Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group — Lorne Balanko casts his line Thursday at Bush Point. Atlantic salmon from the recent net pen failure have been reportedly caught in the area, as well as other places around Whidbey.

State encourages anglers to hit the beach for Atlantic salmon after net pen failure

After the recent net pen failure that resulted in the release of over 300,000 Atlantic salmon, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is encouraging people to catch as many of the non-native fish as they can.

Although the release happened at Crooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island location near Anacortes, there have been reports of Atlantic salmon caught in a variety of locations across Whidbey Island.

There is currently no size or catch limit on the species in an effort to protect the native Pacific salmon population.

“We certainly don’t want them to compete with our natural fish for food or spawning habitat,” said Ralph Downes, Fish and Wildlife game warden on Whidbey.

The Lummi Nation declared a state of emergency on Thursday in response to the situation.

In a statement, Timothy Ballew II, chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council, encouraged all tribal fishermen to continue fishing the waters through the weekend to remove as many of the fish as possible.

Anglers hoping to catch the fish can use the same lures employed for catching Pacific salmon, such as Buzz Bombs. Downes said lures often used for trout, such as small spinners or spoons, can also be used.

“They’re used to being hand-fed on a routine basis,” he said. “They’re pretty anxious to bite anything that might resemble food.”

Atlantic salmon have reportedly been caught at Bush Point and even as far south as Clinton. Fishers at Bush Point said people have found success there in the early morning and evenings.

Angler Lorne Balanko said he thought it was “amazing” the fish made it to Bush Point so quickly.

“It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out,” said Balanko.

Fish and Wildlife said in a statement that the released fish are safe to eat. Anglers must have a valid fishing license and must observe gear regulations but don’t have to report Atlantic salmon on their catch record cards.

WDFW posted a salmon identification guide on their webpage at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/atlantic.html so fishers knowwhat to look for.

More in News

Man facing prison for sexual assault

A former South Whidbey man faces a prison term for sexually assaulting… Continue reading

Nortier leaving Island Transit

Executive director deboarding bus system next month

Crumpled napkin discovered in shoe | Island Scanner

The following items were selected from reports made to the Island County… Continue reading

Rapist sent to prison

An Oak Harbor woman who was chased by a man with a… Continue reading

Girl Scouts make emergency kits

South Whidbey just got better prepared for an emergency. On Aug. 29,… Continue reading

Whidbey Island Grown Week spotlights Maxwelton Valley

Annual tour features farms, produce, wine, spirits

Settlement reached with former police chief

Marks to receive $80,000, resigned Sept. 7

Getting ex-cidered!

Cider Festival features food, fun and Muscle and Arm Farm

Musical tributes to honor DjangoFest founder

‘Forever and ever, this will be Nick Lehr’s festival’

Most Read