The announcement of 2013 run-size predictions for Washington's myriad wild and hatchery salmon stocks is slated for Friday, March 1, in Olympia.
Of key interest to anglers here will be expectations for pink salmon returns to the Nooksack River and other inland waters.
This annual presentation, in past years held at the first of February, kicks off this year's salmon fisheries rule-making season. Open to the public, this all-day inaugural session will take place in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building on the Capitol Campus.
Involving tribal, state and federal government negotiators and managers, it is out of this annual process that most of the coming year's commercial and recreational salmon fishing opportunities are born.
MAJOR MEETINGS SCHEDULE
Soon after the forecasts are made, a series of public meetings will provide more information about estimated runs, ocean quotas, the application of federal wild stock protection laws and possible fishing season scenarios, all of which will be under consideration and up for discussion in development of individual fisheries.
- March 6-11: The Pacific Fisheries Management Council meets in Tacoma to announce ocean fishery options including quotas.
- Friday, March 15: The initial session of the North of Falcon process convenes in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building in Olympia. State and tribal managers will present the breadth of preliminary Washington jurisdiction inshore, inside and freshwater proposals.
- Wednesday, March 27: The second North of Falcon session is held in Lynnwood's Embassy Suites Hotel, where the public may participate and then preferred options, in part, for Puget Sound salmon seasons are developed.
- Friday, March 29: A final Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay fisheries session takes place in Olympia to finalize seasons for those waters.
? Monday, April 1: A North of Falcon meeting in Olympia's Natural Resources Building presents ocean and Columbia River options, then settles on a preferred fisheries seasons proposal for both areas.
Washington managers will hold a series of regional briefings on expected salmon run-sizes and options for fishing on them. Areas of focus as well as meeting dates and locations are:
- Columbia River fall run forecasts and all fisheries seasons, Wednesday, March 12, at Water Resource Education Center in Vancouver, Wash.
- Grays Harbor focusing on salmon forecasts and seasons Friday, March 14, at Montesano city hall.
- Willapa Bay centering on salmon forecasts and season options, Monday, March 18, in the Elks Lodge at Raymond
- Strait of Juan de Fuca highlighting marine areas 5 and 6 recreational fisheries, Thursday, March 21, at Trinity Methodist Church, Sequim.
- Greater Puget Sound management goals and initial salt- and fresh-water recreational season options, Saturday, March 23, at WDFW region 4 headquarters in Mill Creek.
- Ocean Salmon Management for public comment on the range of ocean sport options considered by the PFMC, Friday, March 25, at Chateau Westport, Westport.
- Statewide commercial and sport salmon season options briefing and discussion for east-siders, Wednesday, March 27, at Benton PUD in Kennewick.
SALMON SEASON WRAP-UP
The salmon season-setting process will culminate April 6-11 in Portland at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, at the final Pacific Fisheries Management Council sessions, where all finalized seasons get the seal of federal approval.
The panel will adopt 2013 ocean (under federal jurisdiction 3-200 miles) salmon catch quotas, plus sport and commercial seasons will be agreed upon for Washington's nearshore coastal waters, greater Puget Sound and river and streams throughout Western Washington.
RUN-SIZE DETAILS AND MORE ONLINE
Once they have been announced, WDFW usually posts links their salmon-seasons setting Web page to listings of individual run forecasts for each managed salmon stock in many Puget Sound rivers.
Additional background information about the procedure for setting salmon fishing seasons known as the North of Falcon process, including details on meeting locations and times, also can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.
HUNT REG CHANGES
Further expansion of spring black bear hunting opportunities in Northwest Washington to cope with ongoing damage to trees on managed forest lands is captured in one of 17 proposed changes to the 2013 Washington hunting regulations.
A portion of the proposed changes are of a housekeeping nature, making alterations to language on Washington Administrative Code (WAC) regulations and modifying permit levels for various GMUs or by species among the special big game animals.
