North Puget Sound: Winter has arrived, and with it come opportunities to hook blackmouth salmon in Puget Sound and steelhead in area rivers.
The San Juan Islands traditionally reward salmon fishers with some of the highest catches of blackmouth salmon during winter months. There or elsewhere, its always advisable to check Puget Sound creel reports on WDFWs website to see where the fish are biting. Samplers collect the information each week at fishing access sites throughout the Sound.
Waters open for salmon fishing throughout January include marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), and Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Anglers fishing those marine areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook salmon.
Anglers fishing Edmonds Fishing Pier in Marine Area 9 have a two-salmon limit with only one marked or unmarked chinook allowed. The rest of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) opens for salmon fishing Jan. 16, with a two-salmon daily limit, but anglers must release wild chinook salmon.
Anglers support the blackmouth winter chinook fishery through their license purchase, a portion of which goes to the Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Fund. The fund currently supports a variety of recreational fishing opportunities through the release of more than one million yearling and almost nine million sub-yearling chinook each year.
In freshwater, the Nisqually River is open to fishing for chum and coho salmon through the end of the month.
Several rivers are also open for hatchery steelhead fishing including the Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie and Green rivers.
The limit for most of these rivers is two hatchery steelhead, however the limit has increased to three on the Cascade from the Rockport-Cascade Road downstream to the mouth.
Anglers should find opportunities to land bright fish through the month, said Bob Leland, steelhead program manager for WDFW. For details on recent rule changes in effect for Whatcom Creek, the Nooksack River, Tokul Creek and the Cascade River see WDFWs freshwater rule change page. Be sure to also check the fishing pamphlet for area and date restrictions on steelhead fishing.
Winter is also prime time to jig for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier.
The Puget Sound crab fishery closes Dec. 31 and crabbers are reminded that they are required to report their winter catch to WDFW by Feb. 1. Reports are due for the winter season, whether or not crabbers actually fished or caught Dungeness crab.
To submit catch reports, crabbers may send their catch record card to WDFW by mail or file their reports through the departments website. The mailing address is WDFW Fish Program Card Report Card Office, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.