Chinook run underway in Puget Sound, large fish being reported

The winter run of Chinook, or blackmouth salmon, is underway in Puget Sound with reports of fish as large as 10 pounds being reeled in.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife year’s salmon run started later than usual, Feb. 1, as opposed to the usual January start time, and is expected until the end in March.

The season could end early if the maximum number of fish are caught, whether they are kept or released.

Fishing has opened up for areas near the San Juan islands, East Juan de Fuca Strait, Deception Pass, Hope Island, Port Susan, Port Gardner, Admiralty Inlet and Seattle-Bremerton.

According to Fish and Wildlife Officer Ralph Downes, the late start was necessary to compensate for previous years reaching the fish quota early, Downes said.

This year’s guidelines limit anglers to one salmon encounter per day.

The salmon have to be 22 inches in length and from a hatchery to be retained.

A hatchery fish can be identified by its missing adipose fin near its tail.

The blackmouth salmon is a residential Chinook salmon that stays in the Puget Sound waters, unlike the traditional salmon which returns to its nesting place to lay eggs.

The blackmouth is generally caught by more experienced fishers because a boat with downriggers is usually required, Downes said.