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Originally published January 7, 2012 at 4:35 PM | Page modified January 7, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Selective salmon fisheries have proved to be a big hit

In northern and central Puget Sound summer anglers target hatchery chinook — which are identified with a clipped adipose fin located near the tail — while ensuring that wild salmon listed on the Endangered Species Act are released unharmed.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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There are two places in Puget Sound where salmon fishing waxes while other opportunities wane.

In northern and central Puget Sound summer anglers target hatchery chinook — which are identified with a clipped adipose fin located near the tail — while ensuring that wild salmon listed on the Endangered Species Act are released unharmed.

"We're seeing a big jump in participation in both of those selective fisheries," said Pat Pattillo, special assistant to the director of state Fish and Wildlife and head policy salmon coordinator. "People look forward to pounding the water each summer, and it's by far the most successful Puget Sound fishery we've got right now."

Last summer both areas were open July 16 to Aug. 31, and lured more than 64,928 anglers who caught 4,880 hatchery chinook. The hatchery mark rate in northern Puget Sound was 68.5 percent, and in central Puget Sound it was 78.8 percent.

The highest catch occurred in northern Puget Sound Aug. 8-11 when 2,068 anglers caught 215 hatchery chinook and released 275. In central Puget Sound it was Aug. 1-4 when 1,943 anglers took home 3,020 and released 305.

"This is definitely a keeper fishery and we know how popular it is, plus we're also looking at ways to augment it to other areas in the future," Pattillo said.

Those in the sport fishing industry believe these types of fisheries continue to raise participation and generate money while protecting wild fish runs.

"This is a big boost for the sport fishing economy, and it has a multimillion dollar ripple effect," said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association and state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing advisory board member.

"We believe and hope it's the long term trend, and the way it is supposed to work by having people fish for hatchery salmon and stimulating the economy in all corners," Floor said.

Another positive factor is people can set their time on the water months in advance.

"It is a big deal for people to plan their fishing vacations whether that occurs in the summer or winter," Floor said. "Knowing that you'll be fishing on a specific date is important."

Since the selective fishery began in central and northern Puget Sound in 2007, anglers have learned to follow the rules much better.

"The whole movement of following selective fisheries rules is going in the right direction," Floor said. "We've come a long ways with compliance, and now we're to a point where a higher percentage of anglers abide by the rules, and know the difference between a wild and a hatchery fish."

This jump toward selective fisheries began in the late 1990s when fisheries managers used it in the ocean to target huge numbers of hatchery-marked coho that were returning each summer to the Columbia River.

Since then it has expanded into many other areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including estuary and river fisheries. Fisheries managers have also used it for many years in steelhead fisheries.

"It is the most important tool in the sport fishing toolbox for conservation of wild fish," Floor said. "This is by no means a way to convert all fisheries to selective, but to just use it where conservation is necessary."

This year's season starts in mid-July, with exact dates expected to be established in April.

Notes

• The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at the Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday through Jan. 29 for public and private school educational programs.

The center also hosts guest speakers during specific times, and on Sundays there are Eagle information and guided walks along the Skagit River through the Howard Miller Steelhead Park. Details: www.skagiteagle.org or 360-853-7626.

• Mountain Madness, Inc. is offering avalanche awareness clinics in association with the Friends of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center. The informational clinic is open to all winter recreationists. Dates: Jan. 10, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Seattle REI store; Jan. 9, 6:30-8 p.m. at Second Ascent in Seattle; Jan, 12, 6-8 p.m. at the Evo store in Seattle; and Feb. 15, 7-8:30 p.m. at the REI store in Tukwila. Details: www.mountainmadness.com.

• The Roche Harbor's Salmon Classic Invitational is Feb. 2-4 at Roche Harbor Marine & Resort on San Juan Island. Limited to 100 boat limits (four anglers per boat). First place is $10,000. Cost is $700, plus sales tax $54.60, which includes moorage and angler's dinner all three nights. Details: 360-378-5562 or email at market@rocheharbor.com.

• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.

• Mount St. Helens climbing permits are on sale. Cost is $22. Permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet. Details: 360-891-5007 or www.mshinstitute.org.

• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club holds weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25 or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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