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 so fishers knowwhat to look for.

More in News

Roll the dice for charity at bunco event

Guild 21 of Providence General Children’s Association is hosting its 14th annual… Continue reading

Community weaves together fundraiser after fiber theft

In late February, Lydia Christiansen and her husband Alan woke up to… Continue reading

Navy extends comment period on special ops training

The area where the Navy conducts special operations training may be expanded… Continue reading

School violence topic of public forum

Students to lead discussion at WICA talk

Beyond the classroom

Waldorf students match with mentors for life lessons

Teenager sentenced for house fire

A teenager who accidentally started a fire that destroyed a Honeymoon Bay… Continue reading

Port gets $500k for parking lot in Mukilteo

Curt Gordon’s decade-long mission to build a parking lot is finally getting… Continue reading

Goat University not kidding around

Covering goats from head to tail

Ignacio Rivera appears in Island County Superior Court.
Man accused of biting off part of victim’s ear

A South Whidbey love triangle led to “a brutal beating” in which… Continue reading

Most Read