Spot shrimp populations remain decent in most areas as seasons are now being crafted, and those looking for early spring fun should head to year-round lakes already planted with trout Leave a reply
By Mark Yuasa
It’s a great time to live in the PNW especially if you enjoy fishing!
One of those spring-time rites of passage is the thrill of pulling in a pot loaded with giant prawn-size spot shrimp, and anglers can plan on a likely mid-May opening with specific dates being finalized and could come to light very soon.
“There’s lot of indication the spot shrimp season will open on a weekday,” Don Velasquez, a WDFW shellfish manager said. “That decision stems from the fact we blew out some area catch quotas with a weekday opening in 2020, and we assume effort will be at a high level in 2021.”
Spot shrimp are the largest – averaging 8 to 12 inches long – of more than 80 shrimp species in local marine waterways, but only seven are commonly caught by anglers. Most are lurking at depths of 30 to 300 feet.
The highly popular Elliott Bay spot shrimp fishery, located within sight of the Seattle skyline, was open one day in 2020 and could see some adjustments in 2021. During the past month, the WDFW staff and the sport shellfish advisory group were looking at ways to model a catch in Elliott Bay that won’t go over the sport share of the quota.
Dates and hours of fishing per day were still unknown for Hood Canal (Marine Catch Area 12), which was open five days in 2020, and Discovery Bay that had a three-day fishery.
It was unclear how many days of spot shrimp fishing will be provided in eastern Strait (6 outside of Discovery Bay) and San Juan Islands (7 West, 7 South and 7 East) but each area could have multiple back-to-back opening dates in 2021.
The east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2); northern Puget Sound (9); central Puget Sound (10); and south-central Puget Sound (11) were all open one-day last year and may see something similar again in 2021. Open hours of fishing were still undecided.
Southern Puget Sound (13) south of the Narrows Bridge was closed for the 2020 season due to low spot shrimp abundance levels and projections are the same in 2021. Just like last year, fishing will remain open with depth restrictions for other healthy shrimp species.
Velasquez says there was some preseason test fishing conducted in 2021 for spot shrimp abundance and populations look good in all marine areas with the exception of southern Puget Sound (13).
The total spot shrimp sport harvest wasn’t available just yet for 2020, but was 208,223 pounds in 2019 and 194,863 in 2018; and the non-tribal commercial take was 94,651 pounds in 2019 and 97,578 in 2018. The grand total was 302,874 pounds in 2019 and 292,441 in 2018.
Sport and non-tribal commercial fishermen split a 300,000-pound spot shrimp yearly catch quota with 70 percent going to the sport fishery. The tribal fishery has a 300,000-pound catch quota. In 2019, 613,300 pounds was caught by all user groups.
Here’s how anglers fared during the initial opening date(s) in 2020:
Eastside of Whidbey Island (Areas 8-1 and 8-2) – 202 boats with 697 anglers June 11 fished 678 pots (3.36 pots per boat average) and caught 46,044 spot shrimp for 227.94 spot shrimp per boat.
Northern Puget Sound (Area 9) – 69 boats with 231 anglers June 11 fished 242 pots (3.51 pots per boat average) and caught 17,901 spot shrimp for 259.43 spot shrimp per boat; and 92 boats with 287 anglers Aug. 12 fished 286 pots (3.11 pots per boat average) and caught 20,203 spot shrimp for 219.60 spot shrimp per boat.
Elliott Bay – 131 boats with 503 anglers June 11 fished 460 pots (3.51 pots per boat average) and caught 34,137 spot shrimp for 260.59 spot shrimp per boat.
Central Puget Sound (Area 10) – 23 boats with 74 anglers June 11 fished 77 pots (3.35 pot per boat average) and caught 4,901 spot shrimp for 213.09 spot shrimp per boat.
South-central Puget Sound (Area 11) – 85 boats with 278 anglers June 11 fished 289 pots (3.40 pots per boat average) and caught 13,526 spot shrimp for 159.13 spot shrimp per boat.
Hood Canal (Area 12) – 814 boats with 2,849 anglers (includes all-season fishing dates in 2020) fished 2,939 pots (3.61 pots per boat average) and caught 205,266 spot shrimp for 252.17 spot shrimp per boat.
Discovery Bay – 70 boats with 204 anglers (includes all-season fishing dates in 2020) fished 216 pots (3.09 pots per boat average) and caught 13,028 spot shrimp for 186.11 spot shrimp per boat.
Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (Area 6) – 623 boats with 1,722 anglers (includes all-season fishing dates in 2020) fished 1,922 pots (3.09 pots per boat average) and caught 97,919 spot shrimp for 157.17 spot shrimp per boat.
San Juan Island (Area 7 South) – 318 boats with 954 anglers (includes all-season fishing dates in 2020) fished 1,032 pots (3.25 pots per boat average) and caught 63,455 spot shrimp for 199.54 spot shrimp per boat.
San Juan Island (Marine Area 7 East) – 200 boats with 553 anglers (includes all-season fishing dates in 2020) fished 624 pots (3.12 pots per boat average) and caught 29,553 spot shrimp for 147.77 spot shrimp per boat.
San Juan Island (Area 7 West) – 472 boats with 1,360 anglers (includes all-season fishing dates in 2020) fished 1,481 pots (3.14 pots per boat average) and caught 85,337 spot shrimp for 180.80 spot shrimp per boat.
(Note: A reminder that this information is only for the boats interviewed in 2020. The total number of boats, shrimpers, pots, and spot shrimp caught in the fishery are higher than these numbers above reflect.)
