Salmon fishing may open early at Possession

"Can we fish?Check with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to find out if shore fishing at Possession will be legal on Saturday, Aug. 26. The number is 360-902-2717. The information could be available as early as Wednesday or as late as Friday. The South Whidbey Record will also post the decision here on its Web site when it becomes available.Plans are in the works to open a special shore-angler-only salmon fishery at Possession Point this Saturday if Indian tribes give their approval.The area in front of Possession Point Bait Company was not scheduled to open until Sept. 16 this year -- some six weeks after the traditional Aug. 1 opening.As a result, anglers have had to watch as coho salmon returned to the area of the Bait Company pond which the fish consider their home. The pond is the site of a salmon enhancement project sponsored by the Whidbey Island Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.Normally in August, the Bait Company property is lined with anglers. Not only does it provide recreation, but it boosts the local economy as anglers buy herring, lures and other fishing supplies.Earlier this year, the tribes asked for a later recreational fishing season in the area and regulators agreed to the request. But the tribes may not even have known about the small Possession shore fishery, according to state Rep. Dave Anderson, D-Clinton.Ever since local anglers started complaining about the late opener this year at Possession, Anderson has been working on the problem. Politics helped advance his cause. John McCoy, an official with the Tulalip Tribes near Marysville, is a fellow Democrat and is running for the other 10th District House seat, the one presently held by Langley Republican Kelly Barlean.Anderson said Monday that McCoy has assured him that the Tulalips have no objection to anglers fishing from shore at Possession, and also the nearby Possession Point Waterfront Park. The extended season would not apply to boat fishermen -- they will have to wait for the Sept. 16 opener as described in the state rules pamphlet, Fishing in Washington.The Swinomish tribe has also agreed to the shore fishery, Anderson said, as has the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.The last obstacle occurs today, Wednesday, when the matter will likely be brought before a panel of all 19 treaty tribes at Sand Point. Fisheries will present the proposal, Anderson said. They don't expect a problem. The skids are greased for the tribes' approval. The Possession fishery will be a minor item on the tribes' agenda.Dick Geist, Fish and Wildlife manager, said Tuesday that the situation is still uncertain. It's a possibility, he said of Saturday fishing. If by the end of the week all the ducks are in a row.Anderson said that shore fishing at Possession never should have been delayed because the targeted fish are hatchery raised coho. A lot of it's just a lack of communication, quite frankly, he said.A final decision on the fishery may not come until later in the week, but Anderson said he was 90 percent sure there will be a fishery at Possession. "

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