Frequently Asked Questions

Case Inlet Fisheries Task Force “FAQ’s

7/22/2022

What is the purpose of the Case Inlet Fisheries Task Force today:  

We are volunteers working to restore Case Inlet’s salmon populations.  Our goal is to benefit our natural and economic ecosystems including Orcas, Tribes, fishermen, local communities and businesses.

Why was the Case Inlet Fisheries Task Force formed:

  1. The Task Force was created by a Port of Allyn and Port of Grapeview joint resolution in 2021.

  2. In comparison to previous years when the hatchery fish were released into Case Inlet today there are far fewer Chinook salmon available to harvest.

What is the Task Force doing today:

  • Working to build a partnership with the Squaxin Island Tribe so together we can approach the Washington                Department of Fish and Wildlife  to ask for their engagement and support.

  • Reaching out to local legislators to help them understand the current state of the salmon populations in Case Inlet and to educate them on the broad benefits of increasing salmon numbers.

  • Beginning to reach out to community members to get them involved in addressing the challenges we face today.

What can I do to get involved:

Sign up on the website to receive updates or . look for updates on our website at www.caseinletfish.com

Who is on the Task Force:

     Art Whitson – Port of Grapeview Commissioner District 1

     Ted Jackson – Port of Allyn Commissioner, District 2

     Brad Pomroy - Group Facilitator, Stretch Island

     Bob Pastore - Communications Advisor, Stretch Island

     Mark LaRiviere – Fish Biologist Advisor, Pickering Passage

     Jim Hanson – Advisor, North Bay

     Thom Worlund – Education Advisor, Mason County

      Rick Witters – Advisor, Harstine Island

Branding and communication Sub-Committee

       Nika Worlund and Jim Worlund

What is the history and purpose of the Coulter Creek Hatchery:

  • Originally built in 1980 to increase the production of Chum salmon

  • Sometime in the early 1990’s, once the Chum salmon population was replenished, Coulter Creek Hatchery was used to rear, transfer and release Chinook salmon. 

  • The facility has no incubation capability so the eggs are collected, incubated, and hatched at Minter Creek Hatchery. 

  • Today the Coulter Creek Hatchery facility is operational between the months of December thru early May.  It serves as a satellite facility to Minter Creek.  The fry are transferred from Minter Creek to the Coulter Creek Hatchery where they are raised for several months, and then fin clipped to identify them as hatchery reared fish.  After this, they are transferred to Tumwater Falls hatchery for eventual release.

  • Once the salmon are released from a hatchery where do they go? And when do they come back?  Generally, juvenile salmon will hang out along the shorelines or in estuaries to feed and grow larger, then they head to the ocean and on to Alaskan waters.  The salmon return after a couple of years, generally to where they are released, therefore these salmon do not return to the North Bay or Coulter Creek.  

Why was the decision made to stop releasing chinook from Coulter Creek:

  • The WDFW ended the Chinook program in 2002 claiming the returning Chinook salmon were interfering with the Chum population.  There was no attempt to install barriers (as used in other modern facilities) to prevent the hatchery Chinook from entering Coulter Creek. 

  • Coulter Creek water quality in the fall and winter months can become a problem especially if the numbers of fish returning are high. 

  • It was determined by the WDFW to not upgrade Coulter Creek Hatchery but to use it going forward as a rearing and transfer facility supporting the Tumwater facility.

What is the future of the Coulter Creek facility:

We are unsure of the WDFW long term plans for Coulter Creek but we would like to see them invest in the facility so that they can release salmon from the hatchery as they have done in the past.

What salmon species are present today in Case Inlet:

  • Coho (aka Silver), Chinook (King), Blackmouth (resident Chinook all hatchery origin), Chum, and Sea Run Cutthroat (catch and release only)

  • There are both hatchery and wild Coho and Chinook in the Puget Sound.  For the most part all wild (with adipose fin) fish are to be released.

What Whales and Seals are frequently sighted in Case Inlet:

  1. ORCA

    • Southern Resident ORCA usually tracked by Pods i.e. the J and K Pods.  The Southern Resident ORCAs eat Chinook salmon.  Due to the lack of Chinook salmon available in Case Inlet the Southern Resident Pods are rarely seen in this area

    • Transient (Biggs) ORCA populations are frequently seen in Case Inlet.  They eat seals and with an abundance of seals and sea lions in the South Sound theyare often seen in our local waters.  Community members have noticed transients are frequenting our waters much more often than in the past.

  2. Seals:

    • Harbor Seals are in abundance in the South Sound and Case Inlet

    • Sea Lion populations in Case Inlet are rising. 

  3. Other Whales:

    • Gray Whales, Humpback Whales (just recently) , and Minke Whales are visitors to our waters during their migration periods usually in the spring and early summer

  4. Dolphins / Porpoise 

    • Dall’s and Pacific White sided 

  Is there good fishing in Case Inlet

  • There can be productive fishing at times but because of the limited number of salmon, it requires work and varying techniques.

  • Refer To WDFW website for updates on seasons, regulations and closures for Marine Region 13 (South Sound/ Case Inlet)

  Are there places to observe salmon in Case Inlet?

  • In the fall, generally after a couple of heavy rains, Coulter Creek where it flow into Case Inlet

  • Gills Cove where the stream flows under the Grapeview Loop road

  • Stretch Island Bridge at higher tides

  • Sherwood Creek at the Rt. 3 overpass