The spring black bear proposal would boost to 30 the number of drawing-issued tags for the North Skagit option in the suite of westside offerings and lengthen the opening by 15 days to a total of two field months for this opportunity. A similar time extension is proposed for the Monroe spring black bear hunt.
Illuminated nocks on arrows would become permissible in new recommended weapons language and the archer's option to kill antlerless elk would return to portions of the greater Naches River valley with the inclusion of the Bumping and Nile GMUs in the 2013 early bowhunt spike/antlerless menu.
A complete rendition of the proposals is available at wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations/2013/wsr_13-03-152.pdf.
Written opinions on any or all of the recommendations can be submitted to the department until Friday, Feb. 15, for submission to the fish and wildlife commission.
The nine-member panel will take more oral and written testimony on the changes at its March Moses Lake session and then make final decisions on the modifications at its April meeting in Olympia.
Mike Jamboretz, long-time owner/operator of Jambo's Sportfishing and perhaps best known for his ocean bottom and salmon fishing charters out of Neah Bay, will talk about the art of halibut and lingcod fishing at the Wednesday, Feb. 20, dinner meeting of the Bellingham Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.
Jamboretz also books halibut excursions into Canadian waters and runs his 37-foot Delta in the fall for Puget Sound salmon.
Bellingham PSA members gather the third Wednesday each month at Nicki's Bella Marina Restaurant in Squalicum Harbor on Coho Way. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 7 p.m. with non-members welcome to attend both.
Planning will begin for the chapter's main event, the annual July Bellingham salmon derby.
RUN FOR THE BEAR DOGS
Karelian bear dogs, now integral members of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program's trouble black bear re-training effort, are still supported entirely by donations and fund-raisers.
One officer/KBD team, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officer Dave Jones and Indy, is stationed in Whatcom County.
Two 5K (3.1-mile) run-walk races are set for Saturday, March 9, in Olympia and Saturday, Mar. 23, at Mill Creek, with proceeds from each dedicated to the care and feeding of the department's current roster of these specially bred and trained bear dogs as well as future acquisition of these unique bruin antagonists.
T-shirts commemorating these runs also are available for sale.
For race event registration information and form,s log onto wdfw.wa.gov/kbd5k/ or send e-mail inquiries to KBD5K@dfw.wa.gov.
WINTER-RUN HATCHERY WATCH
With restrictions now prohibiting transfers of hatchery winter-run steelhead eggs to make up deficits if a hatchery does not get its needed spawners, it is more important than ever for enough adult fish to reach their artificial spawning destinations.
As of Thursday, Feb. 7, these are the numbers, reported by installation, of adult hatchery winter-run steelhead trapped as well as eggs already taken and other details:
Maritime Heritage Center Hatchery (Whatcom Creek): Three adults reported, no eggs taken
Kendall Creek Hatchery (North Fork Nooksack River): 62 adults, 92,000 eggs taken (target 165,000 egg take)
Marblemount Hatchery (Cascade River, Skagit): 185 adults, 253,000 eggs taken (target 275,000 egg take)
Whitehorse Hatchery (North Fork Stillaguamish River): 155 adults, 227,890 eggs taken
Tokul Creek Hatchery (Snoqualmie River, Snohomish): 701 adults, 657,373 eggs taken
Soos Creek Hatchery (Green River): 107 adults, 144,000 eggs taken
Dungeness Hatchery (Dungeness River): 41 adults, 43,000 eggs taken
Bogachiel Hatchery (Bogachiel River, Quillayute): 2,273 adults, 306,000 eggs taken
Humptulips Hatchery (Humptulips River): 871 adults, 229,750 eggs taken
Forks Creek Hatchery (Willapa River): 644 adults, 200,000 eggs taken
Cowlitz Hatchery (Cowlitz River): 873 adults, no eggs reported taken
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pblogs.belinghamherald.com/outdoors.