First fishing season underway

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The March 1 fishing opener is upon us. Lakes opening yesterday included Martha, Nunnally, Lenice, Lenore, Merry, Quincy. There are bait and daily limits on some of these lakes, so study the regulations. Where bait is allowed, PowerBait will be the most common used, but, certainly, worms and eggs will catch fish.

Have fun, but be careful out there.

Salmon fishing facing restrictions

Darn. After passing along good salmon-fishing news last week, the opposite is coming from Fish and Wildlife this week. It is as if there has been an about-face in salmon fishing. Read on.

Projected poor returns of several salmon stocks are expected to limit fishing opportunities in Washington’s waters this year, state salmon managers announced today.

Forecasts for chinook, coho, sockeye, and chum salmon, developed by Fish and Wildlife and treaty Indian tribes, were released during a public meeting in Olympia.

The forecast meeting marks the starting point for crafting 2018 salmon-fishing seasons in Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Washington coastal areas.

Fishery managers have scheduled a series of public meetings through early April before finalizing seasons later that month.

Fish and Wildlife said numerous salmon runs are expected to be lower this year compared to last season, including several key chinook and coho stocks. As a result, a number of fishing opportunities from Puget Sound south to the Columbia River will likely be restricted.

The low salmon returns are the result of a variety of factors, including another year of poor ocean conditions.

Columbia River

Roughly 236,500 “upriver brights” are expected to return to areas of the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam. That is down more than 50 percent from the most recent 10-year average.

An estimated 286,200 coho are projected to return to the Columbia River this year, down nearly 100,000 fish from the 2017 forecast. About 279,300 actually returned last year to the river, where some coho stocks are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Some salmon fisheries in the Columbia River will likely be more restrictive than last year.

Washington’s ocean waters

A lower return of coho and chinook to the Columbia River, combined with a poor forecast of coho returning to the Queets River, will likely mean further restrictions to Washington’s ocean salmon fishery as compared to last year.

This year’s forecast of about 112,500 hatchery chinook expected to return to the Columbia River is down more than 50 percent from last year’s forecast. Those hatchery chinook are the backbone of the recreational ocean fishery.

Puget Sound

The expected return of 557,150 Puget Sound coho is down about 6 percent from the 10-year average. Very low returns to certain areas, such as the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Snohomish River, could limit salmon fishing in those regions.

While the 2018 forecast of 227,400 Puget Sound hatchery chinook is up 38 percent from last year, continued low returns of ESA-listed wild chinook to some rivers will limit fisheries this year.

Alpen going out of business

Alpen Outdoors, makers of quality rifle scopes, binoculars and spotting scopes are ceasing all operations after 22 years in business. They closed the doors yesterday.

Sad news, as we were friends with the owners, Vicki and Tim Gardner. They claim a difficult business climate and family health issues as the reason.

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