Honesty & “Encounters” Will Likely Close Area 6 Early

000020Last Friday Area six salmon fishing rules changed from two fin clipped 22-inch or bigger Chinook to just one fish. When the WDFW sent out their press release, they noted that anglers had already reached 71% of allowable “encounters.”

In a nutshell, every time an angler has an encounter with a Chinook, either releasing a wild Chinook or undersized Chinook it counts toward the 2,586 encounters by sports anglers. The state relies heavily on fish counts at local marinas and boat launches. So, every time someone “encounters” a fish checker and brags about their fishing prowess, which may or may not be accurate, each fish verbalized to the checker counts against our Winter Blackmouth season. Honesty then, can hurt or help our Chinook seasons depending on the angler. While not advocating dishonesty about “encounters” I would suggest anglers be more wise while fishing and while at dock, speaking to fish checkers. First off, don’t use teeny, tiny lures — they catch more sub-legal fish. Target bigger fish with bigger lures. You won’t get as much action, but that’s the point. When you get a bite it will likely be a keeper sized fish over 22-inches. Lures should be at least 4.5 to 5 inches in length. Fast trolled plugs also help to avoid short salmon.

When speaking with the fish checkers use common sense and be honest about your catch.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

January 28, 2016

Anglers limited to 1 Chinook per day in Marine Area 6

Action: The daily catch limit for Chinook salmon in Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) will be reduced to 1 fish, with a 2 salmon limit. All wild Chinook salmon must be released.

Effective Date: Feb. 5 through April 10, 2016.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Marine Area 6 within Puget Sound.

Reason for action: Before the salmon fishing season started, WDFW and tribal co-managers agreed to a limited number (2,586) of Chinook encounters – retaining or releasing fish – anglers are allowed in Marine Area 6. Preliminary estimates indicate that anglers have reached 71 percent of those encounters. The fishery is being modified to control impacts on stocks of concern.

Other information: WDFW will continue to monitor and evaluate the fishery in order to help maximize fishing opportunity is available for Marine Area 6. Anglers are reminded that they must continue to release all wild chinook.

Information contact: Ryan Lothrop, (360) 902-2808.

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WDFW Rockfish Tagging Program

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New Sensei Flex Rods

This spring my new line of rods will be here and should serve most angler’s needs. My most popular rod, the 6-foot, one piece blue series rod will be available again, but with a new name, Sensei Flex. There’s also a lingcod/rockfish/albacore rod, one piece jig rod, 9-foot downrigger rods & an IM6 8 to 20 pound 9-foot salmon/steelhead rod. Please watch this video showing my one piece jig rod, designed for sensitivity and strength. Whether you want a one piece rod for salmon or halibut, this rod will handle the duty.

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Donald Trump & His Boys Support Public Lands

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Will NOAA End All Fishing In Puget Sound To Save Endangered Rockfish?

Here’s an e-mail I received tonight, regarding the potential TOTAL CLOSURE of Puget Sound to any sport fishing. This is very serious, so please read this and comment to NOAA before we lose ALL sport fishing in Puget Sound.

Hello Everyone,

The purpose of this email is to make sure that everyone is paying attention to potential federal action concerning ESA listed rock fish that may have huge impacts on Puget Sound salmon fisheries.

These are the facts as I understand them, so please correct me if anyone has different information.

In about three weeks, NOAA is going to come out with an opinion on implementations to protect ESA listed rock fish. NOAA has already identified what it considers to be critical rock fish habitat.

NOAA Rockfish Protection Area

NOAA Rockfish Protection Area

The link below should take you to the critical habitat map for rock fish in Puget Sound.  You’ll see that MA 7-10 and the eastern part of 6 are pretty well high-lighted.  The map pretty well covers the proposed closure of MA 7-10.

Critical Habitat for Puget Sound/Georgia Basin Rockfish :: NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region

From what I understand, NOAA is suggesting that up to 30% of the critical habitat be set aside as no fishing zones. This means no fishing of any kind including salmon fishing, halibut fishing, crabbing or shrimping. Almost all near shore areas in Puget Sound as well as banks like Posession Bar are identified as critical habitat, but what 30% do you think they will home in on? These areas cover the most productive, traditional, and time honored salmon fishing areas. If these areas are closed I do not believe we will see them reopen within our lifetimes. I think this is the most important salmon management issue that we have faced in many years, yet it is not being adequately addressed by the Department in the NOF process or by the Advosory Group. We are discussing priorities about small closures of Shilshole Bay or Northern outer Hood Canal while ignoring a possible 30% closure in all areas.  How accurate will a fram model be if fishermen, both sport and commercial, can not fish where the fish are caught? How do you model that?

NOAA is still taking comment and input prior to it’s opinion. There will be an opportunity for public comment after NOAA has released it’s opinion. It may be much easier to have some effect on the opinion prior to it’s release. No take groups that want closures are putting pressure on NOAA and NOAA needs to hear alternative perspectives.

