restoring fish runs.  Right here on the Olympic Peninsula, hatcheries have been wildly successful in the past.  More recently, the Snyder Creek Hatchery produced world class steelhead, so we shut it down.  The Quinault Tribe has abundant and huge hatchery fish returning to the Queets and Quinault River systems. Instead of studying what’s working so well, our all-wise “experts” have informed the Quinault Nation that they will need to curtail or end that program because those aggressive hatchery fish are eating so much food that they are depriving our wild fish of enough food to survive. Say what??

   Look at what Alaska has done with ‘terminal’ salmon runs. Opportunities abound for commercial and recreational fishermen from salmon runs that don’t even return to rivers. (Now there’s an answer to those misguided purists afraid of mixing hatchery fish with wild fish in our rivers.) The last time I fished on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, the weather got bad so I went down to the Homer Lagoon and caught beautiful kings from shore, while kids and people who could not afford a boat were having the time of their lives. Alaska’s PNP (Private Non-Profit) Hatchery Program supports 25 hatcheries paid for by fishermen’s self imposed tax on landings. Huge and consistent runs of fish result. Release sites are selected so that hatchery stocks can be fully harvested with minimal impact to wild stocks.

   As crazy and backward as it seems, most of our predators are protected.  The Federal Government will no doubt require many years of studies and impact statements before ever even considering a management program for marine mammals. Perhaps WDFW could have some influence with the Feds (emphasizing the Orca issue) and expedite a management plan. I suggest we overwhelm the predators with robust hatchery programs. Operate Hatcheries at full capacity with best known practices and spread those fish to all our dead/depleted rivers. And start some “terminal runs” like Alaska has! This could stand a chance of getting ahead of the predators. A cash bounty (as was in place on seals between 1947 and 1960) on mergansers, cormorants, gulls, terns, otters, etc., is something that should be considered for the near future.

   Something needs to change.  Years of existing fish restoration programs costing hundreds of millions of dollars have failed to stem the decline of our fish runs. WDFW personnel will no doubt resist any significant changes to “the plan”. Pat Neal may be correct in believing that the plan is to “manage to extinction for profit”.  Off-the-deep-end Environmentalists will prefer to enhance predation of our fish and game through protection and reintroduction of natural predators (so harvest by non-native humans can be eliminated).  They don’t support the WDFW operations.  Sportsmen’s dollars do and it seems we deserve better, including a seat at the table during the heretofore secret North of Falcon meetings. Remember, Orcas need the salmon too.

Darryl Sanford

Sequim, Washington

Reference Materials:

“Study says predators may play major role in Chinook salmon declines”, Jan. 25, 2017, Richard Dunagan, et al, Puget Sound Institute.

“Seals and Sea Lions may be slowing salmon recovery, hurting orcas”, Nov. 20, 2017, Richard Dunagan, et al, Puget Sound Institute.

* “Chinook Salmon Rapidly Colonize Rivers”, by Liz Osborn

“Chinook Salmon invade Southern South America”, Cristian Correa and Mart R. Gross

Center for Whale Research, 2016

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Breaking News About Retaining Canadian Caught Salmon

My letter to Director Unsworth and the WDFW Commission  members worked. Today an Emergency WAC regulations was passed,  WAC 220-56–156 allowing anglers to retain British Columbia salmon without going to one of five B.C. Government docks to get a clearance number. New WAC listed below.

This means anglers can now fish Canadian waters for salmon just like they do for halibut and bring their fish back to the U.S. as long as they have a Canadian Customs number, obtained by calling 1-866-CAN-PASS upon entering Canadian waters. Anglers also need an I-68 or Nexus Pass to re-enter U.S. waters.

Salmon & Halibut Fishing in Canadian Waters — What You Need To Know

  1. Purchase your B.C. Tidal Waters Fishing License. You can purchase it in B.C. at a dealer or go online and purchase your single day, multiple day or annual license. However, if you purchase an online license you can not fish in some Areas for halibut
  2. Cost for 1 day, $7.35 CND, 3 day, $19.95 CND, 5 day, $32.55 CND, Annual, $106.05 CND All above prices are for ages 16 and up. Also, this online license prohibits non-Canadian license holders from fishing for halibut in Areas 23, 121 & 123. This would apply to halibut anglers departing from Neah Bay either by charter boat or private boat. Halibut anglers who plan to fish these areas MUST purchase their license in person from a dealer in British Columbia.
  1. Everyone aboard your vessel MUST have a passport or enhanced driver’s license, I-68 or Nexus Pass.

