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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

September 16, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Pink bite in Puget Sound slowing down, but coho are coming in strong

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The good times keep on rolling in Puget Sound, but the coho action seems to be gaining steam while the pink bite is starting to wane.

It was my birthday today and I always say the coho seem to arrive right on that date or this year it was much earlier and started to ramp up about a week and a half ago.

I annually take the day off from work to go fishing, and launched the boat this morning at 6 a.m. from the Shilshole Bay Marina with co-worker Jon Fisch.

We trolled and motor-mooched cut-plug herring between Meadow Point and the north side of West Point.

We were among the 70 boats fishing in the area, and the charters like Steve Kesling, owner of Adventure Charters and Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters have this locale dialed with a vengeance.

While we had three chances at salmon, we only managed to get one nice 7 pound coho in the boat. I saw some action by other boats in the area, but Krein had a limit of coho for five anglers up to 12 pounds by 9 a.m. Kesling had seven pinks and seven coho, plus he said they lost a bunch of others by 11:30 a.m.

Kesling has been consistently catching his fish at a depth of 60 to 70 feet trolling mini squids with flashers on downriggers.

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It looks like the coho are not only biting this year, but they are bigger with many tipping the scales at 15 pounds or bigger.

Other good fishing spots for coho has been Possession Bar, Edmonds area, Browns Bay, Point No Point, the entire west side of Whidbey Island and Jefferson Head. There are still a few pinks around from Mukilteo down to the Shipwreck and the east side of Whidbey Island.

Out on the coast it looks like angler effort in the ocean has started to wind down, but the catches remain very good.

“The catch average at Westport is 1.7 fish per person, which is amazing for this last in the year, and they’re going to go out with a bang,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “It astounds me, and I didn’t expect that at all. It just shows you how big the coho run really was this summer.”

Westport, La Push (1.3 fish per rod average this past week) and Neah Bay (1.1) closes for salmon after Sept. 20. Ilwaco (1.1) is open through this month, but angler effort has really dropped although there are some really nice coho still coming out of the catches.

“I saw a bunch of successful tuna fishing trips out of Ilwaco and Westport, and a few out of La Push,” Beeghly said. “Most are going 35 to 40 miles offshore. The average catch is four to five fish per person, and I saw five guys at Ilwaco with 60 tuna.”

The Grays Harbor coho fishery is now open, but I haven’t gotten any reports yet. I did hear from Beeghly, who said the biggest news of the day was that the Chehalis River opened today for coho, and fishing was good from Cosmopolis all the way up to Montesano.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the pinks bite has also slowed way down but coho are picking up the slack.

“I think the pinks are pretty much gone, although there are still a few around, but not limits like it had been,” said Chris Mohr, owner of Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu. “Coho fishing has been very good the past three days, and it dropped off a bit [yesterday] with lots of nice big ones in the 14 to 17 pound range.”

The Sekiu area is open for rentention of all coho (wild and hatchery) Sept. 19-30.

(Photos take by Mark Yuasa, Seattle Times staff reporter, and Steve Kesling, owner of Adventure Charters in Seattle)

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