OLYMPIA - With the peak of the Samish River chinook salmon run fast approaching, state fishery managers have agreed to extend the Skagit County fishery from Sept. 9 through Nov. 30.
The strong run of 47,000 hatchery-raised chinook salmon expected to return to the river this year should have made that decision easy, said Annette Hoffmann, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
A tougher assessment was whether anglers fishing the river are heeding the department's warnings about illegal snagging, trespassing on private property, littering and other unacceptable behavior, Hoffmann said. Those issues have been a problem for a number of years, she said.
In response, WDFW made the second half of the Samish River salmon season subject to changes in anglers' behavior.
"We have seen greater compliance in some areas, but there's still room for improvement," Hoffmann said about this year's fishery. "We don't want to punish anglers who act responsibly and follow the rules, but the length of this season still depends on our ability to maintain an orderly fishery."
WDFW Enforcement Captain Mike Hobbs said enforcement officers will continue to patrol the area as long as the fishery remains open.
"We expect anglers on any river, not just the Samish, to respect the fishing rules, landowners and other anglers on our state's waterways," Hobbs said.
In another effort to reach anglers, the department produced a four-minute video - which has received more than 1,300 views - outlining the issues on the Samish and explaining how to catch chinook salmon legally and effectively. It is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwGiaKCVHHE.
The daily limit on the Samish is two salmon per day, which may only be retained if they are legally hooked in the mouth. A night closure is in effect, and only one single-point hook is allowed.