ILWACO, Wash. - Anglers must release any chinook salmon they catch in ocean waters off Ilwaco, Wash., beginning today, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced.
The department issued the regulation after anglers' total catch of chinook this summer exceeded the harvest guideline for Marine Area 1 off the coast of southwestern Washington, said Phil Anderson, special assistant to the WDFW director.
The requirement to release chinook salmon in those waters does not affect fishing for coho or other salmon species in Marine Area 1, nor does it affect salmon-retention rules in other coastal waters or the Buoy 10 fishery.
"The goal of this regulation is to keep the fishery open and provide anglers the opportunity to continue fishing for coho salmon," Anderson said. "Catch rates for chinook have been strong throughout the season, but we still have substantial numbers of coho remaining under the quota."
As of Sept. 4, coastwide catch totals for the recreational salmon fishery had reached 87 percent of the chinook guideline, Anderson said. Although the Ilwaco area was the first to exceed its catch guideline for chinook, Anderson said fishing for chinook salmon has also been good this year in other coastal waters.
Barring any further actions, the salmon fishery out of Ilwaco is scheduled to run through Sept. 30. Salmon fisheries out of Westport, LaPush and Neah Bay (marine areas 2-4) are scheduled to close Sept. 18, although Anderson recommends that anglers check the WDFW Fishing Hotline (360) 902-2500) or the department's Web site, (http://wdfw.wa.gov/) for any updates as the end of the season nears.