Best practices for selecting salmon fishing gear

The types of gear anglers use will help minimize impacts on the Puget Sound Chinook population

Gear selection has become an important factor when it comes to recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound.

A key role in angler success is choosing the proper lure or bait, but gear also has an important role in fisheries management. Currently, there are no gear restrictions for recreational salmon fisheries, other than using single barbless hooks.

However, anglers can make wise choices about the types of gear they are using, which in turn could potentially minimize the impact on sub-legal or undersized Chinook and can help preserve future fishery opportunities.

This is particularly true when fishing in the fall and winter seasons, when sub-legal Chinook are observed in higher numbers. The minimum “keeper” size limit for Chinook is 22-inches in most Puget Sound marine areas.

In both fall and winter fisheries, and early in the season, anglers are encouraged to use larger-profile plugs, hoochies (plastic squid), bucktails or spoons and bait — green, blue, or purple label (6- to 9-inch) frozen herring instead of the smaller firecracker-size red and orange label (3- to 5-inch).

Learn more with our video:

Gear study underway

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fishery managers began a gear study during the winter of 2021 in conjunction with WDFW and comanager test fishing boats.

The primary goal of the gear study is to better understand the relationship between gear type, gear size, and hook size and the size of Chinook caught in recreational fisheries.

Fisheries managers can use this data to inform management decisions that can help mitigate sublegal encounters in recreational fisheries, particularly when sublegal fish are more prevalent.

In conjunction with this study, WDFW fisheries managers are also launching an online public survey to provide up to date information on gear choices among the angling public.

Information collected during the gear survey will be used to advise and ensure that sound wide, test fisheries are accurately mimicking the recreational fishing fleet.

By completing the survey, Puget Sound salmon anglers are helping to inform future fisheries management. Anglers can access the gear survey on the WDFW website. The survey will be open for comment through this fall and early winter.

Look for future updates from WDFW fishery managers on gear selection survey results. For additional information go to the WDFW recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound webpage.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.