Puget Sound salmon fishing opportunities are truly in the tank! Recently it has been suggested by some that we at Fish Northwest are pushing a negative narrative in an attempt to increase our membership. This is pretty hilarious when one considers the current reality of saltwater salmon fishing opportunities in Puget Sound. The fact is, due to quotas and season cuts demanded by the treaty tribes (primarily the Stillaguamish) and agreed to by WDFW, Puget Sound fishing opportunities are in the tank across the board when compared to just five years ago. No amount of lipstick on that pig will change this. But hey, why take my word for it when a quick google search will reveal all one needs to know. For the moment though, let me save you a few keystrokes and we’ll take a look at the most glaring example of this travesty: Marine Area 7, the largest marine area in all of Puget Sound. Also, bear in mind that winter blackmouth seasons were typically set for 4- 5 months but were often closed much earlier due to sub-legal or native fish encounters.
For the 2016 – 2017 season, MA-7 was open for salmon fishing Dec – April & July – Oct. Totaling 9 months.
For the 2017 – 2018 season, MA-7 was open for salmon Jan – April & July – Sept. Totaling 7 months.
For the 2018 – 2019 season, MA- 7 was open for salmon Jan – April 15th & July- Sept. Totaling 6.5 months.
For the 2019 – 2020 season, MA-7 was open for salmon Feb – April 15th & July and Sept. Totaling 4.5 months.
For the 2020 – 2021 season, MA-7 was open for salmon fishing Feb- April 15th, July, Aug 16 -31 & Sept. Totaling 5 months,
– For the first time, MA-7 was placed on a summer quota of 1562 chinook.
– Retention was reduced to one hatchery chinook per day.
For the 2021 – 2022 season, MA-7 was set to open for salmon fishing in July – Sept. The entire season was closed after just 7 days, and will remain closed. –
Again, MA-7 was placed on a quota, reduced this time to 1382 chinook.
– Retention was again set at one hatchery chinook per day.
– The 2021 – 2022 winter blackmouth seasons were completely eliminated.
We invite you to do the same analysis for the Marine Area you most often fish. All the regulations going back many years are there for your perusal. It will take about fifteen minutes. Perhaps in doing so you will discover the complete elimination of the winter blackmouth seasons in Marine Area’s 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, and 9. You see this is not some trumped-up negative narrative, but reality. Of course, when facing all these closures a great alternative would be to simply turn your back on Puget Sound, trailer your boat, and head to the coast for some of that red-hot coho fishing!
Do we want to increase our membership? You bet we do. Through legal action we already forced NMFS and Director Susewind to acknowledge the state is entitled to, and able to obtain, its own Section 7 permit. However, we are still in a fight to halt the in-river overharvest of native fish, which is putting the overall survival of Puget Sound chinook in jeopardy, and to restore the 50/50 balance back to harvest allocation. Please consider donating. Brett RossonFish Northwest