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NW Summer Salmon Fishing and Need for Selective Fishing

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Hal C
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:31 pm    Post subject: NW Summer Salmon Fishing and Need for Selective Fishing Reply with quote

Tony Floor on the summer salmon runs and the continued need for Selective Fishing. Posted here with permission by Tony and NMTA

Let's Keep the Bus Moving.

Can you say the month of September? I am struggling. How can that be? What happened to summer? I heard a "newsie" say the other day that we are enjoying our fifth wettest summer in history. Enjoy? Especially those wet weekends.

Wet or not, June, July and August are history. As in the books, baby. And how was your salmon fishing the summer? For those in my network, who dedicated the time, they scored.

The coast continues to be a pleasant surprise as Westport produced quality chinook fishing relative to the forecast in July followed by very good coho fishing through August when anglers could locate fin-clipped hatchery coho salmon. Westport will continue to remain open, seven days a week until the cutoff date in mid-September.

Expect the fin-clip rate encounter between wild coho and hatchery coho to decrease. Typically, as we migrate into September, the presence of wild coho increases. The good news is that coho salmon pack on tremendous weight during this stage of their life cycle producing incredibly quality fishing. If you can tie your shoes and brush your teeth, you can catch coho salmon. They are consistently near the surface (in ocean conditions) and are a sucker for a fast spinning bait. When located, I believe you can catch them on a plug cut hot dog if you can make the hot dog spin.

Speaking of coho salmon, Ilwaco was off the chart at the mouth of the Columbia River this past month. At this writing, based on a half-million forecast of coho salmon back to the Columbia, coho salmon are pouring into the mouth of the river known as the Buoy 10 fishery. There are two major stocks of coho salmon bound for the Columbia, an early timed stock peaking on Labor Day weekend (hey, that's now!), and a late timed stock, peaking the first week of October. What are you waiting for?

Chinook fishing in the lower Columbia was lights out, particularly during the 22nd to 24th of August.

Chinook salmon fishing was pretty good in the Strait of Juan de Fuca during July and August too. Places like Freshwater Bay (Pineapple Rock) and the north end of Hein Bank produced incredible catches of hatchery marked chinook salmon. Wish I could rewind the clock. So do you, huh?

If you spent time fishing for chinook salmon in Puget Sound this summer, you made a good decision. The mid-summer hatchery produced chinook salmon fishery in north Puget Sound (Areas 9 and 10) was a winner. I am hoping for a repeat in 2008 but never say never. I am not aware of any discussions or proposals by WDFW regarding selective fisheries in 2008. It concerns me. The 2007 package, resulting in the new selective fisheries for chinook salmon from Pt. Townsend to Tacoma took two years to develop. Everything is quiet for 2008 which probably means it's time for me to go to work. Wait a minute... I am at work.

If you are a regular for this column, you are keenly aware that I am a big proponent of selective fishing. As you may recall, selective fishing is a fish management buzz word for targeting hatchery produced fish, identified by the missing adipose fin on the back of the fish. The adipose fin is located between the dorsal fin and the tail.

I sat through a presentation, on August 21st here in Olympia, by Congressman Norm Dicks speaking to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Norm loves to fish for salmon and he is our quarterback in the evolution to selective fisheries. He called on the Commission to support selective fishing and to further direct WDFW to accelerate the interception of hatchery produced salmon before they intermingle with wild salmon stocks on the gravel beds of Puget Sound rivers. Makes huge sense, if you believe in the protection and attempted restoration of wild salmon, particularly Puget Sound Endangered Species Act protected wild chinook salmon.

So, I encourage you, when you are talking with Fish and Wildlife Commissioners, or Fish and Wildlife director Jeff Koenings, be sure to ask about the plan for 2008. How does the state intend to expand selective fishing? Hello? Can we keep the bus moving please?

My fishing in September will be in Willapa Bay. At least, that's what my fishing calendar suggests for the month of September. At this writing, Willapa Bay has been slow which does not make sense relative to the 30,000 kings forecast. Who hid the Willapa Bay kings? Hey, step away from the cookie jar!

I remain hopeful that they are coming. Labor Day weekend, or early September is the traditional peak entry of Willapa Bay chinook salmon. I like moderate tides and I fish the last three or four hours of the flood and the first hour or so of the flood. Forget the time of the day, go with the tides. These chinook salmon are indigenous to three major salmon hatcheries in the Bay, the Willapa, Nemah and Naselle hatcheries. I like to fish a plug cut herring, seven feet of leader behind six ounces of lead, a foot off the deck. Fish at a moderate trolling speed and it's critical to maintain the foot off the deck strategy. Lots of grass at Willapa and I have not met a chinook salmon yet that likes a lot of salad with their herring. Keep your gear clean. It can be a pain, but, keep it clean.

So, enjoy your last month of September fishing here in the northwest. September is always a transition month, like the weather, between chinook salmon and coho salmon. Fifteen pounds of mint bright, cartwheeling coho salmon is not all that bad, especially, fresh on the barbeque. A little more garlic salt and lemon pepper on my piece, please. See you on the water!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:24 pm    Post subject: Salmon Fishing and Need for Selective Fishing Reply with quote

I just read that the quota for hatchery Chinooks this year was 7,000 and was easily reached with there still being plenty of fish left in Puget Sound. And the fish were good size compared to previous years. Speculation is that next year the quota could be raised to 15,000 to 17,000. Hatchery folks, keep clipping those adipose fins, the system is starting to work.
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