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News / Sports / Outdoors

Field Notes: Comments sought for setting salmon seasons

The Columbian
Published: February 23, 2024, 5:00pm

Fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have scheduled several opportunities for the public to participate in setting state-managed salmon seasons in 2024-2025, beginning with a hybrid statewide forecast meeting on March 1.

That meeting, part of the season-setting process known as North of Falcon, is just one of more than a dozen in-person and virtual meetings scheduled in the next two months to discuss salmon fisheries across Washington. North of Falcon refers to waters north of Oregon’s Cape Falcon, which marks the southern border of management of Washington’s salmon stocks, including Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Columbia River, and coastal areas.

WDFW will consider input from recreational and commercial fishers and others interested in salmon fishing while state fishery managers partner with tribal co-managers to craft the 2024-2025 fisheries.

“We know Washington anglers look forward to salmon seasons each year, and the season-setting process is a crucial time for the public to engage as we work alongside tribal co-managers,” WDFW Director Kelly Susewind said. “The process is about cooperation and collaboration. We’re committed to providing sustainable fishing opportunities balanced with salmon conservation needs. We are continually working to improve fisheries management in the interest of salmon, recreational and commercial fishers, and the communities that depend on the salmon resource.”

WDFW will present initial salmon forecasts developed by WDFW and tribal co-manager fisheries biologists from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 1 at the Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia. The main session of the March 1 meeting will be available to watch via Zoom webinar. Participants must register in advance, and registration can be found at WDFW’s North of Falcon public meetings webpage.

WDFW and tribal forecasters use a suite of scientific data, including watershed sampling and monitoring, ocean indicators, and previous year returns, to estimate the number of salmon and steelhead that will return to Northwest waters, and how many fish will be available for harvest.

In addition to attending meetings, the public can participate in the state’s process in other ways.

The public can now provide general comments on potential fisheries at WDFW’s North of Falcon public input webpage. Additional comment opportunities on specific seasons and fisheries will be available as forecasts and proposed season summaries are made available.

During the final days of negotiations, state fish managers plan to hold briefings each day, which will be available via virtual meetings.

For a full timeline of the state’s North of Falcon process, including a public meeting schedule with opportunities to participate in meetings and provide public feedback, visit WDFW’s North of Falcon public meetings webpage.

Additional days for sturgeon retention in The Dalles Pool

The WDFW added two days of white sturgeon retention in The Dalles Pool in the next week.

Anglers will be allowed to keep white sturgeon with a minimum fork length of 43 inches and a maximum length of 54 inches on Saturday, Feb. 24 and Wednesday, Feb. 28 in The Dalles Pool on the Columbia River and all adjacent Washington tributaries from The Dalles Dam to the John Day Dam.

The daily limit is one. Fishing for white sturgeon will remain open on other days through April 30, but those other days will be catch-and-release only.