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Fall Salmon Fishing in the NW by Tony Floor

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Hal C
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Joined: 09 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:29 am    Post subject: Fall Salmon Fishing in the NW by Tony Floor Reply with quote

"Good-bye to the kings and hello to the coho" - Tony gets us ready for fall fishing! Posted here with permission by Tony and NMTA - The Northwest Marine Trade Association, the oldest and largest regional boating trade organization in the nation.

So long summer... What's on the horizon?

As I sat down to this writing, I took a look back at my column written one year ago and got a fresh perspective of the summer of 2007 and what to expect in the fall of 2008. One of the interesting points of that column, was my whining about how wet our summer had been. According to the weather gurus, it was the fifth wettest in history. Oh really? I heard recently that this August was over three times wetter than normal. Gotta be global warming and we may be on the edge of doom. Global warming is one those interesting subjects in todayís culture. Either you believe it or you donít and it seems to be clearly linked to an individualís political views. Huh? When did day-to-day weather get political? I tend to walk lightly on the issue, as itís like religion and politics.

September, as you may know unless you live in a cave, is traditionally a time of year when we say farewell to summer and hello to fall. Salmon fishing was good to me this summer with trips to Sitka and Sea Otter Sound on Prince of Wales Island in June. Ferrier Reef near Tahsis, on the northwest corner of Vancouver Island and a fishing spot called the Twin Peaks (how can you go wrong with a name like that) delivered good catches of halibut, lingcod and king salmon in July for this cat.

August provided a return to Cape Flattery and Neah Bay, whacking king salmon in 30-feet of water just outside the surf line near Spike Rock and on to Table Top for husky somersaulting coho salmon providing great memories. It was especially gratifying to introduce salmon fishing to a first time angler, Molly Gacetta of Olympia, who spanked Neah Bayís finest chinook and coho salmon in mid-August. Sharing knowledge of salmon fishing, and introducing new anglers to the sport is a natural high for me. Then, it was on to the lower Columbia River to exchange punches with returning adult chinook and coho salmon. Oh yeah baby, rods crushed to the water and line screaming off the reel. Itís my favorite tune.

This past Labor Day weekend, I spent most of the weekend drowning a herring in Willapa Bay and working the Willapa Bay Salmon Derby. My hopes, since the salmon forecasts were made public last March, have been high for a good sport salmon fishery in Willapa this season. While catches were respectable in mid-August with some early arriving big king salmon up to 42 pounds, it has been very slow since that time. I guess Willapa Bay and relative poor catches remind me that this business is based on inexact science. The predictions are nothing more than predictions, similar to the weather forecasts which means it may or may not be accurate. If you think salmon forecasts should be accurate, well, history shows that science is again, inexact. Peak entry of king salmon into Willapa Bay is Labor Day weekend. Although the adjacent ocean salmon catches out of Westport are also lackluster, my optimism about Willapa coming on strong is ebbing. The Willapa Bay gillnetters begin their season Sunday night, September 14, so, we still have a few weeks remaining to do business before the Bay is hammered by curtains of monofilament.

Mid-September is also a time to think about Puget Sound coho conducting their annual stampede down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Last year, mid-September was white hot at Sekiu for ocean run coho. If you donít have a reservation at Sekiu, your only option is sleeping in a tree or on the hood of your car. Every square inch of real estate at Sekiu is booked for this annual event and after the incredible catching last September when big coho salmon were eating the props off boats, I expect a similar phenomena this year. If you donít have plans to be there, please donít light your hair on fire when reading about this amazing fishery in the Seattle Times.

Beyond September is clearly a time to think about coho salmon. I like to do my saltwater coho fishing in Grays Harbor, which as proven, it produces the largest coho salmon in the state. When the coho salmon size record is broken, which has occurred several times in the last 20 years, it usually is a coho salmon bound for the Satsop River, a tributary to the Chehalis River and Grays Harbor. My read, is to expect larger than normal coho salmon this year. History will show, when the abundance is less than normal, such as 2008 in most areas, the coho tend to be larger. When greater than normal returns occur, the coho are usually smaller than their mature average of 8 pounds. Itís simply a factor of food. More fish eat more food. Fewer fish have the privilege of less competition for food. See, you didnít know you had a degree in fish biology did you?

So, good-bye summer of í08 and hello fall. Good-bye to the kings and hello to the coho. Thereís a good six weeks of weather-friendly saltwater salmon fishing remaining on my schedule and I intend to do my part to keep those hatchery fin-clipped fish off the wild fish spawning grounds. Come on and join me. See you on the saltwater.
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Captain Walker
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: Follow up Tony in the Fall Reply with quote

Late fall to winter fishing is here in Puget Sound.

Follow up with Tony and The Season of Change & November Blackmouth
Captain David Walker

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