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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 6, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Salmon fishing heating up, but weather is a downer off the coast

Just got back into the office and I’m playing catch up after spending a week with a bunch of great kids from the Seattle Buddhist Church Boy Scout Troop 252 at Camp Parsons in Hood Canal. We even got some of them their fishing or Fish and Wildlife management merit badges.

But, now I’ve got all the reports in order and the saltwater salmon fishing scene has been good in some places and well lousy in others with bad weather being the main factor.

The much anticipated inner-Elliott Bay salmon fishery opened last Friday with 115 boats and 260 anglers catching just 19 chinook and one coho. Now in terms of kings caught that is downright slow, but the good news is that 80 percent of those fish were adult kings.

“It is pretty slow except for Friday when there was a little perk of fish,” said Pete Sergeef, a state Fish and Wildlife sampler at the Don Armeni ramp in West Seattle. “The good signs is that we are seeing more adult fish and not the blackmouth clearance fishery that usually happens when it first opens. The biggest fish were 18 and 20 pounds. It will only get better later this month.”

The inner-Elliott Bay salmon fishery is open Fridays to Mondays of each week.

On the coast, the strong winds and bad seas continue to wreak havoc on the fisheries, but coastwise charter operators and private boat anglers say the fish are our there it’s just a matter of getting to them.

“It was snotty and windy [Sunday], and many of the boats headed south and got their limits of mostly coho before the winds picked up,” said Mark Cedergreen, the president of the Westport Charter Association. “A few boats who stayed up at the South Bowl area didn’t have the limits like the folks down south but they had more kings in catches.”

Cedergreen said charters averaged about a fish and half per rod, and most were coho. The kings were closer to Westport and most were fishing a true west line of Grays Harbor.

“There is a lot of fish in the ocean and once things settle down and we get some consistency we are going to have some good fishing,” Cedergreen said. “The water has changed color at least once, but by Wednesday we should see a more gentle current and no wind so the fish may drift this way, plus there is a lot of feed out there.”

Up north at La Push, Eric Crust, a state Fish and Wildlife technician was fishing and couldn’t keep a fish off her line, and said the coho were everywhere.

“They were surface fishing and using downriggers, and just got tons of coho,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Neah Bay fishing is really good for small coho [3 to 4 pound average] and they are catching them everywhere, and the pinks are just starting to show up.”

Beeghly said anglers are Ilwaco are nailing the coho too, but they to have suffered from the bad weather blues.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife creel sampler, reported some good king fishing at Sekiu.

“It was pretty close to a chinook per boat average, and a few small coho are showing up but very few pinks,” Bennett said. “I saw a few nice chinook up in the 20 to 25 pound range.”

“It was foggy on the Fourth of July, and that messed things up,” Bennett said. “It is weird with Coho Resort being closed down, and unless they buy the permit out there and I only four campers. That has pushed all the effort to Van Riper’s and Olsons’s resorts. Overall effort was down from what I thought it would be for the weekend, and it seems like people kind of held off some and are waiting to come out.”

A check from July 5, at Olson’s Resort showed 90 boats with 220 anglers catching 81 chinook, 34 coho and 11 pinks.

Locally, the hottest spot for kings is the San Juan Islands.

“I’ve limited the boat everyday and we haven’t fished past noon,” said Jay Field, owner of Dash One Charters in Anacortes. “It sure has been special and I’ve put five kings in the boat over 20 pounds, and [Sunday] I fished alone and got a 28 pounder, plus we are sorting through fish and getting plenty of chances.”

Rosario Strait has been the place Field says, and “I see the all the island guys over here so I know there is nowhere else to fish in the islands, and I haven’t heard anything from up north.”

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