Coastal chinook limit reverts to one fish on Sunday

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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ILWACO — Anglers once again will be limited to one chinook salmon per day when fishing off the southern Washington and northern Oregon coasts starting Sunday.

State fisheries managers increased the daily limit to two chinook last week, but a sudden surge in the catch prompted a return to the one-chinook rule in the Ilwaco and Westport areas, said Pat Pattillo, salmon policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The bag limit is two salmon a day, but only one chinook. Only fin-clipped coho may be retained.

“The number of anglers fishing out of Westport this week increased dramatically and their success in catching chinook was better than any week in recent history,” Pattillo said. “While we’re reluctant to go back to one chinook a day, this change is necessary to keep this fishery open for a full season.”

Anglers fishing off La Push and Neah Bay can continue to catch and keep two chinook as part of their daily limit — which also allows them to keep one additional pink salmon per day in those areas.

Prior to last week’s decision to increase the chinook limit off Westport and Ilwaco, Washington officials found that catch rates were lagging well behind last year’s pace, Pattillo said.

But that changed abruptly this week, when the number of anglers fishing those areas jumped 30 percent over the same period last year.

Fishing off the Columbia River mouth is scheduled to run through Sept. 30 or a catch of 33,600 fin-clipped coho. There also is a chinook quota shared by the entire Washington and northern Oregon ports.