Fish & Feathers: Big bonus in ocean salmon!

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>Marie Kessler and deckhand, "Sleepy Time Bob" show off a tagged 50-inch sturgeon. If you happen to catch a fish with a tag, make sure that you alert the game checker at the dock. Some of the tags offer a cash award.

Starting June 21 and continuing into the regular ocean salmon season, in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco), which opens June 29, anglers will be able to keep two Chinook salmon. This should be a big boon to both recreational and charter fishermen. Since the season began June 1, anglers were limited to one Chinook per day, but low catch rates have allowed the fishery managers to increase the limit.

Pat Pattillo, WDFW salmon coordinator said, "This yearly start was designed to give ocean anglers an opportunity to catch Chinook salmon before the bulk of the coho run - expected to be the lowest in decades - start arriving. We wanted to make sure anglers got a chance to catch Chinook in case we had to close the fishery to meet conservation goals for coho. But several factors such as high gas prices and rough weather kept anglers away."

Approximately 5 percent of the 20,000 Chinook set aside for harvest by sport fishermen coastwise (Washington) have been caught during the first weeks in June.

Also in this press release Pattillo says that the salmon season in Marine Area one is open seven days a week. (This was true in the early season but not in the regular season. I believe this to be a mistake and look for a correction from WDFW.) He also states that the program was designed to give anglers the opportunity to catch hatchery Chinook salmon. When fishing for Chinook salmon you are allowed to keep Chinook fin or no fin - confusion, confusion, confusion.

Those that have fished the early season, and there have been a few, have been doing so successfully in the areas of Buoy 1 and the CR Buoy.

Sturgeon Season EndsThe sturgeon season in the area from Tongue Point to Buoy 10 closed on Tuesday, June 24. As mentioned in a previous article, there is the possibility that after the final tabulation of numbers it may be reopened on a limited basis. Stay tuned for WDFW press releases about the sturgeon fishery.

Deer Hunting StatsThe average percentage of deer hunters that participated in muzzleloader season for the years 2001-06 was 6.1 percent, the percentage for archery was 12.6 percent and for modern firearm season was 81.2 percent.

The WDFW is inviting the general public to provide input for developing 2009-11 hunting seasons. If you are interested in participating go to the WDFW Web site, hit on hunting and look for the 2009-11 Hunting Season Setting Process. Be a part of the planning process.

The hunt page has some excellent sites on waterfowl areas, pheasant release sites and the "Go Hunt" site provides interactive mapping for hunting and recreational activities in Washington.

OddityOn two consecutive days during this past week, we landed a sturgeon that was hooked by two different fishermen on the same boat. When the fish was landed it had two different hooks in its lip. Whose fish is it? Luckily on both occasions one of the two fishermen had already landed a legal fish.

Ron Malast is operator of the charter boat Big Dipper working out of Sea Sport Fishing Charters in Ilwaco 866-211-6611 or 360-244-0570.

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