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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 16, 2011 at 1:41 AM

Plenty of fish around to catch, and coastal salmon fishery opens this Saturday

Looking into the fishing crystal ball this week reveals some pretty good fishing opportunities.

This Saturday marks the opening of summer hatchery-marked chinook fishing off the coastal ports of Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay.

“After looking at what the commercial troll fishery is doing off the coast, things are setting up to where this will be a great fishery,” said Doug Milward, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager. “Catches are picking up, and there have been fish caught by trollers off Westport and up north (off Neah Bay) the whole time.”

All coastal ports are open daily through June 25, with a daily limit of two hatchery-marked chinook. Release all coho and wild chinook. Fishing continues at each port starting June 26, but check the regulation pamphlet for specifics.

On the northern Olympic coast, Bob Gooding, owner of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks reports a good mix of steelhead and spring chinook.

“This has been some of the best spring chinook fishing I’ve seen in a long time in the Sol Duc, and the Hoh has been OK when it’s not affected by the snow melt,” Gooding said. “Summer run steelhead in Lower Calawah and Bogachiel has been really good.”

The hatchery-marked chinook fishery in south central Puget Sound has been more about quality than quantity.

“We aren’t seeing a lot of fish caught, but there have been some really nice ones, including a 28-pound king caught during high water (on Tuesday night),” said Art Tatchell, manager of the Point Defiance Park Boathouse in Tacoma. “There have also been a handful of fish in the 18-pound range caught off the Clay Banks and the Flats area.”

Tatchell says the “we’ve seen a fair amount of southwest winds, and not a ton of guys out and we had some pretty big minus tides, which should settle down by this weekend.”

A few more chinook were hooked in the Tulalip Bay bubble fishery, but lots of tribal crab gear in the water so trollers should be aware. Better option is jigging Point Wilson Darts off the entrance to the bay at daybreak.

Excellent at Westport and Neah Bay for lingcod and black rockfish. Puget Sound south of the Narrows Bridge is open for hatchery chinook. Central Puget Sound north of a line from Point Monroe to Meadow Point is open to salmon catch and release.

Hood Canal has enough spot shrimp left in the sport catch quota to reopen 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 22.

“Catches were about 14.4 pounds per boat (on June 8 opener), which isn’t bad,” said Mark O’Toole, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Down on the Columbia River, anglers have a fair to good chance of catching sockeye, shad, summer chinook and steelhead.

“We’ve got quite a bit going right now, and have seen a few more sockeye and a pretty good steelhead bite,” said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “There’s also been an appearance of upper Columbia summer chinook, including a few in the 30-pound range.”

Anglers can now keep two hatchery chinook and steelhead daily or one of each below Bonneville Dam.

Shad effort and catch picked up below Bonneville Dam, and the single-day count jumped up to 44,028 shad on Tuesday. Bank anglers below Bonneville averaged nearly three shad per rod. Some were caught by boat anglers in the Gorge and at Woodland.

Sturgeon down at the coast in the Lower Columbia estuary is off to a slow start, and those who are lucky enough to catch one will usually find out it is a keeper-size fish.

On the freshwater scene, “kokanee fishing at Lake Stevens has been relatively good, and it is best from dawn until about 7 a.m.,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood. “Fishing in the evenings also has a little bite, but not as good as the mornings, and the fish are down as deep as 50 feet. Koaknee fishing has also come on at Lake Cavanaugh.”

It is also fair for trout at McMurray, Ki, Martha, Sixteen, Blackmans, Mineral, Meridian, Green, Wilderness, Jameson, Pine, Cottage, Wapato, Nunnally, Deer, Angle, Roesiger and Lone.

On the local rivers, “the Skykomish has kings and steelhead caught but not red hot, and if the weather warms up the river is going to get out of shape fast,” Chamberlain said.

The open sections of the Cascade and Skagit have been off and on for kings.

It is fair in the Cowlitz River for spring chinook at barrier dam, and for steelhead around the trout hatchery.

It has been fair in the Wind River around Coffer Dam for spring chinook, and Klickitat River for spring chinook and steelhead.

There has been a fair bite in The Dalles Pool for spring chinook, and it has been very good for walleye and bass in The Dalles Pool and John Day Pool.

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