Many lakes already planted with trout
Anglers can head out the door right now with thousands of trout already teeming in year-round lakes.
“Folks can get an early start on trout in some of our year-round lakes that’ll be planted in March,” said Justin Spinelli, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Region 4 biologist.
Last year’s early trout season hit a snag when the pandemic threw everything fishing related haywire due to a statewide closure, but anglers can find smooth sailing with many lakes already planted with hungry trout to provide early spring action.
In King County, Green Lake located near Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle received a plant of 6,015 rainbow trout on Wednesday (March 24).
In Snohomish County head to Gissburg Pond North that was planted with 519; Gissburg Pond South, 2,000; Ketchum, 2,001; Lost, 1,530; Roesiger, 3,059; and Panther, 1,518. In Pierce County, Steilacoom Lake received 3,900.
Here are other trout plants that occurred in year-round lakes this week (all are rainbows unless otherwise noted):
Kitsap County – Kitsap, 4,836; Island, 2,006. Island County – Lone, 3,071. Mason County – Lost, 4,901; Trails End, 3,705; Kokanee, 3,000; Tee, 2,700. Grays Harbor County – Sylvia, 100 steelhead. Pacific County – Black, 1,500; Western, 750. Jefferson County – Gibbs, 740. Thurston County – Black, 11,401; St. Clair, 6,000. San Juan Island County – Egg, 633; Hummel, 1,116. Cowlitz County – Kress, 3,420 plus 2,000 browns; Silver, 7,080. Lewis County – Swofford, 10,240; Fort Borst Park, 50 steelhead. Douglas County – Hammond, 2,100; Putters, 3,600; Big Bow, 3,600. Chelan County – Roses, 2,000. Okanogan County – Spectacle, 5,392 (opens April 1).
Below is the total breakdown of trout going into year-round lakes between now and May.
In King County try Alice, 3,600 planted in March to May; Angle, 6,500; Beaver, 6,500; Bitter, 1,500 in May; Boren, 1,500 in May; Deep, 4,000 in May; Dolloff, 2,000 in May; Echo, 1,000 in May; Fenwick, 1,800 in May; Fish, 1,500 in May; Fivemile, 3,200 in May; Green, 11,000 in March to May; Haller, 1,300 in May; Holm, 1,700 in May; Killarney, 2,500 in May; Meridian, 12,000 in March to April; Morton, 5,500 in April; Rattlesnake, 3,500 in March; Sawyer, 3,000 in May; Shadow, 4,500 in May; Spring, 7,000 in April; Star, 3,500 in May; Trout, 1,800 in May; and Twelve, 4,500 in April.
In Island County try Cranberry, 10,000 in April; and Lone, 3,000 in March. In San Juan County try Egg, 600 in March; and Hummel, 1,000 in March. In Skagit County try Clear, 6,000 in April; Grandy, 5,600 in March to May; Pass, 500 in April; and Volger, 1,000 in April.
In Snohomish County try Ballinger, 8,000 in April; Blackmans, 7,000 in April and May; Cassidy, 3,500 in March; Chain, 1,000 in May; Flowing, 7,400 in April and May; Gissburg North, 1,500 in April to June; Gissburg South, 3,000 in April to June; Goodwin, 7,000 from April to January, 2021; Panther, 1,500 in March; Roesiger, 3,000 in April; Shoecraft, 5,000 in April; Silver, 7,000 in April; and Tye, 1,000 in April and May.
The much-anticipated statewide trout fishing opener is April 24-25 where millions more catchable-sized trout averaging 10 to 12 inches will be planted in seasonal lowland lakes.
In the Puget Sound region – King, Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan, Whatcom and Island counties – the projected plant is 445,200catchable-size. Add to it another 150,000-plus “jumbo” trout measuring 14 or more inches long and averaging 1 to 1.5 pounds, plus 5.7-million-plus fingerling and fry trout planted in 2020 that’ll have anglers reeling in plenty of 2021 fun!
The comprehensive WDFW statewide stocking schedule, can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports/stocking/statewide
Nibbles and bites
- The winter chinook fishery at Sekiu in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca has been producing decent catches of fish, 5, to 8 pounds, with some tipping the scales up to 18 pounds. Fishing is open daily through April 30, and is managed as a season, meaning there’s no guideline to shut it down prematurely. The best action has occurred off the Caves and at Slip Point.
- Fishing for lingcod and other bottomfish east of Sekiu in Marine Catch Area 4 off Neah Bay has been very good, and other coastal ports like Westport and Ilwaco report similar happy anglers loading up on bottomfish.
- The lingcod fishery from Sekiu in the Strait clear into Puget Sound (Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 13) are open May 1 through June 15. A one-lingcod daily limit, and a minimum size limit of 26 inches and maximum size of 36 inches are some reasons why their head-count have increased in Puget Sound of late.
- In Snohomish County, the Lake Stevens kokanee fishery is off to a great start with some anglers reporting fast limits. The Lake Roosevelt kokanee fishery is also producing good catches.
- Another overlooked option is southern Puget Sound (Area 13), which is open year-round for hatchery winter chinook. Head to Point Fosdick located south of the Narrows Bridge; Fox Point south to Gibson Point on Fox Island; Lyle Point off Anderson Island; Johnson Point near Zittel’s Marina in Olympia; Thompson Cove north of Lyle Point; shoreline just outside the Narrows Marina; and the Sandspit on northwest side of Fox Island east to Ketner’s Point.