BREAKING: Waters off Neah Bay will reopen June 20 just in time for the all-coastal chinook fishery, and the entire coast opens for halibut on Aug. 6 Leave a reply

Jun 12, 2020 by Mark Yuasa

Just got word that the northern coast off Neah Bay (Marine Catch Area 4) will reopen for fishing on June 20 just in time for the chinook fishing season that begins June 20-28 off the entire coast from Neah south to Ilwaco.

The Makah Reservation including the marinas and all services remains closed to visitors. Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation is the direct boat access to Marine Area 4, and due to the closure anglers will need to access the waters from Sekiu or other access points. The Quileute Reservation at La Push also remains closed to the public.

“Anglers fishing in Marine Area 4 but returning to other coastal ports will need to make sure that they’re sticking to limits and following the rules for that area,” said Larry Phillips, coastal region director with WDFW. “That means they can’t get their limit in Marine Area 4, then head over to Marine Area 5 and continue fishing. These rules are necessary to respect local communities’ wishes and help keep people safe, while also supporting conservation and management objectives.”

During the coastal chinook fishery there will be a one salmon daily limit and release coho. Salmon fishing for chinook and hatchery coho will then be open daily beginning June 29 through Sept. 30 or until the sub-quota is achieved at Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay. Westport will be open June 29 through Sept. 30 – salmon fishing will be allowed Sundays to Thursdays only – or until the sub-quota is achieved. The coast is also open for bottomfish such as lingcod and rockfish except for halibut.

At Neah Bay (Area 4) the sport quota is 2,760 hatchery-marked coho and 5,600 chinook; La Push (3) is 690 hatchery-marked coho and 1,300 chinook; Westport (2) is 9,800 hatchery-marked coho and 12,460 chinook; and Ilwaco (1) is 13,250 hatchery-marked coho and 7,000 chinook.

A good gauge for anglers to keep tabs on is non-tribal commercial troll fishery, which began on May 6 (with a 13,820 catch quota) and has been fairly slow through this week due to weather issues.

“It was still really slow and six boats last week only caught 32 fish,” said Wendy Beeghly, the WDFW coastal salmon manager.

In all, 430,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River in 2020 compared to a forecast of 340,400 and an actual return of 375,700 in 2019 and 365,600 and 290,900 in 2018.

The meat and potatoes are the upriver bright chinook of 233,400 (158,400 and 212,200 in 2019 and 200,100 and 149,000 in 2018). The lower river “tule” hatchery chinook (a driver for ocean salmon fisheries) is predicted at 51,000 (down from a forecast 54,500 but up from actual return of 48,900 in 2019 and 62,400 and 50,400 in 2018).

Anglers shouldn’t expect much for coho off the coast this summer as the forecast is 268,700 compared to a preseason forecast of 1,009,600 last year and an actual return of 408,100 in 2019 (forecast in 2018 was 349,000 and an actual larger return of 230,700).

The Columbia River early coho forecast is 130,700 (545,000 was forecast in 2019 and actual return was 191,400); late coho is 50,300 (360,600 and 106,100); and Oregon coast natural coho is 83,000 (76,100 and 107,600).

The coastal halibut fishery was also approved and fishing will begin Aug. 6  off Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Ilwaco.

“While we realize August is still a ways out, we also want to be open with anglers who we know are eager to plan halibut trips this summer,” said Heather Hall, WDFW’s intergovernmental ocean policy coordinator. “We’ve worked hard to develop an approach that will help maximize anglers’ time on the water, bring that economic value back, and continue to keep everyone safe.”

Hall added that the delayed fishery may benefit halibut anglers and their families since ocean conditions should be better in August than when the fishery usually opens in May.

These dates are tentative and subject to change due to impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

WDFW is proposing coastal halibut fishing for the following dates and areas:

North Coast (Marine Areas 3 and 4): Opens Thursday, Aug. 6. The fishery in this area will be open three days per week, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Aug. 6 through Sept. 30 or until the quota is taken.

South Coast (Marine Areas 1 and 2): Open Thursday, Aug. 6. Then, beginning Aug. 13, open two days per week, Thursdays and Sundays, through Sept. 30 or until the quota is taken. If catch and effort is tracking slower than anticipated, additional days may be added. Proposed additional dates are Friday, Aug. 28Friday, Sept. 4; and Friday, Sept. 11.

Your comment