Roll out the red carpet!
Summer king salmon fishing has kicked into full gear, and surprisingly it has been remarkably good on the coast and some open areas of Puget Sound.
“Ilwaco did really well, and we see quite a few boats with limits, but not a lot of (angler) effort,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon biologist. “Westport picked up and was considerably good (on Tuesday and Monday), and both the private and charter boats did quite well,” Beeghly said. “Guys ended up not going very far into the ocean (found the fish up off Ocean Shores), and ended up on the bat (by Buoy 8 and the sunken jetty) in the afternoon.”
At Neah Bay we didn’t see much effort although it wasn’t too bad on Saturday, but pretty slow by Sunday. La Push had a light angler turnout and just a few chinook caught.
The best areas were off Mushroom Rock, Umatilla Reef and Swiftsure Bank on the northern coast.
Beeghly says coastwide there has been a pretty high (hatchery) mark rate (chinook with a missing adipose fin), and not many anglers have had to release a lot of legal-size kings, although they are releasing a lot of sub-legal size fish.
Ocean king fishing by the numbers:
Ilwaco: 135 anglers June 18-19 with 136 chinook for 1.01 fish per rod average.
Westport: 1,375 anglers June 18-19 caught 630 for 0.46 fish per rod average.
La Push: 42 anglers June 18-19 caught 10 chinook for 0.23 fish per rod average.
Neah Bay: 216 anglers June 18-19 caught 81 chinook for 0.38 fish per rod average.
Coastwide: 1,768 anglers June 18-19 caught 857 chinook for 0.48 fish per rod average.
The late June hatchery chinook sport quota is 4,800, and so far 18 percent of that has been taken.
The northern coast off La Push and Neah Bay will get another day of halibut fishing on June 30 after state Fish and Wildlife determined enough remained in the sport catch quota.
“We had enough left in the quota to open it on a Thursday (June 30), and we got a lot of call wanting to know why we could do a weekend day and we just didn’t have enough,” said Heather Reed, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal halibut biologist.
About 13,081 pounds are left the sport catch quota.
“The weather wasn’t great during the last opener, we also had strong currents, and it has been pretty much a lack of (angler) effort rather than a lack of success this season,” Reed said.
Those who want to stay close to Seattle, have plenty of options for early kings.
King fishing in the catch and release area of Central Puget Sound north of the Meadow Point-Point Monroe line has been decent.
“We released two adult kings (on Monday, June 20), and got five on Sunday (June 19), and it has been good for about a week around Jefferson Head and Kingston,” Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle said, who noted they also had about eight other hook ups on salmon that they never saw.
Four of the five Robbins caught on Sunday were hatchery-marked, and one of the two on Monday were hatchery-marked as well.
“All the kings were double digit weighing fish (11 or 12 pounds), and two weighed 18 and 19 pounds,” Robbins said.
“The kings showed up earlier than usual, and historically it isn’t a surprise to see them by now, but for the recent past years it is early to see them in like this in June,” Robbins said.
Further down the pipeline in south central Puget Sound, anglers in the Tacoma area weren’t finding quantity of chinook, but the quality is about as good as you can get.
Art Tatchell, manager of the Point Defiance Park Boathouse in Tacoma saw a 32 ½ pound hatchery king brought in on Tuesday along with a couple others that weighed 20 pounds.
Most of the action is coming off the Clay Banks, but on the flood tide anglers were finding some fish at Point Dalco on the south side of Vashon Island.
The bad news is that the pesky dogfish schools are now thick as well as the baitfish so anglers using bait like herring should tie a bunch of fishing leaders.