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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 26, 2009 at 5:00 PM

Pink salmon fishing on fire in Puget Sound, and other areas are going strong too

Salmon fishing is in full swing around western Washington, and the thought on many minds are pink, pink and more pink.

Pink salmon that are migrating into Puget Sound by the millions; OK, to be more precise 5.1-million was the preseason forecast and it looks like we are flush in the face with pinks right now.

“There are tons and tons of stuff going on in the fishing world, and the big news in fishing is everything is coming up pink,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood. “All the areas have great numbers of pinks whether right in front of Edmonds or out on Scatchet Head, Possession Bar and Humpy Hollow.”

“I haven’t seen this much enthusiasm in some years, and there is no lack of excitement going on,” Chamberlain said.

“We are going through a lot of pink jigs and Buzz Bombs, and we ran out yesterday but got more in today,” said Maria Beppu, owner of Linc’s Tackle Shop in Seattle. “It has been just crazy and our customers are finding some pretty good pink fishing.”

There are finally lots of pinks moving into the rivers right now like the Lower Snohomish (very good pink fishing on the evening of Aug. 25), Skagit, Lower Green and Puyallup.

Lots of pinks are also coming from the beaches of Whidbey Island like from Fort Casey south to Lagoon and Bush points, and on the eastern shoreline at Possession Point Bait Shop.

Other shorelines good for pinks are Lincoln Park in West Seattle, Deception Pass State Park, Kayak Point, Picnic Point, Meadowdale, Mukilteo and Dash Point.

Many other saltwater and river areas open Sept. 1 for salmon fishing, but be sure to check the regulation pamphlet for details so you don’t get into trouble. This include Elliott Bay and the Duwamish Waterway which opens for pinks and coho; Hood Canal north of Ayock Point opens for coho only; and the Stillaguamish and sections of the Skykomish also open for pinks.

There is some fairly good king fishing happening in Samish and Skokomish rivers, but as always the case there has been some illegal snagging going on too.

Shilshole Bay just outside the closure zone was pretty hot for pinks, and the local charter boats were catching anywhere from 12 to 16 fish per trip, but by Aug. 25 the winds had kicked up and there was complaints by sport anglers of commercial boats netting the area big time.

“We had some very close encounters with the netters and had to move from the normal fishing spots, and this has been an issue,” said Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Everett. “I had a talk with the state [Fish and Wildlife] guys, and they are looking into it.”

“I am not the only one to call and they might want to reconsider on where they fish if they are having gear conflicts with the sports anglers,” Krein said.

The commercial netters are fishing tomorrow (Aug. 27) and next Monday, Aug. 31 in Area 10, better known as Central Puget Sound.

Boat anglers are finding good pink fishing from Mukilteo south to Humpy Hollow, Possession Bar (they are thick as fleas), Point No Point, Scatchet Head, Edmonds area, Jefferson Head, west side of Whidbey Island, Alki Point and clear down into the Tacoma area.

King fishing in Puget Sound still remains an option, although it has been a somewhat disappointing summer for them.

Places like Richmond Beach, Kingston, Point No Point, Point Monroe, Jefferson Head, Yeomalt Point, Southworth, Dolphin Point, Tacoma area and the San Juan Islands at places like Eagle Point and Secret Harbor off Cypress Island are giving up a few late kings. Reminder: Central and North Puget Sound (Areas 9 and 10) close for hatchery kings after Aug. 31.

If there is any indication that this pink fishery will end soon all you have to do is take a look at what is happening in the Strait of Juan de Fuca where pink and coho fishing action is still pretty good.

“The weather had been marginal for wind and fog days, but in between that pink fishing is looking pretty good at Sekiu and Port Angeles,” said Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife fish checker in the Strait.

On Sunday, there was 64 boats with 168 anglers at Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu with 295 pinks and 70 coho.

“I don’t think it has hit the peak yet on coho, and it looks like it will build into a good coho run,” Bennett said. “I’m seeing some pretty decent coho numbers, not extraordinarily high. Hoefully it’ll keep going and we still have a lot of baitfish in Sekiu and Port Angeles.”

It has been a wonderful summer off the South Coast for salmon anglers, and fishing has been so good in the ocean off Ilwaco that it will close after Monday, Aug. 31.

“Once it closes we will assess where we are and may look at reopening down the line, but that won’t take place for a little while,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Last week, Westport transferred 8,300 fish from their quota over to the Ilwaco quota, but with the good fishing it didn’t last very long.

“We had a pretty slow week effort wise because of bad weather, and fishing in the ocean off the Columbia River had dropped off a little to 1.3 fish per person [this past week],” Beeghly said.

With that said you don’t need to worry because just outside the Port of Ilwaco sits the Buoy 10 fishery, and that will remain good heading into next month.

“You best option is Buoy 10, which is pretty nice right now,” Beeghly said. “And the good thing is that the [daily] catch limit goes up to three coho, and I bet some people will get their three coho.”

The peak of the coho run at Buoy 10 is usually the second week of September, and then it drops off, according to Beeghly.

“But, this year there are so many darn fish, and we are still seeing so many coho at Westport and La Push that you can only think they’re Columbia River fish still moving down the coast,” Beeghly said. “I got a feeling we might be having a little longer season this year.”

Just up the coast at Westport they had another really good week, Beeghly said, where they averaged 1.8 fish per person, and it is a coho show now.

“There are some nice fish, and I heard of a 17 pound coho, and I didn’t see anything under 9 pounds,” Beeghly said.

La Push had a really good week with a 1.9 fish per rod, and all the catch was coho although angler effort did drop.

“At Neah Bay they didn’t do so well, and it was a half a fish per person average not counting pinks, and if you add them in it was about a fish per person,” Beeghly said.

Beeghly saw a bunch of tuna trips this week out of Westport, Ilwaco and some out of La Push. The catch was anywhere from three to six fish per person.

I talked with Joy Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who was down at Westport on Aug. 25, and their boat got halfway out and then a strong southeast wind pushed them right back into port. He said those who kept on going ended up finding some decent fishing.

In the Columbia River itself there is still some fairly good king fishing happening from the mouth of the Cowlitz to Vancouver for a half a chinook per boat average. Coho have also shown up in the lower river tributaries like the Lewis, Kalama and most likely the Cowlitz too. Drano Lake and the White Salmon River are still decent for what is turning into a record steelhead return. Steelhead daily counts at Bonneville Dam remain good.

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