The ocean sport hatchery-marked chinook season started off with fair to good fishing depending on who you talked to, although ports to the north like Neah Bay and La Push and south off Ilwaco didn’t fare was well.
“I talked with the Westport samplers and they told me for private boats it was looking like about a chinook per boat and each boat averaged about 2½ anglers (on board each vessel),” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “The mark rate (chinook with a missing adipose fin indicating they’re of hatchery origin) was about 50 percent.”
The vast majority of private boat anglers were fishing just right out in front of Westport off the Grays Harbor Buoy, and reports varied from boat to boat.
“We put in a pretty long day, and caught seven unmarked (wild) chinook that were good sized (12 to 18 pounds), and we had two keepers so the mark rate sucked for us,” said Doug Milward, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager who fished around the GH Buoy. “The bite was definitely dampened from the wind, and it was rough and tough to fish.”
Milward also caught four coho (one unmarked wild fish) up to 7 pounds, “which surprised the hell out me for June, although the trollers were saying the coho were big.”
Retired state Fish and Wildlife salmon manager Tom Flynt was also out by the GH Buoy, and had a couple kings 15 to 16 pounds in the boat by 1:30 p.m., and had released four in that time period.
Flynt said there was a good bite early on, and there was more wild fish than the guys thought. The baitfish schools were patchy he said, and some other boats had some nice fish into the 20 pound range.
Those two reports differed from what Greg Kluh of Olympia found in the general area, although his boat was fishing in deeper water anywhere from 115 to 145 feet.
“We brought six kings (14 to 16 pounds) to the boat, and four were hatchery marked fish and were the first four we got,” Kluh said. “We had good success, but it was more like a hunt and peck, a fish here and there. We never got more than one fish in one place.”
The Westport charter boat fleet had a tough time locating the chinook mostly to the north off Copalis Beach, although the catch average ended up somewhere just under a chinook per rod.
“It was slow for the charters, and they all came in late in the day and none of them had limited,” Beeghly said.
Beeghly says one Westport charter boat sampled had eight chinook for eight anglers; another boat had seven or nine fish for 17 anglers; and one other boat had 17 fish for about 17 anglers.
David Jensen of Kirkland bagged a hatchery king that weighed 25 pounds, 8 ounces dressed, and won the Westport charter boat Association’s daily derby of $500, and is the current leader for the $2,500 season prize for biggest fish of the year.
Up north off La Push and Neah Bay the hatchery chinook fishing was slow.
Down south at Ilwaco, Beeghly says they didn’t have a whole lot of salmon caught and fishing was slow.
“Half the boats we checked didn’t have any fish, and the other half had a couple of fish, and we never saw more than two fish per boat,” Beeghly said. “But, the ones we did see were good-sized, nice looking fish.”
All said the water got pretty lumpy by the afternoon, and the forecast for Sunday wasn’t looking very good at this point.
“The forecast is not so good for (Sunday, June 13), and I’m expecting salmon effort to decrease,” Beeghly said.