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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

August 3, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Lowdown on what is happening on the local fishing scene

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Here is a weekly rundown on what biologists, charter operators and others like myself had to say about fishing in Western Washington:

First up, I fished Kingston this morning after hearing of good reports of a king bite on Tuesday, but as it turned out “you should’ve been there yesterday” was the name of the game for me. I got lucky and ended up catching one 12 pound hatchery king, and lost another at the boat.

When I got back to the boat ramp at Shilshole Bay, Courtney the fish checker said they saw 14 boats with five kings and one pink by 10 a.m. She said fishing did pick up from what it had been.

Next is Mark Cedergreen, the president of the Westport Charterboat Association:

“Fishing (this past) Sunday and Monday was great, and (Tuesday) was a little flatter about a fish per person. The catch is 60 percent kings, and everybody was getting a king when they weren’t off the bite.”

“Getting a limit of kings with (the current) one fish bag is an all-day deal, but if we do get better fishing it will change that soon. It is steady as she goes. There are days when the king bite well, and days when they aren’t so easy to catch, and you spend quite some time trying to catch them.”

Starting, Sunday, Aug. 7, salmon anglers fishing off Westport (Area 2) and Ilwaco (Area 1) can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

This comes in line with La Push (Area 3) and Neah Bay (Area 4), which went to the liberal chinook daily limit last week. Anglers Areas 3 and 4 are also allowed one additional pink salmon each day.

Salmon fishing is also now open daily along the entire coast.

Joe Hymer, the state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver who knows the in and out of just about every fishery along the Columbia River has this to report:

“Not too big of a change at midweek, and Buoy 10 (on the Lower Columbia near the mouth) was off to a slow start on Monday and (Tuesday) was a slow day.”

“We’re still seeing a bunch of steelhead in the catch on Lower Columbia, and starting to see fall chinook up to 38 pounds. There is some pretty good catches of steelhead at mouth of White Slamon River and in Bonneville Pool. The Columbia is not quite warming up yet so steelhead are staging at the mouth. Sounds like the walleye has been pretty good in the John Day Pool and good in The Dalles Pool. Acommercial fishery happens on the lower river on Thursday night.”

Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who has been busy manning the duties of the Baker Lake sockeye fishery took a break (Wednesday, Aug. 3) to go out and pursue king in the saltwater:

“We are wasting time trolling around and we started the morning at Midchannel Bank, and not a single thing going on there. Now were over at Bush Point (on west side of Whidbey Island) and watching all the humpies (pink salmon) roll around like crazy.

“We’ve got a new record sockeye return, and more than 24,201 (through Sunday) have entered the fish trap.”

The previous high was 20,235 in 2003. More than 15,915 have been trucked to the lake.

“They’re doing really well, and the last few days the checks have showed it was a little over a fish per person. People have finally figured out where the fish are in the lake, and half the trick was finding them.”

Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife fish sampler in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is filled to the gills in nothing but pinks:

“The pink catch hit an all-time high at Sekiu with counts hitting 700 pinks at two sites for 170 boats. The chinook catch also took a jump and there is also good fishing for them.”

“There was some pretty good checks for kings, and it got up to 50 something fish at one Sekiu check so it definitely picked up a little. There is next to nothing on coho.”

Pete Sergeef, the state Fish and Wildlife sampler at the Don Armeni ramp in West Seattle, took Monday off to fish Lincoln Park in West Seattle and managed to catch a couple of kings, but said the pinks were already down there and many guys were fishing off the beach throwing pink buzz bombs:

“I just saw them popping fish off the beach.”

A few pinks have started to trickle into Puget Sound giving bank anglers some early hope off Lincoln Park, Golden Gardens, Bush Point, Browns Point and Dash Point. Look for pink returns to ramp up anytime now.

Here is what Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal biologist had to say about salmon fishing in the ocean:

“What were are seeing coastwide is chinook are available, and coho not so much and that is especially true at Westport. I was there on Sunday and most boats I saw had their one chinook limit, but they couldn’t get their coho. Some of them were nice-sized chinook, and I didn’t see any that were small.”

“La Push likewise had more chinook than coho. The CPUE (catch per unit effort) was less than a fish per person. At Neah Bay all they’ve seen are pinks, and it is double of pinks compared to chinook and coho. The CPUE is somewhere around a 1.3 fish per angler. If you enjoy your pinks it is good place to go.”

“Ilwaco had more coho than chinook, and charters are limiting everyday but private boats aren’t finding them and effort dropped off. Private boats had less than a fish per person and charters got limits. They’re not bad size coho averaging about 6 pounds or so right now.”

“We’re seeing quite a few trips for tuna now, and still seeing spotty catches from some private boats that got nothing and others who got three or four per person. Charters boats at Westport are going, and I saw anywhere from 4 to 5 per person to almost 10 per person was the high boat.”

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