Octoberfest! Nupe, if you’re thinking I’m talking about indulging in a bratwurst and beer. Octoberfest for this cat is saltwater and freshwater salmon fishing, chased with a big Dungeness crab. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
I started writing these monthly columns some six or seven years ago, gently persuaded by my employer, the Northwest Marine Trade Association, who is better known as the producer of the big Seattle Boat Show. The purpose of the columns has continuously been to seize the prospects of fishing opportunities here in the Pacific northwest through sharing and downloading a head-full of knowledge and experience I have inhaled during the last 40 plus years of playing in the salmon fishing game. Yep, I’m getting old!
It was only a year ago, in my October column, when I focused on reflections of the killer summer salmon fishing most of us enjoyed. Ditto for 2013 except for the fact that I talked about it less, and fished more!
Some anglers focus on staying close to the waters of their choice during the summer salmon season, beginning with July. I prefer to mix it up: Neah Bay, Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook at Port Angeles and MidChannel Bank near Port Townsend, topped off with a few days up at Tahsis fishing near Esparanza Inlet. Ahhhhhhh, I love king salmon! And, it rained king salmon!
The big show in August for this angler was the lower Columbia below and above the Astoria Bridge. Six days delivered 18 kings. More king salmon Nirvana.
And then, before I knew it, here comes September, and on to Grays Harbor September 16th for the one week king salmon opener followed by the big coho parade.
As I addressed in last month’s column, October can be outstanding for coho fishing throughout the month in both the south and north Channels of Grays Harbor. I tend to fish along the edges of the channels where coho seem to hang. Don’t be concerned about fishing in 15 feet of water, for example, but attempt to troll as close to the deck as possible. Drop sinkers or divers seem to be the preference of getting down near the bottom for most Grays Harbor anglers.
My gear of choice is a six-ounce drop sinker, with about one foot of 30-pound leader off my three-way swivel, followed by a 6-7 foot 20-pound leader to a tight spinning, green label plug cut herring. I believe in the spin, not the roll.
Some anglers believe in using a fish flash attractor, attached directly behind the three way swivel. I have had great success with the new chrome and chartruse Kone Zone fish attractors but they are not mandatory to be successful. Fishing efficiently, close to the bottom, with a tight spinning herring is more important.
The north channel is very underfished, especially from the big concrete dock in Hoquiam, trolling east into the entrance of the Chehalis River and the mouth of the Little Hoquiam River. I like flood tides and I traditionally troll west and east of the mouth of the Little Hoquiam at mid-depth which is 17 pulls with six ounces of lead.
Clearly, October is a smorgasbord of fishing opportunities throughout western Washington. Chinook and coho fishing is approaching prime time in most major rivers which means the Chehalis and Satsop Rivers for this angler.
Out on the saltwater of Puget Sound, particularly in the Point No Point region, it can be a blast fishing for coho, early chum salmon and the new crop of winter blackmouth, now arriving particularly in most areas of the Sound including the San Juans. And you were thinking about taking a break after this incredible summer!
(Tony Floor is the Director of Fishing Affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) and a former 30-year veteran of state Fish and Wildlife. NMTA advocates for and promotes recreational boating and fishing in the region.)