Under options approved this week, recreation anglers fishing off the Washington coast this year could see a higher catch quota for chinook salmon and certainly higher coho quotas.
The three alternatives for ocean fishing, approved late Thursday by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, are in response to projections of a higher abundance of hatchery chinook and a significant increase in the number of coho bound for the Columbia River.
The council establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast.
Chinook options range from 47,500 to 60,000 fish, while the coho options range from 159,600 to 193,200 fish.
“The strong returns forecast for Columbia River hatchery chinook and coho will allow us to provide recreational anglers some great fishing opportunities off the Washington coast this year, while continuing to meet conservation objectives for wild salmon populations,” said Phil Anderson, director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
More than 1.6 million Columbia River fall chinook salmon are expected back this year. If that forecast holds true, it would be the largest since record-keeping began in 1938.
The forecast for Columbia River coho is about 964,000 fish, three times as many fish as last year’s actual run.
In addition to catch quotas, the council also establishes season structures.
Two of the alternatives include mark-selective fisheries for hatchery chinook in June. If approved when the council meets in early April, this would be the fifth straight year the ocean fishery would begin with such a mark-selective fishery.
Mark-selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon that are marked with a missing adipose fin.
Two of the alternatives also would allow retention of hatchery chinook in the LaPush and Neah Bay areas during halibut openings in May.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640