Chinook salmon season is always fun and exciting for anglers, but there are rules to follow to help sustain the population.
This year the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is giving recreational anglers fewer opportunities to fish for Chinook in both the Columbia River and ocean waters compared to recent years. Tribal fisheries also face more restrictions to protect the salmon.
Here are 5 tips to get started:
1. Make sure you have the right license and know where it's legal to fish
You can get a license online or at 600 locations in the state such as Fred Meyer or Outdoor Emporium. Some places like Outdoor Emporium and Sportco have knowledgeable staff who can help you with gear, licenses or even potential information on tides and currents.
2. Get the right gear
If you're at a loss on where to start for gear, state officials have made videos with advice on tackle.
3. Know the different species of fish: Coho vs. Chinook, and wild vs. hatchery
Chinook salmon, also known as King salmon, are the largest of the salmon species. In Marine Areas 9 and 10, you have to throw back wild Chinook.
How can you tell a Chinook is wild? A wild fish has its adipose fin. Hatchery officials remove the adipose fin to help manage the population. It's also helpful to keep a Mac's Field Guide in your boat.
4. Know the season and the limits of what you can keep
In Marine Areas 9 and 10 (Admiralty Inlet and Seattle/Bremerton), you can keep one hatchery Chinook that's at least 22 inches long and two other salmon species, no minimum size.
You also must fill out a Catch Record Card. Chinook season is July 16 - August 15 for Marine Area 9, and July 16 - August 30 for Marine Area 10. However, the season may close earlier if the Chinook quota is met.
5. Know where to go for information quickly