Fishing: Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of numerous fishing opportunities. In the freshwater, anglers can cast for chinook and steelhead at some the region’s rivers, as well as trout and bass at local lakes. On Puget Sound, crab and chinook fisheries are under way, with additional salmon openings around the corner.
Salmon fishing got off to a good start in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. Catch counts on opening day (July 1) in the San Juans show 46 anglers at the Bellingham ramp checked 12 chinook, while 65 at the Washington Park ramp brought home 15 chinook.
In Marine Area 8-2, fishing continues to be slow at the Tulalip Bay “bubble” fishery, said Thiesfeld. The fishery is currently open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.
Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) also is open for salmon fishing, but anglers must release all chinook through July 15.
Anglers will soon have other opportunities in the region to catch and keep chinook. Beginning July 16, marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 open for hatchery chinook salmon retention. Anglers in those two areas will be allowed to keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Those fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon.
The chinook selective fisheries in marine areas 9 and 10 run through Aug. 31. Thiesfeld reminds anglers that regulations vary for inner Elliott Bay, Sinclair Inlet and public fishing piers in those marine areas. Check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm) for more information.
When releasing salmon, anglers should keep the fish in the water and avoid using a net, Thiesfeld said. If a net is needed, use a rubber net or a soft knotless nylon or cotton net.
Thiesfeld also suggests that anglers:
· Look for the adipose fin while playing the fish, and use polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.
· Avoid the use of light tackle and play the fish quickly to avoid exhausting it.
· Modify tackle to reduce potential injury to the fish. For example, use circle hooks when mooching and only one hook on hoochies and bucktails.
· Use a dehooker to remove the hook.
· Cut the leader if the fish has swallowed the hook.
· Avoid touching or handling the fish, especially around the eyes and gills.
· Support the entire length of the fish if it must be lifted out of the water.
· Do not lift the fish by the tail or jaw.
· Gently place the fish back in the water.
Anglers can find information on selective fishing and selective fishing techniques on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/selective/techniques/.
Meanwhile, the crab fishery is under way in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 and 10. Fisheries in those areas are open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. The southern and eastern portions of Marine Area 7 will open July 14 under the same weekly schedule.
The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW's sport-crabbing website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/shelfish/crab/) for more information.
In freshwater, anglers can fish for hatchery chinook salmon on the Skagit and Cascade rivers. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).
On the Skykomish, a new rule that went into effect July 6 prohibits the retention of chinook from the mouth upstream to the Wallace River, the only portion of the river that was open to salmon fishing. Low chinook returns to the Wallace River Hatchery prompted WDFW to close the river to chinook retention to help ensure enough salmon make it back to the hatchery to meet spawning goals. For more information, check the emergency rule change at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=927.
Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm.
Wildlife viewing: Now's a good time to head to the Ballard Locks to check out salmon passing the fish ladder viewing windows. Several hundred sockeye pass through the fish ladder daily, and in the next couple of weeks chinook should start showing up in greater numbers. The Ballard Locks are located in northwest Seattle where the Lake Washington Ship Canal enters Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound. For information, call the locks' Visitor Center in Seattle at (206) 783-7059.
Whalewatchers in the region recently reported a unique sighting. About 100 Pacific white-sided dolphins were spotted north of the San Juan Islands. “They put on an amazing show, riding our wake and breaching,” according to a report on the Orca Network (http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html).
Elsewhere, birders visiting Marymoor Park in Redmond spotted numerous species, including wood ducks, a barn owl, several Rufous hummingbirds, a purple martin and a Bullock’s oriole.