"Actually, I was a little disappointed," he said, of what he and other experienced anglers thought would be the first productive weekend of this summer's pink salmon run. August 10th had been bandied about as the rule of thumb start of humpy madness, but the weekend turned out underwhelming in most places.
"There were some fish caught in different areas," Chamberlain, owner of Ted's Sport Center in Lynnwood, said, "but probably not in the numbers we would have expected."
He described the action as sort of hit and miss, and said, "We should be seeing far better results than this. I guess we're just not quite there yet."
Early results two weeks ago in Humpy Hollow had been encouraging, but that surge of fish apparently dried up. Beach fishermen on the west side of Whidbey Island also reported slow, or at least slower, fishing, as did North Beach anglers at the north end of the island, and fishermen working the Skagit River. Chamberlain said there were a few pinks taken at Picnic Point and a couple off the Mukilteo beach, but again not what had been expected at this point in the run.
Hopefully, he said, the reports that pink fishing has been very good in the Port Angeles area could mean we're still in line for a humpy bonanza. Preferably soon.
On a brighter note, he said anglers on the Edmonds Pier had probably their best two days of the year for chinook, Saturday and Sunday, landing 12 the first day and at least a half-dozen the next.
And even though there are reports of pinks already at Reiter Ponds on the upper Skykomish, only a scattering of fish have been caught on the Snohomish system.
State Fish and Wildlife Department creel checks at Olson's Resort in Sekiu on Sunday showed 256 anglers with 30 chinook, 59 coho, and 201 pinks. At the Washington Park ramp in Anacortes, it was 48 anglers with 9 chinook and 21 pinks, and at the Cornet Bay ramp near Deception Pass, it was 56 anglers with 4 chinook and 25 pinks. Some 40 anglers at North Beach had 8 humpies.
Closer to home, checks at the Port of Everett ramp tallied 360 fishermen with 7 chinook, 9 coho, and 141 pinks, while at the Mukilteo ramp it was 146 anglers with 44 pinks.
State biologist Brett Barkdull said the Baker Lake sockeye run was also somewhat of a disappointment this year, with the run well past its peak now and only about a third of the fish in the lake that there were last year at this time.
"It's been pretty slow fishing," he said. "The numbers just never did come in, and we'll probably top out at about an 18,000-fish run, compared to 48,000 last year."
Barkdull said creel checkers recorded only one day this year when fishermen landed 1,000 sockeye or more. Last year, there were "a bunch of those days," he said.
Still, there are fish in the lake to be had, and Barkdull expects perhaps 500 salmon still to come. The lure of choice remains a size "0" big ring dodger with a small pink mini-squid, and the best depth is still about 40 to 60 feet.
"There's opportunity left for the die-hards," he said.
The odds are a little better than that on Lake Wenatchee, the other ongoing summer sockeye fishery in the general area. The lake opened Aug. 3, and WDFW biologist Travis Maitland said that about 4,100 salmon had been harvested through last weekend. That leaves about 2,000 fish in the quota, he said, which will probably support a fishery through this week and possibly through the weekend.
"Overall it's been pretty good fishing," Maitland said. "Checks showed an average of 1.8 fish per rod at times, and over the weekend it was still up there around 1.5 per person or so. Some of the fish are starting to color up, but I think it's still worth showing up for."
For closure information, check out the agency website, www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/sockeye/emergency rule changes.
Maitland said that, as usual, most of the fishing was taking place at the lake's upper end, off the mouths of the tributary streams. Standard setup, he said, was a "0" size dodger or flasher, tandem-tied red or black hooks, and a pink or red mini-squid. Anglers were finding the best fishing at depths of 40 to 80 feet.
Maitland said Tumwater Dam counts indicate the run will end up at 29,000 to 30,000 fish or so.
Organizers of the first-ever speed-crabbing derby late last month said the event was eminently successful, pulling 25 teams of either three or four crabbers. The winning team went by the name "Carpe Cancer," or, freely translated from the Latin, "Seize the Crab," I guess.
After an 8 a.m. start, the team checked in early, at 11:05 a.m., with 9 crab making up the winning total weight. The team also had the lunker of the day, a Dungeness weighing 2.56 pounds.
Eddie Adams, event organizer, said most of the entrants kept mum about their favorite honey hole, but that the south end of Hat Island and the north end of Mission Bar seemed to be putting out fair numbers of crab.
Next year, Adams said, the event will benefit the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
See more at www.speedcrabbing.com or find Puget Sound Speed-Crabbing on Facebook.
San Juan salmon
Pink fishing has been only fair on the west side of San Juan Island, according to Kevin John, manager of Holiday Sports in Burlington, but the king fishery continues to be pretty good. Good spots have included Eagle Point, Pile Point, Secret Harbor, Point Lawrence and Obstruction Pass.
John said Coho Killer spoons are a good bet but that the really hot lures have been squids and flies. "I would take a serious look at bucktails if I were making a trip this week," he said. "They're flying off the shelf and the guys in the know are looking for whites and greens."
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse's blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.
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