Questionable science and policy are being considered in the formulation of the opinion. A few are provided below, please respond if you have others.

1) According to WDFW rock fish manager NOAA determined that Puget Sound rock fish were a separate species from ocean varieties when it added three species to the ESA list. NOAA is currently collecting DNA from hook and line caught rock fish for DNA sampling to determine IF they are indeed a separate species from ocean varieties. I am taking part in this data collection. Why form opinions and take drastic action without having the facts?

2)  Not enough time has been given for the recent  very significant regulations already in place to take effect. Rock fish are a very slow growing species not reaching sexual maturity until age 8 and not being really good spawners until about 12 years old. Rock fish are a long lived species that can go years and years, even decades between successful spawns.This fact is leading to the possibility that successful rock fish spawns may be the most important factor in recovery.

3) The 120′ rule that is already in place protects far more habitat than the proposed 30%. It should be given a chance to work.

4) NOAA does not have all the current data it needs and is building with a mix of old data and Canadian data in formulating their opinion. If relying on Canadian data, it is important to note that in recent surveys of Canadian areas that were closed to all fishing due to rock fish protection NO change was observed in populations of concern. Why should entire closures be considered if closures have not been proven to be a success?

5) Recent examples have shown that rock fish that were released using descending devices have had a very high survival rate at depths that exceed rock fish by-catch encountered while salmon fishing.

6) Ongoing studies are showing that successful lingcod fisheries can be conducted with minimal rock fish encounters.

The next NOAA meeting for this topic is March 30.

We need to discuss this asap and we need to have our opinions heard.


Steve Kesling

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Central Puget Sound Summer Chinook (King) Salmon Season Cancelled in 2015

Washington State fish and wildlife will close Catch Area 10 this summer to sport fishing for Chinook salmon. According to several reports, the draconian measure will help rebuild Lake Washington king salmon runs.  Marine Area 10, from Dyes and Sinclair inlets to Seattle.

In 1999 several Chinook salmon stocks were listed as “Endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, including the Lake Washington run. Since receiving the Federal listing, these salmon runs have declined 25 percent.

Sport fishing groups opposed and objected to the closure while local tribal fisheries managers favored the measure saying this year’s warmer water temperatures, weather patterns and lost habitat will make this year a bad year for Chinook salmon.

One of the biggest problems, however, was not addressed — an overabundance of sea lions and seals. The tribes have the ability to legally “harvest” sea lions. In previous years, the Muckleshoots did try to get tribal members to participate in a sea lion harvest but nobody wanted to eat them.

Several years ago, while working for Western Outdoors Magazine, I was working on a story about Herschel and Hondo, the two most infamous sea lions at the Ballard Locks. Two old guys told me a story under the condition I not report their story. It has been years now and time for the truth, according to them to surface. They claimed their good friend, who passed away two years before Herschel became a problem at the Locks, took care of the problem. To keep my promise I won’t name names. The individual the two old guys told me about lived on the water where sea lions and seals now hang out in front of the Ballard Locks, dining on federally listed endangered Lake Washington salmon and steelhead.

“Before Seattle woke up, _____ would take his .22 rifle and shoot any sea lion or seal within his range. He’d shoot it in the head and then lungs, two quick, fairly quiet shoots.”

They also said he only shot them on an outgoing tide and claimed the old guy did this for years. They said his shot to the lungs sank the animals and the outgoing tide took away the bodies. Within two years of his death the sealions and seals took over and decimated Lake Washington Salmon and steelhead stocks.

Now today, the feds have a choice, take care of a sea lion and seal problem or end sport fishing, which is the more politically correct option.

The tribes are our answer, in my opinion. If we can work with the tribes and convince them to use their legal status to “remove” sea lions and seals, by any means, perhaps our endangered Lake Washington Chinook salmon might have a chance to recover. And yes, there’s lots of other problems facing these fish, which include poor ocean conditions, declining bait, loss of habitat, over harvesting etc.

In Washington State, the tribes “co-manage” fisheries. However, in my opinion and the opinion of many others, state fishery officials cave to their wishes, needs, and demands because they don’t want expensive battles that could end up in court. In other words, they cave in at the cost of sports anglers. Also note, the feds pressured Washington State fisheries managers to make this deal.

This is not the first time the fishery will be closed. In 2006 the state cancelled the Chinook season. And its not the first time the state caved in to tribal politics. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Tribal fisheries will not be affected by the ban this year.

Co-managing at its finest, punish one group in favor of another. Not fair! The fish sports anglers don’t catch will now swim into a wall of nets or into the hungry mouths of an over population of sea lions and seals, all of which will be waiting near the Ballard Locks.

The tribal fisheries will not be affected by the ban. Again I say, we need to do a better job of working with the tribes, convincing them to help restore Chinook stocks and reduce predation on our fish.

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