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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

November 5, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Tony Floor digs into his tackle box and comes up with wide range of fishing options

10621026_10204574880880809_889613877_nHere is Tony Floor’s Tackle Box report for October:

As a lifelong Northwesterner, I know about November. Dodging the wind and rain is a way of life. It’s just like living in Maui, but different.

Going negative seems to turn into an epidemic among my fishing buddies, as memories of being outside chasing chinook and coho seem to fade, thanks to the Pineapple Express, and low pressure systems, one after another, bombard us relentlessly. Thank God I have a lot of pictures that put a grin back on my face from successful summer fishing trips. Let ‘er rip.

No matter how I attempt to spin it, November can be a challenge to get out on the water. Yet, with that said, there is a lot to do to stay active, whether it be chasing saltwater and freshwater salmon, soaking the crab pot or digging razor clams down at the coast.

Let’s start with the saltwater. I know that’s shocking to you! I confess that I am a saltwater junkie. It is and continues to be my life. I love it. Boating, fishing, remember, it’s just a job!

Winter chinook fishing is on the eve of really taking off. November offers limited areas to be successful, but there are some — Saratoga Passage, northern Puget Sound (Area 9), central Sound (Area 10), south Sound (Areas 11 and 13) and Hood Canal (Area 12).

While none of these areas are similar to fishing success in the lower Columbia River in mid-August, they offer decent opportunities to hook up into winter blackmouth that will keep me occupied for the next five and a half months. And the catching will get better and better each month, which it has for decades as we proceed through the winter.

As I’ve written many times in this space, I try to fish the San Juan Islands during the winter months, as time, weather and fishing reports dictate. The Islands open on Dec. 1, with a two-fish limit and hatchery-produced (fin-clipped) chinook only.

As I have also written, when talking about winter blackmouth fishing, I highly recommend sending an email or making a phone call to Derek Floyd, Angler’s Choice guide service, or one of the many other guides who fish and know the formula to be successful in the San Juans. For me, trailering my Osprey out of Olympia, it’s an easy decision. “Yo Derek! Got any space for this ‘ol boy?”

November also offers incredible freshwater salmon fishing, especially following a freshet triggering Puget Sound and coastal rivers back into fishing shape. I have the privilege of jumping into one of my Olympia buddies’ sleds or drift boats and head for the Satsop, Chehalis or Humptulips rivers. Casting spinners on the edge of brush piles, logs or woody debris for huge coho is a blast. Wiggle warts or sardine-wrapped Kwikfish plugs are extremely effective and to witness the strike, while the rod is in the holder, with the tip vibrating from the action of the plug, is a heart-stopper.

Late last September, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced 41 days of razor clam digging beginning Oct. 7 through the end of the year. Shellfish biologists say there are about a million more razor clams on the beach compared with this past winter and spring season. Check out the WDFW website for beach openings as they differ from area to area.

Finally, the Dungeness crab winter season is underway, beginning Oct. 1. Two areas did not open, Area 10 (north tip of Vashon Island north to the north end of Bainbridge Island) and Area 11 (Tacoma Narrows Bridge north to the north tip of Vashon Island). Sorry about that, as the non-Indian (sport and commercial) catch quota for the year was achieved last summer. Therefore, all areas open to crabbing will remain open seven days a week through the end of December.

Adios October and bring on November for salmon fishing, crabbing, clamming and oh yeah, Thanksgiving turkey. See you on the water.

(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.)






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