OLYMPIA — Anglers off the Washington and northern Oregon coasts can anticipate a summer salmon season quite similar to 2010.
“Last year, fishing was good for chinook and fair for coho,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The number of salmon available for this summer’s ocean fishery is expected to be similar to last year, so anglers should see another good year.”
State officials unveiled their 2011 salmon forecasts for Columbia River, coastal and Puget Sound streams here Tuesday. The presentation is the first step in a six-week process that will lead to adoption of the ocean regulations by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in mid-April.
Butch Smith of the Ilwaco Charter Association asked for a hatchery-chinook-only season open daily from June 11-25 off southern Washington and northern Oregon. For the main season, Smith asked for chinook and coho fishing to open June 26 with any chinook allowed, but only hatchery-origin coho.
Sturgeon season in the Columbia River estuary is scheduled to end June 26.
“We’re trying to dovetail an opener and a closer together so we can keep the economic machine going,” Smith said.
If not enough coho are available, Smith suggested delaying the start of the ocean season to July 3 with angling open Sundays through Thursdays, then possibly shifting to daily on Aug. 5. The bag would be two salmon, but only one chinook. Any chinook could be kept, but just fin-clipped coho.
Bill Burns of Long Beach said salmon fishing should be open both Saturdays and Sundays at the coast.
Smith countered the Friday-Saturday closure slows the catch and extends the fishing season.
“By adding a Saturday and Sunday both, you might as well go seven days a week,” Smith said. “You don’t have any way of making the season last. The motels, bait shops, tackle shops and restaurants can’t make it with a two-week season. We proved that years ago.”
In 2010, anglers off the southern Washington and northern Oregon coast had a coho quota of 40,600 and chinook guideline of 10,372. When the season closed on Sept 30, 61 percent of the coho quota and 68 percent of the chinook guideline had been landed.
Milward said more salmon fishing is anticipated off central and southern Oregon this summer, plus off British Columbia and Alaska. Those fisheries likely will result in a bit smaller catch allocations off the Washington coast.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet beginning Saturday at the Hilton Hotel, 301 W. Sixth St. The meeting will conclude March 10 with three options for potential ocean season.
A public meeting to discuss Columbia River issues will begin at 9 a.m. March 14 at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way.
Final decisions will be made April 9-14 by the PFMC in San Mateo, Calif.