Monday’s opening of the very popular hatchery chinook fishery in Area 9 presents something of a quandry for local salmon fishermen: either run or trailer west to the Port Townsend area, or stay in home waters and fish either Point No Point or Possession Bar.
The decision could well mean the difference between a nice teen-size king in the box, or zip.
Historically, the best early-season action on clipped chinook has been west of us most years. But occasionally, the fish will be closer to home, and anglers who didn’t want to mount a major safari are rewarded.
Which is it this year? Hard to say, but All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein said a couple of indicators point to at least fair numbers of adult chinook already present in the more accessible parts of Area 9.
One indication, he said, is that several kings were reported hooked incidentally by coho fishermen over the past couple of weeks on Possession Bar. Another is that Nick Kester, the other All Star Charters skipper, hooked five adult kings on Sunday, fishing Point No Point for coho, all at just 40 or 50 feet.
Regardless, there seems to be a nice run coming down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. State Fish and Wildlife Department checks Sunday at the Ediz Hook Port Angeles ramp showed 111 fishermen in 49 boats with 66 chinook — about the same hot fishing that has been available there the past two weeks.
Krein said there will be a strong outgoing tide on the opener, just the kind of water that drift moochers fishing bait at Point No Point prefer. They, along with trollers, will be working from the point westward, into Skunk Bay. There should be fish either on the bottom, where the bait is, in 120 feet of water or so, or relatively shallow — particularly early in the day — at 50 or 60 feet.
Trollers going deep might try plugs, 5-inch Gold Star or Tomic, Krein said, in white or other light colors. Another good bet would be a Kingfisher Lite spoon in cookies ‘n cream, white lightning, or green, behind a green Hot Spot flasher.
On Possession, try the east side on the outgoing tide and the west side on the incoming, shallow during the first couple of hours of daylight or the last hour of dusk, or down at 90 to 150 feet in the bait. Try skimming across the top of the bait balls occasionally, Krein said.
Typically, he said, these fish will be “teeners,” with many going 10 to 20 pounds.
Brewster Pool Chinook
Guide Rod Hammons in Brewster (509-689-2849) said there’s no indication yet that a “thermal barrier” will build at the mouth of the Okanogan River; that the Okanogan is still running high and cold. A temperature structure featuring a low, warm Okanogan typically keeps a nice run of summer chinook hanging in the Brewster pool and more available to fishermen.
“We’ll still catch fish,” Hammons said, “but if they shoot on up the Okanogan, it won’t be a top season. We should start hitting a few in another week or so, but right now most of them are still down at Rock Island.”
A total of 2,660 Baker River sockeye have been trapped at Baker Dam as of July 10, and 330 transferred to Baker Lake. The rule of thumb for decent sockeye fishing in the lake is for a transfer number of 3,000 or 4,000 fish. Monitor the numbers at www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/baker sockeye.
Last year’s record run was 27,195 fish, while the prediction for this year is 35,300.
At the Ballard Locks in Seattle, just under 110,000 Lake Washington sockeye had been counted as of July 9, well over the predicted total run of about 46,000 fish but probably not an indication that a sport season will be opened in Lake Washington. The spawning escapement goal is 350,000 sockeye, and a substantial number above that would be necessary before biologists approve a fishery.
In 2006, for instance, a run of 470,000 fish prompted an 18-day sport season on the lake.
Snohomish coho seminar
Here’s one that doesn’t come around every day — a seminar on plug fishing for coho on the Snohomish River. And if you can think ahead to this fall and imagine cranking big silvers on the Sno, you won’t want to miss it.
The date is Aug. 4, at Tulalip Cabela’s. The seminar starts at 11 a.m. and the presenter is longtime local angler Les “Freespool” Pederson. He’ll detail backtrolling on the big river with Brad’s Wiggler plugs, a system that is not only super-effective, he says, but practically built for beginners, families, and other not-so-expert anglers. A lot of local fishermen know how to fish Dick Nite spoons, but not many are knowledgeable about the fine art of pulling plugs for coho.
Grimes Lake, just north of Jameson Lake, is putting out good fishing for big Lahontan-strain cutthroat now, according to Anton Jones, owner of Darrell &Dad’s Family Guide Service in Chelan. Try chironomids or woolly buggers, fished deeper as temperatures climb.
Ben Cool of Granite Falls won $500 as top dog in the weekly derby sponsored by the Westport Charter Association. Cool fished aboard a charter on Sunday and nailed a 21-pound, 4-ounce chinook.
Got a complaint or a suggestion about local or Columbia River sturgeon fishing opportunities? Attend a public meeting (one of six in western Washington) from 6-8 p.m. July 26 at the Mill Creek office of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It’s no secret that catch guidelines for white sturgeon have declined significantly in recent years,” said Brad James, sturgeon manager for the state. “We would like to hear from the fishing public how they would prefer we structure future seasons and regulations to reflect those changes.”
Contact the Mill Creek office at 425-775-1311.
Okanogan County deer opportunity
Hunters have until mignight Aug. 15 to apply for a chance to hunt deer this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Hunters can submit an application for the limited-entry hunt online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/scotchcreek/ or by calling the calling the agency’s north central region office at 509-754-4624, or headquarters at 360-902-2515 in Olympia.
Eighteen applicants will be drawn randomly Aug. 16: six bowhnters, six muzzleloaders and six modern firearms hunters.
Deer seasons for the area are Sept. 1-28 for bowhunters, Sept. 29-Oct. 7 for muzzleloaders, and Oct. 13-21 for modern firearm hunters.
Results of the drawing will be available on WDFW’s website the last week of August, and successful applicants will receive an access permit and boundary map in the mail.
More hunting on refuges?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed opening one new refuge to hunting and to expand hunting opportunities at 16 national wildlife refuges in 14 states, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho. If approved, the proposal would provide additional public hunting in fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997.
The single entity in Washington which would be affected is the Saddle Mountain (Hanford Reach) National Wildlife Refuge, where the feds would expand migratory bird hunting, upland game hunting and big game hunting areas, along with adding chukar to the program.