Marine Area 7 (san Juan Islands) Closure Is Upon Us
We have heard that a early closing of our recreational salmon fishing in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) is upon us. It appears as if we have reached 90% + of our quota on Chinook. If we make it though the end of the month we will be lucky! We should hear something from WDFW this week. I will post the official notice as soon as I hear.
This is not good news for the Roche Harbor Derby coming up on the 5 -7 February (last minute news is that this derby seems to be saved, see below) or the Anacortes Derby on March 21st and 22nd. We'll have to wait and see what comes down from WDFW. Don't hold your breath.
Here's a little more additional information that Mark Yuasa, the outdoor editor for the Seattle Times was able to procure.
Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.
San Juan Island salmon fishery to close Thursday, then reopen for six days between Jan. 30-Feb. 8
State Fish and Wildlife has announced the San Juan Island (Marine Catch Area 7) salmon fishery will close starting Thursday, Jan. 29, and then reopen Jan. 30-Feb. 1 and Feb. 6-8.
Once it closes, state Fish and Wildlife will review the situation on catch impacts and guidelines to determine if additional fishing days can be offered after Feb. 8.
The good news is this will save the sold-out Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 5-7, but the Anacortes Salmon Derby on March 21-22 could still be in jeopardy. Each of these two derbies lure thousands of anglers and generate thousands of dollar in revenue to the small communities surrounding the islands.
The decision comes on the heels of state fisheries reducing the daily catch limit from two-hatchery chinook to one back on Jan. 12 to control in their words “the fishery’s impacts on ‘wild fish’ stocks of concern.”
The fishery was supposed to be a five month-long season ending on April 30.
“We’re going to look at this really hard going into the North of Falcon (salmon season setting process), and see what can be done to stop it in the future,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association in Seattle and state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board member.
The decision has many anglers in a bind since the inland marine seasons are set on guidelines with angler encounters of wild or unmarked fish.
What makes this difficult to manage on a case-by-case area is that winter chinook are feeders, and move from area-to-area (eight total marine catch areas from Sekiu to Olympia).
On any given season the fishing could better in one area from another because baitfish schools are constantly moving around in Puget Sound, and the salmon hunting for them will go to where the majority of herring, smelt or candlefish reside. It is not uncommon to find one chinook in one area one day and then have it move to another by the following day.
Another issue surrounding this has been a push by the state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board to create the winter seasons into an aggregate type similar to what is used on the coast during summer salmon fisheries.
San Juan Island anglers must release all unmarked chinook and may keep only those with a missing clipped adipose fin, which identifies it as a hatchery fish.
A percentage of released wild chinook are not expected to survive, and are counted toward the management guideline of 7,775 chinook encounters in the San Juan Islands.
Preliminary estimates earlier this month by state Fish and Wildlife showed anglers had kept or released 4,060 chinook in the San Juan Islands through Dec. 28.
Will continue this saga when WDFW officially posts notifications.