Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend had been getting all the rave reviews from salmon anglers pursuing kings since it opened on Tuesday, July 16.
When word got out, I had to urge to take any ways necessary to get in on the action so I made plans to head up to this large sandy plateau located in Admiralty Inlet on Thursday.
As luck would have it, two days before saw torrential downpours, a lightning and thunderstorm that had put off the bite remarkably on Wednesday.
Well everyday is different so we still decided to play the cards and headed out under the cloudy dark skies from the Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina to the eastern ledge of Midchannel Bank.
The morning low tide when we arrived on the bank at 5 a.m. had the currents pushing the boat from Craven Rock on the northeast side of Marrowstone Island in a northerly direction toward Point Wilson located just north of the town of Port Townsend.
It was one of those perfect drifts and the boats were all trolling along the 90 to 110 foot line with about a dozen boats jigging in the “Judges Hole,” named after King County Superior Court Judge Jim Bates who passed away some time ago but was one of the best mooching anglers on the bank.
Our plan was to troll with downriggers using Coyote Spoons and flashers bouncing the big 10 to 12 pound lead balls right off the sandy bottom.
Our first two drifts came up empty-handed, but on our third drift we finally hooked into one king that pulled out line and then unbuttoned before we even got a chance to see it.
We quickly moved back into position and no sooner we had another hit and this one also took off for the horizon, but we got it near the net once before it too unbuttoned.
0-for-2 on kings is not a good way the start the morning.
Finally at around 8:30 a.m. we started to see a semi-good bite happening with anglers hooked up on fish around us.
The pole on the star board popped off the downrigger clip as my friend hooked into a nice 13 pound hatchery that we landed.
The rest of the morning it was just a fish caught here and there, and I also boated another 13 pound hatchery king and we had another hook up before the fish simply went off the bite.
We got some Intel the fish and schools of baitfish on the now changing flood tide had moved onto the western side of the sandy flats so we decided to try our luck there.
The area we trolled wasn’t what we’d consider a traditional king holding area as we trolled along an area that was anywhere from as shallow as 45 feet to a depth of 75 feet. But, the screen was lit up with schools and baitfish and we marked what were some definite kings. Birds were also working the baitfish and it just seemed really fishy.
As we doubted ourselves one of the poles slammed down and off the clip, and made a run for the horizon. In a short period of about one hour we had a few more opportunities and saw some fish caught before the bite went off once again.
Those mooching herring and jigging also found a good king bite Thursday and Friday right off the Point Wilson lighthouse right on the end off the outgoing tide in 30 to 60 feet of water.
“For several days in a row the locals have been getting a lot fish right off the Point Wilson lighthouse, and that was a very popular place and elbow-to-elbow with anglers back in the 1970s and 1980s,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association in Seattle.
As we ended our day and going three-for-eight on kings we knew this was just the start of another great summer to the hatchery king fishery that will continue through Aug. 30 in northern and central Puget Sound.
Other areas where a king bite had finally started to pick up were Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Bush Point, the west side of Marrowstone Island, Possession Bar, West Point south of Shilshole Bay, Yeomalt Point, Pilot Point, Richmond Beach, Edmonds area and Jefferson Head.
Surprisingly one place that hasn’t produced and usually does is Kingston, but that could change quickly as these fish migrate into Puget Sound. Also look for action to pick up to the south at Allen Bank off Blake Island, Dolphin Point on Vashon Island, Lincoln Park off West Seattle, Brace Point, Southworth and down along both side of Vashon Island heading into August.
“I think it is going to be a good season,” said Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle who spends just about everyday on the water between June and September. “We had one and lost another hatchery king (on Thursday), and had another to the boat.”
“We caught one hatchery fish at Point No Point (Friday morning) and there was like twice as many boats (about plus-44 total) than the day before,” Robbins said.
Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Shilshole Bay, has been finding a good number of chinook and coho mainly in the northern part of central Puget Sound.
“We got chinook (Thursday) around Meadow Point, and (Friday morning) we’ve had action on chinook and coho at Jefferson Head,” Krein said. “I heard Presidents Point produced fish as did Possession Bar, Port Townsend and Point No Point.”