The state Department of Fish & Wildlife has closed the marine fishery for pink salmon in Skagit Bay and surrounding waters.

The closure was prompted by low returns of the fish, which are making their way up the Skagit River to spawn.

The closure is for Marine Area 8-1, which extends from Deception Pass south to include Skagit Bay and Saratoga Passage between Camano and Whidbey islands.

Those waters are a major route for salmon making their way from the Pacific Ocean back to the Skagit River watershed to reproduce.

There is no fishery for pink salmon in the Skagit River, increasing the likelihood of spawning success in the river and tributary streams.

The marine fishery was slated to run Aug. 1 through Oct. 31, but closed Aug. 17 due to the low returns.

The low returns aren’t entirely a surprise, as the forecast released early this year showed poor returns were anticipated for both Skagit River pink and chum salmon.

Returns have also been low for sockeye salmon that return to Baker Lake via the Skagit River.

As of the last update on Fish & Wildlife’s Baker Lake Sockeye webpage, fish were still trickling into the trap at Lower Baker Dam. The total count at the trap on Aug. 19 was about 12,900 — the lowest tally since 2013.

Anglers have reported few catches at the lake due to the low numbers, with about 4,300 having been moved from the trap to the lake.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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