The ocean salmon fishing opener had a mixed bag of results with some anglers scoring hatchery-marked kings while others at places like Westport struggled to the find the fish as is usually the case on opening day off the coast.
“I’ve been at Westport and it was slow here,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “We saw a lot of effort, but catch rates were not real high. The water in the morning started off lumpy, but it was definitely fishable.”
Beeghly did say some private boats out of Westport had success, but a lot of others came back to port with nothing.
“It was slow and hopefully they’ll find the fish later this week,” Beeghly said.
Down south at Ilwaco, charter boats reported some fairly good hatchery king fishing.
“It went great, and we had a six man boat out that had 12 fish and was back to the dock by 1 p.m., and one of our big charter boats had 17 kings for 10 people,” said Butch Smith, president of the Ilwaco Charter Association.
“The mark rate was excellent, and the water was lumpy in the morning and then it mellowed out later in the day,” Smith said. “The fishing went better than it did last year on the opener.”
Up north at Neah Bay, state Fish and Wildlife sample checkers saw 60 boats, and reported fairly slow fishing although not terrible for the first day of fishing.
“We had four people in our boat, and got four hatchery chinook (12 to 20 pounds) and (released) four wild fish,” said Doug Milward, the state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon resource salmon manager, who fished for 13 hours on the opener and lost several other fish that they never saw.
Milward who also had to release one king they estimated weighed about 30-plus pounds, and said their boat also scored several lingcod and eight rockfish incidentally.
“We had to cover a lot of ground and the fish were spread out,” said Milward who had one line out the back with six ounces of lead and the others on downriggers. They trolled around the corner of Neah Bay down toward Umatilla Reef.
Joey Lawrence at Big Salmon Fishing Resort says, a fair number of anglers were bringing fish up the docks.
“We’ve checked in a few guys bringing fish up, and managed to find some hatchery kings at Swiftsure Bank that weighed 12 to 20 pounds,” Lawrence said. “We also had a few guys complaining that there were too many wild kings (only hatchery-marked chinook may be kept) out there. We didn’t see too much wind today, and had halfway decent weather. We had some big westerly winds (Friday), but it died down and it was pretty nice this morning.”