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

Whidbey Queer Pride Parade postponed

May be canceled this year, organizers say

Coupeville ferry loses boat later this month

A complicated confluence of considerations means a cut in service for the… Continue reading

Rep. Larsen adds provisions to Defense Act to address jet noise

The Navy may end up conducting real-time noise monitoring of EA-18G Growler… Continue reading

Conservation Futures grant may help preserve shoreline property

An Island County Commissioner is seeking public input before deciding which land… Continue reading

Backups expected as ferry gets dockside checkup

Just as the tourism season is kicking into high gear, the Clinton-to-Mukilteo… Continue reading

WhidbeyHealth gets good news for budget

Medicare money and swing beds to help hospital’s financial woes

WhidbeyHealth CEO apologizes for Clinton clinic chaos

‘We want to take care of this community’

Clearcut swath on Maxwelton Road will be replanted

State permit allows 16 acres of timber harvest

Chicks perish, goats escape in barn fire Tuesday morning

A heat lamp ignited a fire early Tuesday morning, killing chicks and… Continue reading

Most Read