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Blackmouth fishing in the Northwest by Tony Floor

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Hal C
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:59 pm    Post subject: Blackmouth fishing in the Northwest 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.

Dance begins with the Blackmouth

Iíve got a lot of respect for Webster. When you ask for the definition of a word, he is always right. Look up the word ďBlackmouth.Ē Websterís response: November. Right on.
For those that know me well, I can easily get lift off when I think, talk or go blackmouth fishing. November is a time of the year when the blackmouth, simply a term for an immature chinook salmon, begin to appear in Puget Sound, Hood Canal, the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
These chinook salmon range from 5 to sometimes greater than 20 pounds, particularly in the spring of next year. These blackmouth, at least most of them, will be next summerís king salmon. I like that!
Each year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife releases about 30 million chinook salmon into Puget Sound and Hood Canal, in the spring of their first year of life. Now that itís November, for those chinook that have survived until now, they have nearly completed their first two years of life. Dig me? The fish that we will be fishing for this month are the prodigy of the fall spawn of 2007.
Historically, when WDFW completes their release of these fish, a high majority migrate to the Pacific Ocean and pasture off Vancouver Island and Southeast Alaska. However, some of these migrants jump off the migration train bound for northern waters and invest their life cycle here at home. These fish then become the target for anglers who revere blackmouth fishing like this writer.
The dance starts now and continues into April. And the beauty of this fall and winterís blackmouth season, is that time and area were expanded during the salmon season setting process (North of Falcon) last spring.
It was just a couple of days ago, that I checked in with Gary Krien of All Star Charters who runs boats out of Shilshole and Everett. Gary is considered one of the most successful, long time fishing experts in northern Puget Sound. His total number of hours fishing on Possession Bar, on the south end of Whidbey Island near Edmonds, is similar to the amount of dough in an upcoming --- drawing. He tells me that the blackmouth are living off Jefferson (Jeff) Head right now. I said, right now!
At this writing on November 1st, waters north of Kingston to Pt. Wilson, Port Townsend, including Possession Bar, called Area 9 open to blackmouth fishing. Letís go!
Then, a month from now, on December 1st, the San Juan Islands open to blackmouth fishing all the way until April 30th. These three areas are considered the prime areas for blackmouth fishing. All of these areas enjoy expanded fishing opportunites for hatchery produced chinook salmon thanks again to the results of the 2009 North of Falcon season setting process. The San Juan Islands, for example, have not been open to salmon fishing in December and January since the late 90ís. Oh baby, my home away from home.
There is so much to say about blackmouth fishing technique. Some anglers continue to fish with a plug-cut herring, either mooching or trolled off a downrigger, and others have gone to flashers with spoons or hoochies. Without question, all techniques work as long as they are fished effectively and efficiently. I am a life long salmon moocher, but like many other anglers, have discovered the effectiveness of fishing a plug-cut herring 20 feet behind a downrigger ball. Managing that downrigger ball, to stay between 5-10 feet off the deck is critical, along with offering a tight spinning bait at a slow speed has paid huge dividends for this angler.

Learn Blackmouth Fishing Tips

Constantly, over time I am asked by anglers eager to improve their fishing skills, how they might learn more and improve their success rate. One of the ways is to fish with a guide, or charter boat veteran such as Gary Krien from All Star Charters out of Everett. Or, take an hour or two when youíre not fishing, and attend a fishing seminar.
The Lake Union Sea Ray Stores (Lake Union, Fife, Redmond and Bellingham) are hosting free blackmouth fishing seminars beginning Saturday, November 7th at Lake Union, followed by similar seminars at their other boating and fishing stores on the 14th and 21st. I will be doing my blackmouth fishing dance at Lake Union on the 7th. KIRO Radioís Outdoor Line fishing expert Tom Nelson will speak at the Redmond store on the 14th, along with Capt. Jay Field at the Bellingham store. Tom is an outstanding blackmouth fishing expert and features his approach to the sport with downriggers. Jay is a veteran angler who knows the San Juan Islands like the back of his hand as we fish often together, throughout the year. Finally, on the 21st, at the Fife Store, Capt. John Keizer will share his techniques to successful blackmouth fishing. Again, these seminars are free and a good investment of time to learn more about Puget Sound blackmouth fishing. Call 888-344-3931 for more information and speaking times.

Political Front

On the political fish front, there is a torpedo heading towards the hull of the sport fishing industry called the Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan. The plan focuses on new measures to protect rockfish in Puget Sound which includes potential fishing closures in specific areas, and can apply to salmon fishing, where rockfish are caught incidentally. I encourage all angers to become familiar with the Plan and to provide comments, via e-mail to:
In the meantime, season for season, fall has become my favorite time of year. Hope youíll join me on the saltwater for some great blackmouth fishing in the weeks and months ahead. See you on the water!
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:12 am    Post subject: Follow this story in Winter Blackmouth Fishing Reply with quote

Winter Blackmouth Fishing by Tony Floor
Captain David Walker

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