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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

December 21, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Plenty of winter steelhead around but tough to catch, and open marine areas yielding some chinook

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Kent Alger at Three Rivers and Marine in Woodinville knows the in and out on the fishing scene, and here is his take on what’s happening this week.

“We are weighing a good number of steelhead for our derby (leader is a 16 pound fish), and oddly enough weighed in eight on (Monday, Dec. 19), and none (on Tuesday, Dec. 20). Most we seen were caught on the Skykomish, and they’ve been grinding them out in the low and clear water. You can see everything in the river right now since it is so clear, and it is tough fishing and has been that way the last few weeks.”

“Mother Nature has thrown us a massive curveball this month, but they’re still catching fish and if we had more water in the rivers it would be smoking. The best fishing is in the morning at first light, and then folks are just grinding away to catch fish.”

“Guys floating in drift boats are hitting a few steelhead, and nobody is getting out in a sled. I’ve heard of a few steelhead out of the Snoqualmie, and the Sky is the better bet. Also a few coming out of the Stilly (Stillaguamish) on the North Fork, and Skagit but it is a lot tougher in a lot of places. Bryan (Nelson a co-worker) walked into Fortson, and couldn’t find any fish.”

“Seeing some nice three-salt steelhead averaging 10 to 11 pounds, and the two-salts are averaging 6 pounds. “We’ve weighed in 100 fish for our derby (that goes into February) so far, and we’ve already weiged more than we did last year, and that might just be because word got out about the free derby.”

“The guys living over in Forks (on the northern coastal rivers) are just crushing all the steelhead, but by the time the Saturday guys arrive the fish are gone. There are plenty of fish around the coast, but it all goes back to tough conditions again.”

“On the saltwater I know a guy who brought one into our place that was a little over 15 pounds from Area 8-2 (east side of Whidbey Island) that he caught off Columbia Beach. It seems like the guys putting in the time are hitting a lot of legal (chinook over the 22-inch minimum size limit) and sub-legals. Every once in a while they’ll catch one 10-plus pound fish and for the most part theyare getting a decent keeper sized fish of about 5 to 6 pounds after weeding through the shakers.”

“Elger Bay has been the best bet of all of it, and a lot of guys getting 8 to 10 pounders, but the tribes have crab pots laid out everywhere and that is making it tough to troll through. My buddy went up (Monday, Dec. 19) and they got one skinny 15 pound blackmouth off Salmon Bank. I was talking with the guys from Bellingham and they were getting some fish inside at Obstruction pass with the keepers being 8 to 10 pounds, and a good fish going up to 15 pounds plus.”

(Photo courtesy of Kent Alger, and pictured is Noah Vannoy of Snohomish with a 15 pound hatchery chinook he caught off Salmon Bank on Monday, Dec. 19.)

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