Salmon overload: California fishermen giving away fish

By The Associated Press
Seattle Times

July 5, 2003

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. Talk about a fish tale.

This year's salmon harvest in the Pacific has been so abundant some already call it the best since a record haul 15 years ago that California commercial fishermen spent yesterday giving away hundreds of the fish.

People lined up early to score the handouts, which included enough of the pink meat to feed a family of four.

The giveaway "is our way of saying thanks to Mother Nature for ... this spectacular harvest," said veteran Half Moon Bay fisherman Duncan MacLean, a spokesman for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

West Coast salmon returns hit bottom in 1994, when the Pacific Fishery Management Council practically had to shut down sport and commercial salmon fishing to keep from wiping out threatened and endangered runs. Over the past three years, however, the population has increased.

This year's take of wild salmon is expected to rival 1988's, when California fishermen pulled up 1.3 million fish.

In an average year, California fishermen catch between 300,000 and 400,000 fish in the Pacific, according to Chuck Tracy of the fishery management council, which regulates sport and commercial fishing in the ocean.

Scientists credit this year's bounty to climatic conditions that enhance levels of algae in the Pacific, a boon that bumps up the food chain to produce more and bigger salmon.

The fish this season have averaged 18 to 20 pounds, up from years past when they weighed about 10 pounds, according to Zeke Grader, another spokesman for the association.

The prolific catch has brought down the wholesale price of salmon to as low as 75 cents a pound.

"I would rather give these fish away to people who would enjoy them than sell them for 75 cents a pound," MacLean said.



Cheap date: free fishing

By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter

July 8, 2003

Anglers or someone looking to hook a friend on fishing will like this weekend freebie.

It's Free Fishing Weekend in Washington, and licenses aren't required.

During the two-day period, no fishing licenses are required to fish for food fish, shellfish or game fish, nor is a vehicle use permit required to use state Fish and Wildlife lands.

Anglers are, however, required to obtain a catch record card available from license dealers and state Fish and Wildlife offices to harvest some species including salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Dungeness crab and halibut.

Be sure to check the sport fishing rules pamphlet available at license dealers and on the Web site at

Parents looking for a good place to take their youngsters during the weekend should consider three juvenile fishing ponds that recently received bonus plants of hatchery rainbow trout.

Chosen for their easy access by juvenile anglers, the three ponds that received additional fish are Wapato Lake in Pierce County, Long's Pond in Thurston County and Sarge Hubbard Park Pond in Yakima County.

Long's Pond and Wapato Lake are open only to juvenile anglers under the age of 15 years. Sarge Hubbard Park Pond is open to juveniles under 15 and disabled anglers with a reduced-fee license.

Top spots of the week

1. Chinook and steelhead in Snohomish and Stillaguamish river systems: The average catch in the Upper Skykomish near Proctor Creek and the Cable Hole below Reiter Ponds was one steelhead caught for every three anglers wetting a line.

At other places in the Skykomish such as the Ben Howard and Afternoon Hole, most boat anglers this week had at least about one steelhead and maybe half a king per boat. The kings caught in the Skykomish were nice, bright colored fish, and the vast majority were marked fish with a missing adipose fin.

2. Shad in Lower Columbia River: "It is now worth the trip down to catch shad," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "Anglers averaged seven shad per rod below Bonneville and there was quite a few fish being caught at Camas and Washougal."

On Sunday, 185,000 shad streamed past the electronic fish counter at Bonneville Dam, and on Monday a commercial fisher got his share of shad in the lower river when they landed 15,000 pounds of shad in 15 minutes.

3. Halibut and bottomfish off the coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca: Charter operators report very good fishing for halibut off Westport and Ilwaco, and the bottomfishing anglers were getting near-limits of lingcod.

Other areas worth trying for halibut are Freshwater Bay, Port Angeles and Sekiu. The Sekiu Halibut Derby is this weekend. Details: 360-963-2334.

4. Trout and warm-water fish in statewide lakes: "Pass Lake continues to give some trout for fly anglers using brown colored chironomid flies," said Kim Weymouth at Skagit Fly Anglers in Mount Vernon.

"We still have some fairly decent trout fishing at Squalicum and Lone lakes," said Mike Chamberlain at Ted's Sports Center in Lynnwood. "Many folks are going east (of the Cascades) and hitting Dry Falls, Lenice, Nunnally, Bobby and Chopaka."

5. Salmon in Southcentral Puget Sound (Area 11): Fishing since the opener has been slow to fair at the Clay Banks and slag pile off Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Point Dalco on the south side of Vashon Island, Dolphin Point on the northeast side of Vashon Island and south of Southworth ferry landing.

Other fishing spots

Icicle Creek: Slow to fair for chinook, but the warm weather will make the river water level swell fast to unfishable conditions.

North-coastal rivers: "The water in all the rivers is evaporating fast with the warm weather and it will make fishing (conditions) tough," said Bob Gooding, owner of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks. "But, all in all fishing has been pretty decent for spring chinook in the Soleduck and Quillayute, and they are getting some steelhead and a few spring chinook in the Hoh."

Skagit River: River has been in poor fishing condition since the Sunday steelhead opener, and will likely remain that way for a while.

Cowlitz River: Fair to good for steelhead.

Kalama River: Fair for steelhead and spring chinook.

Lewis River: Anglers averaged one chinook per every 4.4 rods near the hatchery, while boat anglers averaged one per every three rods.

Drano Lake: Not much fishing pressure at midweek.

Klickitat River: Fair for spring chinook.

Wind River: Fair for spring chinook in the Gorge below Shiperd Falls, but most of the catch and effort was occurring at Milepost 7.

Puget Sound lingcod: "Lings still productive off the tip of Blake Island," said Terry Wiest, a member of the South King County Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

Other places to try are south of Alki Point off the green buoy markers, northwest of Utsalady Point, Point Evans near the Narrows Bridge, Toliva Shoal off Steilacoom, Possession Bar, the west side of Scatchet Head and Edmonds Pier.

Southern Puget Sound: Slow for chinook at Gibson Point, Anderson Island, Ketron Island and Point Fosdick.

Columbia River: Fair for steelhead from Longview downstream. Walleye and bass fishing good in Bonneville Pool, The Dalles Pool and John Day Pool.

Yakima River: "The Yakima was pretty decent on Saturday, and they had a fair number of rainbows up to 20 inches," Chamberlain said.

"They caught the fish on nymphs and the dry flies didn't seem to work. With the warmer weather it's only a matter of time before the river becomes blown out (of fishing shape)."


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