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Salmon Fishing Coming to the Pacific NW

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Hal C
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Joined: 09 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:01 pm    Post subject: Salmon Fishing Coming to the Pacific NW Reply with quote

Tony Floor tells us to get ready for great salmon 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.

'The Salmon Parade will start at the end of June'

Predicting the return of salmon stocks from the northern Pacific Ocean is a lot like predicting the weather forecast for this part of the country. Sometimes, and more often than not, the salmon predictions are accurate, however, don’t look far to find a missed forecast.

For this cat, I am a keen follower of the predictions. I have learned, since my first salmon fishing trip out of Westport as a boy, a half a century ago, that following the salmon predictions for the year will pay significant dividends. If a forecast misses the mark, I quickly fast forward to the next chapter in the book of this year’s return, by specie and area. Planning is an important key to success and in a year like 2009, a year that many Northwest anglers will consider their fishing activities under the umbrella of “staycation,” it should be a year to remember.

Last month, in this column, I wrote about the pending completion of the annual salmon season setting process that came to a conclusion during the end of the first week of April. As a player in this process for nearly the last 30 years, I cannot recall a sense of excitement compared to the completion of the process in past years. Baby, if there was ever an application of the phrase “so many fish, so little time,” this is the year.

Therefore, the purpose of this month’s column is to give you a snapshot of the coho, pink and chinook salmon freight train bound for waters of the Pacific Northwest this summer. Make my day.

For the most part, May and June will be relatively quiet for salmon fishing in this part of the world. Yes, their will be a lot of groovin’ to chase halibut on the north coast, along with good opportunities in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. In fact, at this writing, I have learned of some very good halibut fishing on many of the “banks” south and west of San Juan Island. If you want to do the halibut shuffle in Washington, now is the time.

April, May and June is also primo time to fish for lingcod too. From Westport on the central coast, and Neah Bay to southern Puget Sound, it’s a fabulous time to get after the toothy critter. How can something so ugly taste so good! Fresh lingcod, baby, like the old M&M chocolate candy commercials... melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

The salmon parade will start at the end of June with the opening of all four coastal ports (check with WDFW website for specific opening dates). Living in Olympia, Westport and Ilwaco, at the mouth of the Columbia River, are easy destinations to trailer a boat. While fair numbers of king salmon will be available around Westport from the opener throughout the season, there are some related conservation issues in place to protect chinook salmon. But the big news on the coast will be coho salmon. The coho salmon forecast is a cool 1.3 million. The all time record, set in 1986, is 1.8 million. This is the third time, since 1986 that the run forecast has exceeded one million fish. Do you know what 1.3 million coho look like? It will be raining coho salmon.

There are two distinct stocks of coho salmon bound for the Columbia River which fuel the Westport and Ilwaco salmon fisheries this summer. The early timed stock is forecasted at 672,000 fish. This stock enters the river, in peak numbers, in very early September. The late stock forecast, is 369,000, peaking in late September and early October. These two stocks are the vertebrae of summer salmon fishing in Washington during 2009.

And, do not overlook the chinook forecast for the Columbia River. It’s only about 500,000 king salmon which should result in chewing a few props off of angler’s boats. That’s why I use stainless propellers!

If you are beginning to drool on yourself, thinking about the quality of good salmon fishing off the southwest Washington coast, go get a bib because there’s more.

Beginning in mid-August, a bow wave of pink salmon will be creating excitement in the Strait of Juan de Fuca similar to a Trident submarine, running on the surface at full tilt boogie. Many of these pink salmon, 15 million strong, are bound for the Fraser River in southern British Columbia. An additional 5 million will hang a right, out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, passing Port Townsend down Admiralty Inlet and enter Puget Sound. While you’re shopping for new coho rain gear, better invest in some pink salmon rain gear too. The best place to fish for pinks, and catch pinks, is the shoreline south of Everett and Mukilteo called “Humpie Hollow.” Be prepared to carry extra props for this fishery too! The hottest fishing gear to catch a pink salmon is with a Hot Spot flasher, 16-inches of 15-pound leader attached to a small F15 pink plastic squid. I like a slow troll, about 1.5 mph fishing with the tide, in the top 70 feet of water, regardless of depth. Remember, pink salmon have soft mouths so be light on the trigger and while playing these fish. Unlike other salmon species, it is critically important to bleed a freshly caught pink salmon and get it on ice. Otherwise, the flesh of the fish will break down quickly and become soft. Eat is fresh or smoked. It’s wonderful. The daily limit will be four salmon per day, and two of the four can be pink salmon.

Continuing with the good news, 2009 offers a good forecast for Willapa Bay king salmon. I attack this area from Washaway Beach on the northwest corner of the bay, on a flood tide, during the last week of August through the first couple of weeks of September. Concentrate to fish for these big kings a foot off the deck in 15-25 feet of water. When you hook up, it won’t be a bite. It will be a WWF full body slam followed by line sizzling off your reel as if you just hooked an Amtrak train going away. Heavy on the away. Do not overlook the relatively new fishing area between markers 2 and 26, near Tokeland, fishing late during a flood tide the first few hours into the ebb.

Finally, even though it’s mid-spring, I encourage anglers to start thinking about blackmouth chinook fishing in the San Juan Islands next winter. This area enjoyed a significant expansion by two and one-half months of selective fishing for Chinook salmon beginning December 1. For the last 10 years, the San Juan Islands, and many other northern Puget Sound areas opened on February 1. Due to the addition of about one full year of additional chinook salmon selective fishing expansion, in all areas from Sekiu to Olympia, anglers will be back on the water to fish for these hatchery produced, adipose fin clipped fish. This is a big deal to sport salmon fishing in Washington that many anglers have lobbied for since the late 90’s. It happened thanks largely to the direction of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife negotiating team of acting Director Phil Anderson and his lead biologist Pat Pattillo. And, it happened as the result of the engagement of Congressman Norm Dicks, a tireless champion of selective fishing and sport salmon fishing in Washington. He has been relentless in discussions with the Puget Sound tribes, the Fish and Wildlife Department, its Commission and the Governor’s Office. Kudos to a politician who recognizes and cares about Washington’s sport fishing industry.

Welcome to the sport salmon fishing news of 2009. It’s time for staycation and like Briar rabbit once said to Uncle Remus, “No Uncle Remus, don’t throw me into that briar patch!” Please, throw me into the briar patch and I’ll see you on the water.
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Captain Walker
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:53 am    Post subject: Visit Tony's latest article -Summer Salmon Fishing in the NW Reply with quote

Check out Tony's summer 2009 article on the Summer Salmon Season.

Summer Salmon Fishing in the NW
Captain David Walker

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