The ocean salmon fishery continues at a red hot pace, plus tuna are now being caught in decent numbers offshore and the Buoy 10 salmon season at the Lower Columbia River mouth also started off fairly good since last Friday.
“It was crazy good fishing at Ilwaco with a 1.8 fish per person average, and last weekend we had some boats in with limits by 7 a.m.,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “The catch at Ilwaco is mainly coho, but they are nice size averaging 7 to 8 pounds with some up 12 and 13 pounds. Their size is pretty amazing for the volume of coho that are out there and the time of the year.”
At Westport the catch per rod average was 1.3 fish, and the bulk are coho with most of the fishing fleet heading 20 to 25 miles offshore. Some smaller boats targeting kings were finding a fairly good bite off the beach just north of Ocean Shores.
“Since guys are finding fish again on the beach up north that might change the catch composition, and we might see more chinook,” Beeghly said. “Coast-wide the coho are getting bigger where we are seeing them caught.”
To the north, La Push anglers averaged 1.3 fish per rod, and a little more than half the catch is coho. At Neah Bay, it was 0.7 fish per rod and the coho finally showed up in good numbers.
“At La Push we’re still seeing a good amount of chinook caught, but not a lot of effort,” Beeghly said. “We had been looking closely at the Neah Bay catch since it had been good for mainly chinook, but for the first time this season we have seen about half the catch being coho so hopefully that means the fishery will continue (without any early season closure) up there.”
The much anticipated hype around the Buoy 10 salmon fishery at the Columbia River mouth lived up to early season expectations when it opened last Friday.
“The catch was above where it usually is on the opener at Buoy 10 so that is encouraging,” Beeghly said. “A lot of people showed up, and it was likely from the publicity the fishery got since it is expecting some giants runs of salmon (more than 2.6-million kings and coho are expected to return).”
Boat anglers averaged nearly a salmon kept per boat ay Buoy 10, and chinook comprised of more than 60 percent of the catch. The preseason catch expectation is 45,700 chinook and 56,500 hatchery coho.
“Tuna fishermen are still doing well off the coast, and I saw boats fishing as far out as 40 to 49 miles offshore,” Beeghly said. “That is farther than they’ve been out earlier, but some others are in the 30 mile range and haven’t been doing as well. It is about a five fish per person catch average at both Ilwaco and Westport, and the charters are also doing quite well.”