Upon entering Canadian waters, the captain of the vessel MUST call 1-800-CAN-PASS. The Canadian Custom’s agent will ask a series of questions including, boat registration info, names and passport numbers for everyone aboard, their birth dates, where you are located now, where you departed from, how long you will be in Canadian waters, if you have guns, tobacco or firearms aboard.

  1. When re-entering U.S. waters you MUST call U.S. Customs at 1-800-562-5943  If you have either a Nexus Pass or an I-68 on file you will be able to clear customs via telephone. Also note, everyone MUST have one of these documents in order to avoid docking and waiting for a U.S. Custom’s official to inspect your vessel and I.D. of everyone aboard. An I-68 costs $16 per person or $32 for the entire family at the same address and is good for one year and enables boaters entering the U.S. from Canada to clear customs via telephone. The Nexus Pass is good for five years and costs $50. A Nexus Pass requires both countries to approve the applicant and make take several weeks. Both will require an in person interview. The I-68 can be purchased and obtained that day in most cases. To obtain an I-68 call your local U.S. Customs office and schedule a time to fill out the paperwork and be interviewed. You will need your U.S. Passport, or Enhanced Driver’s License.

Also note: It is now legal to bring salmon &  halibut back to your home port, even if salmon & halibut are closed in Washington waters.

And please note, B.C. has several Rockfish Conservation Areas that prohibit any kind of hook and line fishing. Anglers fishing near Middlebank need to know where they can and can’t fish. Please look at the maps below and note the coordinates of the no fishing zone.

WAC 220-56-156  Possession and delivery of Canadian-origin food fish and shellfish.

(1) Canadian license required. It is unlawful to possess in marine waters or deliver into Washington shellfish or food fish taken for personal use from Canadian waters unless the person who possesses or delivers the shellfish or food fish possesses a valid Canadian sport fishing license and catch record card, if one is required, for the shellfish and food fish taken.

(2) Canadian-origin rockfish restrictions: It is unlawful to possess yelloweye or canary rockfish taken for personal use from Canadian waters.

(3) Canadian-origin halibut restrictions:

(a) The daily limit of halibut is one daily limit, regardless of the origin of the halibut.

(b) The possession limit is two halibut if at least one halibut was taken from Washington waters. It is unlawful to possess in excess of the Canadian possession limit of halibut for the time and area fished if all halibut were taken from Canadian waters.

(c) It is unlawful to possess more than one daily limit of halibut aboard the fishing vessel.

(4) Canadian-origin salmon restrictions:

(a) It is unlawful to possess in marine waters or deliver into Washington any fresh salmon taken for personal use from Canadian waters unless such salmon meet current salmon regulations for the waters of the applicable department of fish and wildlife catch record card area. However, if the vessel operator has a valid Canadian customs clearance number obtained once they are in Canadian waters while the vessel was moored at a Canadian government dock in Ucluelet, Victoria, Sydney, White Rock, or Bedwell Harbour, British Columbia, fishers aboard the vessel may deliver Canadian-origin salmon into Washington that are lawfully taken in Canada, regardless of whether the salmon meet the current salmon regulations for the area where delivered.

(b) It is unlawful to fish for any species in state or offshore waters from a vessel having Canadian-origin salmon aboard that do not meet the current salmon regulations for the waters being fished.

(c) It is unlawful for a fisher to fish for any species in state or offshore waters if the fisher possesses in the field any salmon that do not meet the current salmon regulations for the waters being fished.

(5) “Delivery” of Canadian-origin fish into Washington defined. For the purposes of this section, “delivery” means transportation by a private or commercial recreational fishing vessel. Delivery in Washington is complete when, within the state, the vessel anchors, moors, ties to a float or pier, or is placed or attempted to be placed on a boat trailer. “Delivery” is also complete if the fish or shellfish are offloaded from the vessel within state waters.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 77.12.047 and 77.04.020. WSR 08-15-090 (Order 08-172), § 220-56-156, filed 7/17/08, effective 8/17/08. Statutory Authority: RCW 77.12.047. WSR 06-05-085 (Order 06-23), § 220-56-156, filed 2/14/06, effective 5/1/06; WSR 05-05-046 (Order 05-22), § 220-56-156, filed 2/14/05, effective 3/17/05. Statutory Authority: RCW 75.08.080. WSR 92-11-012 (Order 92-19), § 220-56-156, filed 5/12/92, effective 6/12/92; WSR 90-08-001 (Order 90-22), § 220-56-156, filed 3/22/90, effective 4/22/90; WSR 85-09-017 (Order 85-20), § 220-56-156, filed 4/9/85.]N

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