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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 13, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Summer fishing opportunities on the rise

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Space is at a minimum in the paper on what I can report, so here are more fishing reports that I got yesterday and today that you will only see on this blog:

First off from the Columbia River area here is what Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist had to say about the going-on in his neighborhood.

“There is a new record daily count of steelhead at Bonneville Dam – 18,671 fish [Aug. 11]!,” Hymer said. “The previous record that I could find back to when counts began in 1938 was 14,432 fish on August 3, 2001.”

Wow, that is great!

And fishing also seems to be on the rise, which of course is not unexpected.

“Fishing is starting to perk, and it is a fairly decent bite above the [Astoria-Megler] bridge [Wednesday morning],” Hymer said. “The tides are pretty good especially for the chinook bite and with not much tidal exchange and an early morning high water you can expect to find a bite.”

If you didn’t know a 51 pound king was caught of the sand bar at Vancouver of the Lower Columbia River.

“There are some big fish around and in the gill-net fishery we had a mid-20 pound average for kings,” Hymer said. “There is some catch going on at mouth of Lewis and Cowlitz. Drano Lake is over a fish per rod average, and when you add in the wild fish released and fish being caught it is even better. In White Salmon and Wind catches are fairly good. I heard one steelhead at Drano Lake that was 21 pounds, but most are smaller and some could be the bigger B-Run fish.”

Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist says there have been some coho also caught off the North Jetty at the mouth of the Lower Columbia River.

In Puget Sound, catch reports have taken a turn for the better although it is mainly a pink show along with a few kings to make things interesting.

“We hooked 15 pinks this morning but only got two in the boat,” said captain Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Everett. “There are plenty of pinks around, but there is no rhyme or reason, and you get into a school of them and then you don’t.”

“I heard that Humpy Hollow produced really well yesterday [Wednesday], and today [Thursday] it is doing just as good,” Krein said. “We ended up with 13 pinks [off Shilshole yesterday] and got five more in the afternoon.”

One of the most puzzling places where kings are a no show or have passed by mostly uncaught from Port Townsend clear into Puget Sound.

Some theories include the warm weather may have pushed the kings further down into the water column or the shipping lanes, while most anglers targeting them are milling the shorelines.

“I think it is more of a behavioral issue than they don’t exist,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association. “It is the mystery of the summer, and here we are in what is supposed to be a phenomenal season. The only smoking gun is the warm weather drove them further down into the water column.”

“It has been on fire for kings [off West Coast of Vancouver Island], Sekiu was good before it closed for kings [on Aug. 7], and the tribes did well in [Elliott] Bay [more than 4,000 kings caught on Aug. 5].”

“It has been a head scratcher, and there are a lot of mixed signals out there as to what is happening with these chinook,” said Steve Thiesfeld, the head state Fish and Wildlife sport fishing manager. “From everything I’m hearing the Tulalip fishery hasn’t done well, the Snohomish didn’t meet spawning egg take goals, the Skagit summer king fishery wasn’t as productive as anyone had hoped, and Lake Washington chinook are clearly below the 14 year average.”

Thiesfeld says the good king fishing at Sekiu could be Columbia River stocks that dip their noses into the Strait.

“It is obvious that there has been some fairly good ocean conditions out there that has lead to some nice-sized fish being caught, and hope it translate into good survival rates but we just don’t know yet,” Thiesfeld said. “Until we get the escapement numbers we just don’t know how things will shape up. There are some scary signs out there at the moment.”

Thiesfled says it’ll be around Aug. 23 before any updates will be provided that is helpful, and everything up to this point has been preliminary data.

“We are hoping the Lake Washington counts jump, and all of sudden there are fish in all the rivers and all the egg take needs are met, but there are some scary signs out there right now,” Thiesfeld said.

Elliott Bay slowed down from being good on Friday to just fair over this past weekend.

“I’d say it is fair fishing in the bay,” said Peter Sergeef, the state Fish and Wildlife checker at the Armeni boat ramp in West Seattle. “I saw 20 kings for 60 boats [on Monday, Aug. 10], and there are a lot of pinks out there too.”

On Saturday, 205 boats in the bay with 398 anglers had 59 chinook, 21 coho and 100 pinks, and a couple of the kings were over 30 pounds. On Sunday, 183 boats with 387 anglers had 44 chinook, 12 coho and 45 pinks.

The Alki Tavern Salmon Derby in memory of Robert Lilly is Saturday 2 p.m.-7 p.m. in inner-Elliott Bay only. Cost is $20. Details: 206-932-9970. The Hood Canal Salmon Derby is Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $25. Details: www.sschapterpsa.com.

Pier anglers off the Edmonds and Seacrest piers continue to catch some kings and pinks, and the shorelines Dash Point, Deception Pass State Park and Lincoln Park in West Seattle.

The Skagit and Snohomish river systems open this Sunday, Aug. 16, and should be good.

“The Snohomish and the Skagit will open up for pink salmon, and not a lot in the Snohomish system, but last weekend a fair number were taken in the Skagit,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood.

Bryan Nelson at Three River’s Marine and Tackle in Woodinville also reports that the humpies were on the bite big time at places off the west side of Whidbey Island like Bush Point, Lagoon Point and Fort Casey.

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The coastal salmon season remains strong, and so good that La Push is hitting the ceiling on their catch quota.

“La Push looks like it’s reaching their quota, and we’ll have a conference call [today] on what to do there,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “We may look for fish to transfer there from some other areas quota.”

Last week, La Push anglers averaged 1.8 fish per rod with 1,300 coho caught.

“Ilwaco is going gangbusters too [1.7 fish per rod average], and they are approaching their quota too [16,000 coho caught last week],” Beeghly said.

The average at Westport was 1.8 fish per rod, and most charters were getting limits by early morning.

“It has been excellent, and just day after day of limits,” said Mark Cedergreen, president of the Westport Charter Boat Association. “It is the best fishing we’ve had since 2004 or 2005.”

Westport charters are usually booked on the weekends, but space is available during the weekdays.

At Neah Bay anglers averaged 1.6 fish per rod. Tuna fishing is good at Westport and Ilwaco, where Beeghly saw up to eight fish per rod on private boats who were running about 30 to 35 miles from port.

(Photos taken are of Kirk and Jean Calkins of Lynnwood, and family friends from a Westport fishing trip last weekend. The king salmon Kirk caught weighed 43 pounds.)

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