Fishing Corner: Ocean salmon fishing has kicked off

One of the biggest fisheries in Grays Harbor is the ocean salmon season. This is more than a sport. It is an industry and draws anglers from around the entire country.

This year, the ocean season for salmon started early June and then kicked into high gear on June 23. This season is scheduled to end on Sept. 30, providing the quotas have not been reached. The season would end earlier if a quota of 27,660 hatchery coho or 23,500 Chinook guidelines is attained.

This fishery for Marine Area 2 is open Sundays through Thursdays only. The daily limit is two salmon (combined) and only one Chinook may be retained. All wild coho must be released for this fishery.

For your added information, the Grays Harbor Control Zone will be closed to fishing beginning Aug. 11. The Grays Harbor Control Zone is an area at the entrance to Grays Harbor bounded by a line from the lighthouse one mile south of the south jetty to buoy No. 2 to buoy No. 3 to the tip of the north jetty to the tip of the exposed end of the south jetty.

Anglers will not need to worry too much about this rule if they are with a charter, since these guidelines are known and adhered to by the skipper. If anglers operate their own vessel then they will need to get clear understanding on the perimeters of this rule.

Currently, Marine Area 2-1 which is water east of a line from Cape Shoalwater to Leadbetter point is also open to salmon fishing. This area, more commonly known as Willapa Bay, is an attraction for early salmon fishing. This water is open concurrent with the ocean (Area 2) for salmon and Area 2 rules would apply to this fishery. The closure of this water occurs July 31 under these terms and reopens the next day with a new set of rules and regulations. It would be such that, starting on Aug. 1 anglers may retain six salmon of which three may be adults. The release of wild Chinook and chum is mandatory. This time frame will allow a newly adopted rule that allows anglers to fish with two poles. Those wishing to do so must purchase a Two-Pole Endorsement which is valid wherever this regulation is permitted.

Fishing Grays Harbor or Area 2-2 for salmon is not permitted until Sept. 16. Anglers will be pleased to know they are entitled to keep a Chinook. This provision is short-lived and lasts until the 22. After Sept. 23, Grays Harbor Bay becomes a coho fishery entirely and all Chinook will need to be released.

The spring Chinook fishery is still attracting fishers. Interest persists in our northern rivers that accommodate this species. The greater attention, however, is southward. The Columbia River is on the top of the list for this activity. Anglers working the water near Cathlamet have been bringing home some nice springers.

So, we have some current and later salmon opportunities before us. The good part about it is that the condition of these fish is always favorable!