Seattle Salmon Fishing Season Setting Process
Seattle salmon fishing and salmon fishing seasons for all of the State of Washington are currently being negotiated between the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Western Washington’s 21 seperate treaty tribes. This is known as the North of Falcon process, or NOF. This is a series of meetings between the State and Tribes that seeks to provide fisheries opportunity on healthy salmon stocks while adressing conservation concerns of weaker stocks.
I have had the opportunity to serve on the WDFW Sport Fishing Advisory Board for the past 12 years. I strive to represent the interests of the greater sports fishing community in the Seattle area. Seattle salmon fishing management has been especially difficult the past couple of seasons. In 2016 we were faced with exceedingly low forcasted coho returns. The major cause was expected poor ocean survival of juvinile salmon due to above average water tempatures off the Washington coast. This phenomenom was dubed “The Blob”. The Blob has since dissapaited. To our relief, actual coho returns in 2016 were much higher than predicted.
I am cautiously optomistic for Seattle salmon fishing for the 2017 season.The brite spots for this year are an increased chinook and coho forcast for Puget Sound. 2017 is also a pink salmon year. Pink salmon only return to the Sound in odd numbered years. This year, most Puget Sound hatchery salmon returns are quite healthy and should provide excellent sport opportunity. The State has invested decades of effort and millions of dollars to mass mark hatchery salmon with a clipped adipose fin so they can be readily identified in the on the water. Most of our Seattle salmon fishing is expexted to be for hatchery fish only this season. 78% of coho salmon in the Seattle marine area are expected to be of hatchery origin.
Final salmon seasons are approved by NOAA and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. This should occur about mid April.
-Captain Steve Kesling