Salmon fill ice box

Chinook salmon begin to fill the ice box of the Coho Mooch during opening day of the recreational salmon season off the coast of Long Beach on Saturday, June 20.

OLYMPIA — With recreational salmon fishing now open in Washington’s ocean waters, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is clarifying the rules for individual marine areas, as well as asking anglers to help ensure accurate catch estimates by cooperating with fish checkers at landing sites.

“We had a great, busy first weekend on the water,” said Wendy Beeghley, a fishery manager with WDFW. “But any time there’s a busy opener like this, anglers often ask us for some clarification of the rules, and we wanted to reiterate these regulations to help clear up any potential confusion.”

Coastwide, anglers cannot fish in an area if they have a catch on board that is not legal to retain in that area. For example, it is illegal to have salmon aboard while fishing in an area closed to salmon fishing, even if you caught the salmon elsewhere. Single-point barbless hooks are required in all marine areas while fishing for salmon.

The regulations for individual coastal marine areas are as follows:

Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco)

June 20-28: Daily limit 1. Chinook — minimum size 22”. Other salmon species — no minimum size. Release all coho.

June 29-Sept. 30: Daily limit 2, of which up to 1 may be a Chinook. Chinook — minimum size 22”. Coho — minimum size 16”. Release wild coho.

Marine Area 2 (Westport)

June 20-28: Daily limit 1. Chinook minimum size 22”. Other salmon species — no minimum size. Release all coho.

June 29-Sept. 30: Daily limit 2, of which up to 1 may be a Chinook. Chinook — minimum size 22”. Coho — minimum size 16”. Release wild coho. Open Sundays through Thursdays only.

Willapa Bay (Area 2-1) and the portion of Grays Harbor (Area 2-2) west of the Buoy 13 line also opened June 20 under the same rules as Area 2. Regulations for Areas 2-1 and 2-2 change in August.

Marine Area 3 (LaPush)

June 20-28: Daily limit 1. Chinook — minimum size 24”. Other salmon species — no minimum size. Release all coho.

June 29-Sept. 30: Daily limit 2. Chinook — minimum size 24”. Coho — minimum size 16”. Release wild coho.

La Push, located on the Quileute Reservation, remains closed to the public. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 3 will need to access the area from elsewhere, but must follow all rules and regulations for the marine area where they’re fishing.

Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay)

June 20-28: Daily limit 1. Chinook — minimum size 24”. Other salmon species — no minimum size. Release all coho.

June 29-Sept. 30: Daily limit 2. Chinook — minimum size 24”. Coho — minimum size 16”. Release wild coho.

Neah Bay, located on the Makah Reservation, remains closed to the public. Anglers fishing in Marine Area 4 will need to access the area from elsewhere, but must follow all rules and regulations for the marine area where they’re fishing.

In Marine Area 4, the waters east of a true north-south line through Sail Rock are closed to salmon fishing through July 31.

Ports are likely to be busy with more sunny days in the forecast, and Beeghley noted that port samplers in areas such as Sekiu are collecting data as anglers exit the docks. Anglers can help conservation efforts by bringing their full salmon or salmon carcasses off the boat and stopping at the marked sampling site atop the docks.

“Basically, we’re asking people to bring their whole salmon or at least the carcasses with heads intact to the checkers,” Beeghley said. “We need to scan salmon snouts as folks exit the dock area, and samplers will ask anglers a couple of questions, even if they didn’t catch fish.”

Samplers are also following protocol to help prevent the spread of covid-19; please provide adequate physical distancing for everyone’s protection.

Anglers can always find the latest emergency regulations at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/, or download the Fish Washington app for their smartphone at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/app. The 2020-21 edition of the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which covers regulations from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, will be available later this month.

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