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San Juan Islands' Hot Spots by Tony Floor

 
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Hal C
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:01 pm    Post subject: San Juan Islands' Hot Spots by Tony Floor Reply with quote

- Posted here with permission by Tony and NMTA - The Northwest Marine Trade Association, the oldest and largest regional boating trade organization in the nation.



The San Juan Islands Shuffle, Baby!


I declare winter over. The days are getting longer, the winter has been mild, December and January are in the rear view mirror and the blackmouth are biting, especially in the San Juans.
At this writing, I am locked down with duty at the Seattle Boat Show, the biggest boat show on the west coast. Every day, since the show started on January 29th, I walk in the door ready to talk about salmon fishing and Iím blinded by acres of brand new white fiberglass fishing boats. Ahhhhhhhh, the smell of fresh fiberglass in the morning, just like fresh chinook salmon but different.
If you are a long time reader of the this column, you have witnessed my writings about San Juan Islands blackmouth fishing, particularly during February and March. If you are suspicious that I sell real estate in the San Juans on the side, youíre on the wrong page. To the contrary, living in Olympia, I get to the Islands as fast as I can, by boat or by land, do business for a couple of days, and the bombing run is complete, homeward bound. Call it chinook salmon guerilla warfare.
Fishing in the San Juans at this time of year is plain and simple... itís where they live. Remember the rules of fishing... Rule #1, fish where the fish are. Rule #2, reread Rule #1.
I have also written in this column, about the science of Puget Sound hatchery produced chinook salmon extracted from a microscopic tag, injected into the snout of a small percentage of these fish before they are released into local waters. Once the tag is recovered from salmon hatcheries or from sport and commercial catches, biologists decipher migration and survival information which ultimately guides salmon hatchery practices and production by state, tribal and federal agencies in the salmon hatchery business.
I use this information constantly when developing when and where I intend to invest my Pacific northwest salmon fishing activities. Therefore, when it comes to this time of the year, and bringing home a fresh hatchery produced late winter Chinook salmon, my time and money is in the Islands.
The coded wire tag suggests that hatchery chinook like the Islands as much as I do at this time of year. Blackmouth from throughout Puget Sound, Hood Canal and Canada, according to the tag, love the smorgasbord of chow in the San Juans. Candlefish, herring, squid, zooplankton which include crab and shrimp are all part of a healthy diet for these growing chinook salmon. And, hereís the payoff... these blackmouth become part of my diet! Yeah, baby, some of the best eating salmon in the world!
I network with a lot of anglers who fish these northern waters at this time of year. Networking is important in understanding current trends as the fish move to and through the Islands from December through March. This winter, my network suggests there are fish currently in Guemes Channel, Lopez Pass, the east end of Obstruction Island and from Tide Point to Eagle Bluff. All of these areas are located in the eastern portion of the San Juans, close to boat ramps and slings in Anacortes and Bellingham.
In the central Islands, bread and butter hot spots are in Spring Pass, regardless of tides. A big fish was taken in that area last weekend pushing 25 pounds. Thatís a monster for this time of year and a definite winner for next weekendís Roche Harbor Salmon Invitational fishing derby, offering a cool $10,000 for the biggest hatchery produced (fin-clipped) chinook salmon. Thatís where Iíll hang my hat for this 7th annual event, sold out at 100 boats, two months ago.
When the southerlies or southwesterlies blow in the Islands, I like Rocky Bay, a great winter blackmouth producer that consistently produces quality sized fish protected from the wind.
And, when the weather is ideal, with no wind, try the north end of Middle Bank on an outgoing tide. I like to start on the northeast corner, in about 120-130 feet of water trolling a plug-cut bait on a westerly course (aiming at Victoria) to the U.S.-Canada line which intersects the bank on the northwest corner. Money, baby, in the month of February, nothing but money.
Remember, strategically, as a plug-cut herring angler, I run by bait 20-feet off the clip and downrigger ball, maintaining and managing to stay 5-10 feet off the deck. It is critically important, as a fishing technique, in all of the areas mentioned above. Fish with the current, as slow as possible with a #12 pound downrigger ball, producing an angle of around 20 degrees off vertical when in-gear. Did you hear that? Bingo! Money, baby!
Hope youíll join me in the Islands this month, harvesting a few San Juan Islands hatchery produced chinook salmon. Fire up the barbe, baby, itís time for the San Juan Island shuffle. See you on the water.
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Captain Walker
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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 9:56 am    Post subject: Springtime is here (and soon summer) Reply with quote

Follow Tony Floor's continuing quest for great salmon fishing...
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