Here is one report from a reliable source I got from the San Juan Islands (Marine Catch Area 7), which opened today (Thursday, Dec. 1) for winter hatchery chinook fishing.
“We caught three and felt pretty lucky, and Tom Nelson (outdoors radio host for The Outdoor Line on 710 AM) didn’t know of anyone who did well,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association in Seattle.
Floor and Larry Carpenter, owner of Master Marine in Mount Vernon caught their first hatchery-marked chinook of 10 pounds in the early morning off Eagle Bluff, and the 17 pound hatchery chinook was caught at noon off the Girl Scout camp in President’s Channel. Their final unmarked 8 pound chinook they released was caught from Spring Pass.
“There aren’t many fish around and not much bait, but we felt fortunate to capitalize on the three we got,” Floor said.
Another good predictor on what to expect in the island chain will happen this Friday and Saturday when the San Juan Islands Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers Resurrection Salmon Derby takes place at Friday Harbor.
Last year, Lance Husby of Marysville, a former salmon guide out of Sitka, Alaska, took home the $10,000 first prize with a big blackmouth (a popular term used for chinook for their black gumlines) weighing 19.29 pounds.
The 47 teams weighed in 120 fin-clipped chinook, with 71 tallied Friday and 49 on Saturday due to bad weather conditions.
The derby is limited to 100 teams of up to four anglers per boat, and costs $400. First place is $10,000. Proceeds go to salmon enhancement projects. Details: www.resurrectionderby.com.
Other places to try in the island chain are the north end of Orcas Island at Point Thompson, Point Doughty and Parker Reef, Tide Point area, Thatcher Pass, Lopez Pass and Point Lawrence.
The hatchery chinook fishery is also open in central Puget Sound (10), south central Puget Sound (11) and the east side of Whidbey Island up to Saratoga Pass (8-1 and 8-2). South Puget Sound (13) and Hood Canal (12) are open for salmon.
Northern Puget Sound (9) reopens for hatchery chinook on Jan. 16.