For now Mother Nature and this high pressure building off our coast has gotten the best of the coastal salmon fishing season since it opened this past weekend,
But, once this passes anglers can be assured that plenty of action lies in the ocean all summer long.
“Wind: Great for windmills, but not always so great for catching fish,” said Mark Cedergreen, president of the Westport Charterboat Association. “Westport’s opener was pretty decent considering the strong northwest wind that spanned most of the late morning and afternoon. Some boats caught their limits of salmon. Some caught around a fish per person. The difference being the “hardiness” of the anglers on board. When the weather quiets down in a day or so we should be experiencing some great fishing.”
At Westport on Sunday, state Fish and Wildlife samplers said the overall average was 0.85 fish per person with 263 coho and 57 chinook checked in, plus a couple of pinks.
“It was blustery on Sunday, and today it was even a little worse on the ocean with 10 foot swells and 2 to 3 feet of wind chop,” said Larry Giese with the Westport Charterboat Association. “As soon as this weather calms down we should have some slam bang fishing.”
Down south at Ilwaco, nobody got out on Monday except for one charter boat that limited, but Sunday’s opener was very good.
“We had limits of some really nice coho, and the fish appeared to be about 2 pounds than they should for this time of the year,” said Butch Smith, president of the Ilwaco Charter Association. “There is baitfish as far as you can see, and there appeared to be a lot of coho and a few chinook. We ran about 8 to 10 miles out.”
Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who got back today (June 29) from Ilwaco reported that on Sunday the average was 1.8 fish per rod with 240 coho and seven chinook checked.
“The fishing seemed to be pretty easy for them at Ilwaco on Sunday, although weather was also issue on Sunday and today (June 29) too,” Beeghly said. “The coho averaged about 3 to 5 pounds. I think it will be good once the weather clams down.”
To the north at La Push and Neah Bay, fishing on Saturday was pretty good but by Sunday the weather started to make it tough.
“At La Push they averaged 1.75 fish per person, and the fish were everywhere from Cake Rock on out,” said Scott Barbour, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
At La Push, state Fish and Wildlife checked 102 anglers with 165 coho and seven chinook. The coho averaged 5 to 6 pounds.
On northern most tip of the coast at Neah Bay, anglers found plenty of coho and a few chinook.
The ramp checks showed 223 anglers with 117 coho, 51 chinook and nine pinks. The coho were somewhat smaller averaging 3 to 4 pounds.
“Guys who did the best were out at Table Top where you couldn’t keep the coho off, and those who did better on chinook were right off the green can at Waadah Island right at daylight,” Barbour said. “The biggest king I saw was 28 pounds.”
Barbour says there are a lot of fish in both Areas 3 and 4, but maybe not a ton in the Strait of Juan de Fuca just yet.
“It is looking good up north, and I except it to only get better,” Barbour said. “I talked with some guys who fished up in Canada for halibut and they said the coho were really thick.”
The ocean sport quota is 176,400 hatchery coho and 20,500 chinook, compared to last season’s 20,000 coho and 20,000 chinook.
Westport is open Sundays to Thursdays, then open daily starting July 24. Ilwaco is open daily for salmon. Neah Bay and La Push are open Tuesdays to Saturdays only, and then open daily starting July 18.
Westport, Neah Bay and La Push will close Sept. 20 or until the quota is achieved. Ilwaco will close Sept. 30 or until the quota is achieved.
The daily limit off the coast will be two salmon of which only one may be a chinook. Neah Bay will also have a bonus bag limit of two pink salmon, and Westport will get an additional one pink in the daily limit.
(Photo courtesy of the Westport Charterboat Association)