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Coho Action and Fish Politics by Tony Floor

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Hal C
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:07 am    Post subject: Coho Action and Fish Politics by Tony Floor Reply with quote

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

Time for the Coho Shuffle

Iím never completely confident when it comes to this time of year. Part of me does not want the summer to go away and the other part leans toward looking ahead, planning to get outside for fall activities. Fall for some, is the greatest time of the year.
It really doesnít matter much whether Iím ready to accept fall or not, as it is happening right now. Thereís a bite in the air, the leaves are turning, and there is more darkness in a 24-hour period than light. That bothers me. And, oh yes, itís wet and getting wetter.
As an optimist, wet doesnít bother me, especially when salmon fishing is as good as it is right now. Bite in the air can be synonymous with bite in the water. And believe me when I say the bite is on.
If you are a frequent reader of this column, and have some level of experience dropping a worm in the water, you know that it has been an incredible summer of salmon fishing. And the parade continues.
I have been pounding the waters of Grays Harbor during the last week and I canít stop. That is not a confession as I have no motive to stop. Last Sunday for example, beginning at 10 in the morning, four of us sent our plug cut baits a short distance behind the boat, in 20 feet of water, fishing at mid-depth. Two hours later, 10 hook-ups and 8 jumbo coho salmon, 12-16 pounds were napping together in the fish cooler. How fun is that! Bring on October as I can do any version of the coho shuffle accompanied by classic rock in the key of salmon. And bite, no way, itís crush! One after another as they continue their aggressive attack on a fast spinning plug cut herring like a 5-year old discovering candy during Halloween.
I have listened to fellow anglers describe similar coho fishing action at Sekiu and Port Angles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Everett and Edmonds areas along with the Lower Columbia River.
Take, for example, the Everett Coho Derby on the weekend of September 19-20. About 1,800 anglers entered 1,400 coho salmon. Those are just the coho salmon that were entered in tournament, not including the fish that were not entered. To put it in perspective, 1,400 coho salmon is not a lot of fish compared to a gillnetter working the same area, but for rod and reel, thatís a lot of coho.
These kinds of sport fisheries are a conclusion to the summer and early fall, many of us have enjoyed this year, a year to remember. Over time in fishing, along with life, I take every year for what it is.....some are good and some or not. Get over it. While biologists, for nearly two years now, have said that the chinook returns are forecasted to be very good in 2010, due to recent healthy ocean conditions. Iím not ready to fast forward to next summer as there is plenty of fall salmon fishing yet to be had.
Grays Harbor will continue to rock in the weeks ahead and the lower Chehalis River along with its tributaries should produce stellar coho fishing. This tune sounds very similar to most major rivers connected to Puget Sound.
And donít overlook the Strait of Juan de Fuca as late coho fishing should remain good from Sekiu to Port Angeles. In discussions with Chris Mohr, at Sekiu recently, anglers are not planning to come his way during the first two weeks of this month. Believe me, it will be a real sleeper as this year of a big coho return, which includes above average sized coho salmon, will continue their migration down the Strait of Juan de Fuca well into October.

Fish Politics

On the political fish side of the news, you may have heard or read about the Fish and Wildlife Commission voting to offer the Fish and Wildlife Directorís position to acting director Phil Anderson. As many anglers know, I worked alongside Phil during the last 10 years of my career at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and outside of the agency during the past 6 years. His challenges are steep and we will learn more in the months ahead as he works with the Commission and their agenda. His challenges are equally significant in building relations with the sport salmon fishing community which is where Philís roots began, as a successful longtime charter boat skipper out of Westport, where he continues to reside. While I have no doubts about his priority for fish and wildlife conservation, I am anxious to get a clearer fix on taking on the issues that the Koenings administration has been unwilling to do. And, we will learn in a reasonably short period of time about where the sport fishing industry and related culture fits in his priorities. Stay tuned.

Finally, if you have not heard, there is a lot of smoke and flames generated by a NOAA-Fisheries proposal to close the west side of San Juan Island to boating and fishing from May through September, effective next year. The issue is Orca whales and NOAA-Fisheries has proposed the closure as an option to provide greater protection during their day to day migration throughout the San Juan Islands in the summer. The closure would affect all sport fishing, along with non-Indian commercial fishermen. For the tribes, of course, itís their ďusual and accustomedĒ fishing area under the provisions of their 1854-5 treaty with the federal government and it will be business as usual.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that there are about 30,000 angler fishing trips (economic value of $140 per day) throughout the Islands during the proposed closure time. Public hearings have occurred, at this writing, in Anacortes and Seattle, with one public hearing remaining in Friday Harbor on October 5th. If the issue interests you, check out the NOAA-Fisheries website and write your letter of concern to the Regional Administrator, NOAA-Fisheries in Seattle. From my viewpoint, closing an area along the shoreline of San Juan Island is not a reasonable solution. A reasonable solution is to participate and encourage the improvement of water quality in Puget Sound. A healthy Puget Sound is good for Orca, salmon, and the people who live in the great Pacific Northwest. Amen.
See you on the water.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Visit Tony's latest post...

"Blackmouth fishing in the Northwest by Tony Floor"
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