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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 11, 2012 at 6:31 PM

A whole bunch of good statewide fishing on tap in the weeks ahead


Here is what state Fish and Wildlife biologists, charter boat operators and tackle shop owners are saying about fishing across the state:

“Well we’ve done fairly good yesterday and (Monday), and there are still some coho scattered around,” said Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Everett. “We found some action for (catch and release of) chinook off Jeff Head (on Wednesday morning). There are some kings around that we’ve released and I’ve heard reports that there are some up north at Point No Point.”

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, fisheries checks at Sekiu and Port Angeles boat ramps showed close to a salmon per rod.

Gary Ryan, manager of Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu offers his input on what has been a stellar hatchery king and coho fishery since it opened this month.

“It’s not windy here and just a thin layer of marine fog (on Tuesday and Wednesday) and I can see 10 miles out in front and all the way to Slip Point. Fishing has been good with up and down days for kings. Most of the kings are 7 to 12 pounds, but we’ve also seen a good amount between 14 and 18 pounds. I saw a decent night bite (on Tuesday), and there are people cleaning fish at all three cleaning stations as we speak. Overall it has been a good fishery so far.”

In the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife fish sampler says the weather has been much different.

“Yesterday (Tuesday, July 10) the weather was crummy at Port Angeles, and it was windy and foggy again (Wednesday, July 11),” said Bennett. “There was probably no more than 10 or 15 boats out at Ediz Hook ramp.”

When the winds aren’t blowing they were still doing pretty good at Port Angeles for blackmouth size chinook up to kings in the 20 pound range.

“It slowed up on Saturday at Sekiu, and then some bigger kings moved in on Sunday,” Bennett said. “On Sunday the crowds thinned out at Sekiu, and it was a ghost town (on Monday). Still some coho around, and they’ve increased in size with an occasional 5 pounder caught.”

Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Montesano has her eyes and ears on constant alert on how fishing is going off the coast.

“Neah Bay has been the hottest place to be, and they’re catching in excess of a fish per person,” said Beeghly. “Ilwaco also has a good week averaging a fish per person, and the catch was pretty even at half coho and chinook. They are seeing a pretty good number of chinook at Ilwaco.”

Westport had a total of 0.60 fish per person, and it was almost all chinook.

“Anglers are still fishing close to the harbor, but the (catch per unit effort) is dropping and they aren’t finding the fish like they did at the beginning. I assume Westport will have a few more good weeks on chinook during the season.”

Up north, La Push had 0.80 fish per person, and the catch was more coho than chinook by about a 2-to-1 ratio. At Neah Bay the catch was made up of a little more than half chinook, but they also saw a decent number of coho too.

“What we’re hearing is the (hatchery) mark rate for coho is down,” Beeghly said. “It makes a lot of sense since the coho stocks aren’t highly marked (with a missing adipose fin).”

Chinook are averaging about 8 to 12 pounds with a few bigger ones into the low 20 pound range. The coho are pretty small coastwide, but some nice ones were caught at Ilwaco.


When you want to find out how fishing is going in the northwestern region of our state you call up Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist who keeps up on the latest low downs.

“The last couple of days there have been quite a few sockeye moving up Baker River and there are 2,660 in the trap, but we’ve only moved 330 fish into Baker Lake,” said Barkdull. “I wouldn’t tell anybody to fish the lake yet, but once we start to transfer more then it will be time to go.”

“The Lower Skagit sockeye fishery is just kind of rolling along with bank fishermen way out fishing the boat anglers,” he said. “Water is still really high and at double of normal flows and it hit 40,000 cfs again (Tuesady). We have a lot of water in the river, and it is only getting higher with this nice weather.”

“There is a lot of effort on the Lower Skagit. People who are fishing in the fishery are doing just fine, and those who are coming from outside the fishery seem to have a lot of confusion on rules and other things,” Barkdull said. “Outside of that folks are limiting on sockeye.”

“The spring chinook fishery in the Skagit and Cascade is slow and not much effort,” Barkdull said. “I would say to anybody who would like to catch a spring chinook should go with guide John Koning because he’s catching fish and has it dialed in.”

Mike Chamberlain, owner of Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood has been working in the industry since back in the 1970s, and knows just about everything there is on fishing.

“There is a lot going on, and now we are coming up on the last few days of sockeye fishing in the Lower Skagit and with this warmer weather the river has really come up,” Chamberlain said. “There is not a lot of places to fish, but they are still getting fish and it’s still great fishing.”

“The Baker Lake has not materialized just yet, and only 330 fish have been dumped into the lake,” he said. “I think it will be at least the middle of the month until that fishery starts to materialize and a lot of people booked their time early and well it just won’t be that good.”

“The hottest fisheries is Neah Bay and the Straits is on fire for kings and coho, and this has been some of the best king fishing we’ve seen in quite a long time,” said Chamberlain. “The numbers of kings caught have been outstanding, and this will be good when Puget Sound opens on July 16.”

“The San Juan Islands has been a little slower, and not as good as the Straits,” he said. “Seeing some great trout fishing going on in the bigger lakes like Goodwin and Shoecraft. A lot of the fish are pushing into the upper 17 and 18 inches. Generally not limits, but enough of those bigger fish to make it interesting. Get out early or the waterskiers will drive you crazy.”

“Kokanee fishing at Lake Stevens is fairly decent in water in the 55 to 70 foot range. Kokanee are 15 to 17 inches. Crabbing has been good and some of the poeple are grousing about it, and fishing where tribes have been fishing heavily before the non tribal opener so they have been struggling. People in areas less fished have been getting some nice size crabs.”

“Steelhead fishing in the Skykomish is OK, and John (a co-worker) was up there (Tuesday) and limited out in fairly short order,” Chamberlain said. “Not phenomenal, but fairly consistent.”

“The Upper Columbia River sockeye fishery hasn’t taken off just yet,” Chamberlain said. “Pretty good steelhead reports down in the Columbia River plunking spin-n-glo’s and shrimp. The Edmonds Pier has a few kings caught and hearing of at least a couple hooked every day.”

Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in Vancouver keeps tabs on all the fishing activities in the Columbia River region.

“We broke 500,000 (actually 500,355) for sockeye over Bonneville (on Tuesday), and steelhead fishing has been pretty good from Longview downstream (in Lower Columbia),” said Hymer. “What we’ve seen is a transition of half hatchery and half wild steelhead to more hatchery fish on the lower river from Longview on downstream.”

“We are seeing 1,300 to 1,400 steelhead per day at Bonneville, and should start seeing those A-run steelhead. A check on Cowlitz was pretty decent for boating down at Blue Creek and it was like half a fish per rod out of boats. Bank guys were also getting some too below barrier dam. Shad is done with. A little sturgeon catch between Woodland and Longview (open for catch and keep Thursdays to Saturdays only). The sockeye are coming in about 5,000 per day.”



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