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How to Catch Grays Harbor King Salmon - Tony tells it all

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Hal C
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Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Mon Oct 01, 2007 5:12 pm    Post subject: How to Catch Grays Harbor King Salmon - Tony tells it all Reply with quote

Fall is not just for watching Football. Tony Floor makes a convincingly good case for getting off the couch and going salmon fishing. Have your fishing pole handy if you are going to read this! Posted here with permission by Tony and NMTA - The Northwest Marine Trade Association, the oldest and largest regional boating trade organization in the nation.

It's Fall ... Step Away from the Couch!

Feel it in the air? Fall, baby, my favorite season of the year. The chinook and coho salmon are coming home, and in many cases, all ready on the gravel. For some, the pace slows a little as it's easy to hit the thermostat and land on the couch. Don't do it. Step away from the couch! Hook up the boat and follow me. I know where they live and what they like to eat.

For this angler, fall is not the beginning of winter. It's the end of summer. During the past week, I've been spending significant time interpreting tides, currents and run timing for some of the great fall fishing close to home, here in western Washington.

About 15 years ago, in my 50 years of experience fishing in Washington, I was introduced to the shallow water king salmon fishery in Grays Harbor. I have fished the Harbor hard since my introduction, learning fish behaviors, bite patterns and the underwater geography in an ecosystem that hosts some of Washington's biggest king salmon. With five notches on my belt for big kings between 40 and 50 pounds out of Grays Harbor is not impressive in Alaska standards, but, it gets attention here at home. Dude, hooking a big slug in 15 to 20 feet of water should turn anybody's wheel.

To help you be successful in the Grays Harbor salmon fishery, it is important to embrace some fundamental concepts. Like clockwork, these fish perform best on the high water. Buckle up, baby. I call them rod crushers! Time of day, relative to daylight is insignificant. Flood tides are best. There can be a bite on low water, but high water is consistently money. The fishery is open during the entire month of October with a two salmon limit per day and only one can be a chinook (king) salmon. Don't worry about the time of month, as these chinook have a very late timing migrating from the ocean into the Harbor, compared to Puget Sound stocks.

There are three basic areas to do business. I like to fish between the SC Buoy and the "goal posts," about 300 yards east of the SC Buoy. Area two is the John's River estuary east into the South Channel to the first and second group of pilings. And, the third productive area is the north channel up to the mouth of the Little Hoquiam River.

I typically fish a foot off the deck, 6 oz. of lead trailed by a Kone Zone fish flash and six feet of leader with a plug cut herring. Remember, these king salmon like a meal, not a snack. Find the biggest herring available, about the size of an 8-10 inch trout!

The rules this year are two salmon per day. Again, one can be a king and not more than one wild coho salmon in the two salmon limit.

Now, here's the clincher... it's October 1, right? As you are reading this, I am on Grays Harbor, as you would expect I would be, fishing the opener, with a boat-load of gorgeous ladies. I have observed, in my career on the water, that women have a clear advantage over men in the sport of fishing. They are lucky. I can't explain it, there has to be data somewhere about why this is so. I've seen it over and over and over. With that said, or written in this case, by the conclusion of this first day of October, I will know where every chinook and coho salmon lives in Grays Harbor, and, whether or not the forecast meshes with the actual return. Feel sorry for me, or, if it helps, write your frustrated thoughts to "Dear Tony."

Grays Harbor is not the only show in town. Coho salmon, large ocean-run coho salmon, continue to pour down the Strait of Juan de Fuca entering Puget Sound. My salmon network tells me of gang-buster coho fishing during the last week of September that will carry, for a short period of time, into October. And, in many areas blackmouth (immature chinook salmon) opens in many saltwater geographies in Puget Sound. These fish not only represent our winter crop, they translate into mature Chinook salmon (kings) in 2008.

So, do as you will. Turn up the thermostat or put on the Helly Hansons and get outside. Whether you fish from a kayak, drift boat, sled, saltwater aluminum or fiberglass, this is the crescendo of saltwater and freshwater salmon fishing in Washington. I love this game and I really like fall. See you on the water.
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North Liner

Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:14 am    Post subject: Catching salmon in Rivers Reply with quote

Great arrticle. If you decide to try catching salmon in the rivers here a good article from WA State fisheries dept. How to Catch Salmon - Freshwater
Even though it is getting late in the year, you might try the Humptulips, Quilayute or Hoh rivers for chinook, or for coho the Chehalis or Satsop rivers.
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Joined: 17 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:36 pm    Post subject: Chinook Salmon rivers filling up Reply with quote

If you want to see some Kings go check out the Cedar River, lots of returners even some wild ones. Better than many years in the past. According to WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife, the Puyallup and Nisqually are also doing well and may exceed predictions. All good news!
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Joined: 20 Oct 2007
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Location: Aberdeen, WA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Which herring should I use? Green or Black? And also, should I plug cut them or leave them whole? Thanks!
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Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:13 pm    Post subject: Chinook Salmon Fishing Reply with quote

Hello GraysHarborNoob, I have never seen much choice of color when I buy herring. I suppose some of the color might depend upon when they were harvested and where. If you have a choice try a package of each, doesn't cost much and then you'd be covered either way. I like to use the cut plugs when I'm mooching but you will go through more bait. You need to be sure to make your hook-up such that you get plenty of action from the herring. I hook from flesh side out to skin. Just be sure to get a good roll type spin by making a good bevel cut. And get the guts hanging out of the cut cleared away. Just use the edge of your knike and thumb to pull'm out. I like to leave the trailing hook free and not imbedded. I trail it near the tail and it seems to catch them even if the salmon just hit the plug on a fly-by. Be sure to keep the hooks sharp. If you are not seeing some action from hits or strikes, try spraying the herring with WD40. Sounds crazy but it works. I usually don't spay it until I have tried the natural way first since once you spray it you've got that WD40 scent on your gear for the rest of the day! Good luck.
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