Three ocean salmon fishing catch-quota alternatives were set Thursday by state and federal fisheries officials, and anglers will see a big improvement thanks to stronger Columbia River salmon forecasts.
“This salmon (season) will be one of the most significant sport fishing years off the Washington coast dating back to the all-time peak in 1977,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board member.
“Here we are in 2014, and it’s like a time machine going back to the good old days of salmon fishing,” Floor said.
The high, middle and low sport-fishing quota alternatives are 60,000, 58,000 and 47,500 for chinook. Those numbers last year for chinook were 51,500, 41,500 and 30,000. For hatchery-marked coho, the high, middle and low numbers are 193,200, 176,400 and 159,600. Last year’s coho numbers were 75,600, 71,400 and 63,000.
The top two alternatives will include the highly popular early hatchery-marked chinook fishery that begins in mid-to-late May or early June, depending on the area. The low option has no early season.
Those would be followed by the summer season opening June 14 or June 21 depending on the area, and goes through mid- to late-September or until catch quotas are achieved.
State fishery managers unveiled a huge Columbia River forecast last month that could be a landmark return of nearly 3 million chinook and coho.
The Columbia River fall chinook forecast of more than 1.6 million is the largest return since at least 1938. The Columbia coho forecast is 1.2?million coho, and could rival the 2009 season, when about 1.05 million coho returned.
State Fish and Wildlife will discuss preliminary Puget Sound, coast and Columbia River fisheries Wednesday in Olympia. Final seasons will be set April 5-10.
For meeting details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.