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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 2, 2011 at 7:38 AM

Tony Floor’s Tackle Box looks at fall fishing opportunities


Tony Floor, longtime salmon angler and director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association offers his monthly fishing report. Here is Floor’s Tackle Box:

I can’t pronounce it. Ahhhctoebur. Yeah, October, I think it’s pronounced, and summer continues to fade in the rear view mirror. How did that happen, just when salmon fishing went from a career to a way of life during the last few months!

Three salmon derbies in September, crabbing in Puget Sound ended a month ago on Labor Day weekend for the summer season, salmon barbeques with friends, a Boz Skaggs concert, fishing every day I can trying to find big chrome coho salmon while the days rip by. Father Time shows no mercy. October is here and the fall as we know it in the Pacific Northwest is a collision waiting to happen. Better get your life vest on now.

My issue is getting organized for October, prioritizing things to do, places to go before La Nina really kicks in. After all, going into our third La Nina winter, we know what’s coming and too frequently, it’s not pretty.

I continue to see a lot to do in the natural world this month. Crabbing in Puget Sound should re-open in most areas of Puget Sound, unless you live on Hood Canal. Shellfish biologists tell me that so many crab were caught in the Canal, that people are starting to develop crab legs for arms. “Hi there, you must be a Hood Canal crabber.” The Canal, where I established my roots as an outdoor boy, has witnessed poor crabbing, especially in the south end, during the middle of the last decade. I know, as I was there fishing in a biological desert. Remarkebly, beginning last year, the Canal once again exploded with crab like the good ‘ol days. This past summer, the word got out and while the crabbing was spectacular, the fishing pressure was off the chart. Naughty, naughty. Therefore, I do not expect the Canal to reopen this fall but there are options for Hood Canal crabbers in other areas of Puget Sound, or in Grays Harbor which is currently open to fishing for crab with rings, until early December.

For salmon anglers, Frank Haw, my mentor and the Curt Gowdy of salmon fishermen for many, taught me about “the hat trick” up at Pt. No Pt. in mid-October. Coho salmon, post peak in their return to Puget Sound, early big chum salmon, along with the upcoming winter blackmouth can be had at Pt. No Pt., particularly on outgoing tides. Jefferson Head, just to the south of the Point, can be a sleeper too and I like the flood tide there.

For river salmon anglers, October is an incredible month for late king salmon and peak for nice coho salmon. Isn’t it odd, in our lingo when we talk about coho salmon, “Hey Darryl (who fishes with his brother Darryl), check out these ‘nice’ coho!” What is a nice coho salmon? Something over 10 pounds? Twelve pounds or larger? Very weird. For most anglers, they are always reported as “nice coho salmon.”

I do most of my river coho salmon fishing with friends, who have drift boats or sleds and focus on the coastal rivers, especially in Grays Harbor. The Humptulips, Satsop and Chehalis Rivers in particular. Lots of ‘nice’ coho salmon, some, as big as horses, spooling Darryl and Darryl on every hook-up. And the coho salmon forecast is decent this fall, for both the coast and Puget Sound. Enough to keep me outside.

I’ve also noted Oct. 7 on my calendar as a day I plan to be in court, here in Thurston County. If you guessed crab, you’re right. Remember last June, when a Thurston County judge threw a request by the Puget Sound commercial crab industry, to stop the expansion of crab fishing by sport crabbers this summer? Now, the Puget Sound commercial crabbers are back, seeking a greater lawsuit against the state, saying the Fish and Wildlife Commission made their decision, providing us with more crab fishing opportunity, in an arbitrary and capricious manner. Give me a break! The Commission, guided by process did a comprehensive and public dissection of the issue and I am hopeful that the judge will send the commercial crabber’s attorney packing. The market place is full of crab, year round, as there are 250 Puget Sound commercial crab licenses compared to 225,000 of us. And, the commercials (along with the tribes) have all the crab they can gag on in the ocean fishery. It’s about time the courts and fishery managers make decisions, consistently, fully considering economic benefits. Game over.

As reported in this column previously, my day job includes attending salmon fishing tournaments here in Washington through the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, which I manage. Each year, in September, at the Everett Coho Derby (Sept. 24-25) I give away a fully outfitted boat, motor and trailer package, all donated by manufacturers and sponsors, worth this year around $60,000 smackos. Some lucky angler, who participates in one or more of the derbies, wins the boat. Cool, huh? Just last week, during the derby ceremonies in Everett, Randy Aden from Hoodsport won the boat package. Randy was seen yesterday, screaming from the top of the Space Needle that “I won!” He was boatless until I called him on a Monday, informing him that he is this year’s winner. Is that the definition of a good Monday? Randy thinks so. And some say, playing Santa, giving away boats every year is not a job. Well, it is a job and I know I must have been Mother Theresa in a former life!

Time to beat the rain and go fishing. See you on the water.

Click on Tony Floor’s Tackle Box to subscribe.

(Photo taken by Mark Yuasa)



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