ILWACO — Summer has barely begun, but the salmon fishing is already scorching hot off the Washington coast. On Saturday, June 23, the first official day of recreational salmon fishing season, the docks at the Port of Ilwaco were filled with fishermen returning with limits of Chinook and coho salmon.
“It was excellent,” said skipper and owner Tom Prozialeck of the Comanche, one of the first charter boats to return to the port during opening day. “I think everybody caught their kings and they’re a nice size for this time of the year.”
As the Saturday market bustled outside, Kevin Ward and his crew were busy cleaning salmon after salmon inside Sportmen’s Cannery.
“To be honest, I’m in shock,” said Ward, as he hoisted a 20-pound Chinook salmon off the hanging scale. “I didn’t expect to see this many fish, but it looks like everybody got something. It’s been a surprisingly good opening day — a lot better than I had expected.”
While fishing fortunes can change from tide to tide, the strong start has some wondering how long the season may last before the quota is met. The recreational Chinook quota this year is 27,500 fish —17,500 fewer fish than the quota in 2017 of 45,000. Meanwhile, the coho quota is 42,000 fish, the same as last season.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Sea Breeze Charters owner Pat Schenk. “It’s good for the customers now, but hopefully we’re still going in August.”