The first northern coastal hatchery chinook fishery started off with not much effort and depending on who you talked fishing was either very slow to fair at times.
Larry Bennett, a state Fish and Wildlife creel checker in the Strait reported three boats with seven anglers they checked landed seven hatchery chinook.
“We saw one that was about 18 pounds, and it looks like they caught a few (during the Friday and Saturday, May 10-11 opener),” Bennett said. “Most of the anglers we saw at Sekiu were bottomfishing for rockfish and lingcod.”
Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife coastal biologist reported a much different picture on the two-day hatchery chinook fishery.
“I heard the chinook fishery was very, very slow, and not a lot of effort and catch,” Beeghly said. “It doesn’t look like there were too many caught.”
On the other hand, the Neah Bay and La Push halibut fishery (on Thursday and Saturday, May 9 and 11) was very good.
“The halibut fishery was big, and they caught a lot of halibut and a ton of effort,” Beeghly said. “It was very successful and catch rates were good, but I don’t know about the average size of fish yet.”
Beeghly said water conditions at Neah Bay and La Push on Thursday looked like a lake on the ocean, but Saturday it was a bit choppy.
The Neah Bay and La Push halibut fishery is open this Thursday (May 16) and Saturday (May 18), and the hatchery chinook fishery is open Friday and Saturday (May 17-18). The halibut fishery is closed May 23 and 25, and if enough remains in the catch quota it will reopen May 30 and/or June 1.
Because of the short window of fishing opportunity for halibut at Neah Bay, it also brings out some chaos and madness especially the boat ramp.
During the recent opening, an angler was bringing his vehicle and boat up from the Big Salmon Resort ramp while another angler unknowingly was backing his boat down.
Both collided with each other and the person backing down rammed the read of his boat into the front of the other vehicle smashing the front end and window. The person was sent to hospital with unknown injuries.
Anglers should use extreme caution when at the boat ramps and use common courtesy.
Down on the south central coast at Westport, the halibut fishery continues to produce good action.
“At Westport, effort was down for private boats, but the charters and private boats that did got out did well,” Beeghly said.
Halibut fishing at Westport is open Sundays and Tuesdays each week, but closed May 26 and 28. If enough remains in the catch quota it will reopen June 2 and/or June 4. Meanwhile bottomfishing for black rockfish and lingcod remains excellent, and is open daily.
Fisheries managers plan to evaluate the halibut catches at Westport, Ilwaco (open Fridays to Sundays only) and northern coast on Wednesday.