By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
A howling horde of humpies has funneled down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, roared across Possession Bar and pulled a hard left at the shipwreck. Now they’re camped in your backyard, ready to dance.
Take advantage of it right away — it’s a limited engagement.
Reports indicate the main body of the odd-year pink salmon run to north Sound rivers arrived late last week and provided solid catch results over the weekend.
Jim Brauch, avid angler and Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club activist, fished with two friends last Friday morning north of the shipwreck and put eight pinks in the box in two hours of fishing. It was a hot morning bite, Brauch said, but it shut down about 10 a.m. — a pattern common to humpy fishing.
Brauch fished out in the shipping channel, and said the pinks were scattered everywhere from the surface down to 100 feet or more. He ran white Hot Shot flashers off his downriggers, with 16 inches of leader, tandem 2/0 hooks, and pink squid. On a surface line, he used 6 ounces of crescent sinker and shortened his leaders to 14 inches.
John Martinis at John’s Sporting Goods in Everett said pinks were four or five days late this year, but when they finally showed up, it was instantly and in big numbers.
“Extraordinary,” Martinis said. “By Monday it was crazy out there.”
He was doing some video work with Gary Krein of All Star Charters, he said, and a family group from the midwest. On Sunday, they hooked 29 pinks and put 12 in the box, and on Monday boated 24 fish for limits around.
They were fishing out of Shilshole Marina in Seattle, but Martinis said other anglers from this area should think about doing it that way. Using I-5, he said, you can drive down, launch and run back to the Edmonds area in just about the same length of time as it would take you to wait in line at a ramp here, launch and run south. The crucial factor, he said, is that there is almost no waiting time involved at the Shilshole ramp.
Reports said that by Monday morning, the water off Edmonds was showing huge schools of pinks “roiling the surface everywhere.” Many fishermen between the shipwreck and Mukilteo reported eight, 10, 12 fish in the boat.
Martinis likes a white, 11-inch flasher, 14 to 16 inches of leader, a single 2/0 red Gamakatsu hook, and a pink, 2.0, Gold Star mini-sardine. “Gary likes longer leaders — something in the 26-inch range,” he said.
On surface lines, they used six ounces of lead and went shorter with an 8-inch flasher.
Some tips from Martinis:
Most anglers fish pinks too close to shore, he says. More productive water is out between the Edmonds/Mukilteo shoreline and Whidbey Island, over 500 or 600 feet of water.
A slow troll of about 1.5 mph is crucial. That’s an average-to-slow walking pace and on a downrigger set at 35 feet, the cable should show a very small angle off the vertical. Flasher or dodger should swing side to side, Martinis says, not turn completely over.
First thing in the morning, set the riggers at 25 and 35 feet, and plan to drop 10 feet per hour as the light increases.
Pinks can be very decent table fare, but you must be prepared to bleed and/or gut them immediately and get them on ice.
This salmon run is ideal for kids and novices. If you don’t have your own kid, take someone else’s.
“I absolutely know that if somebody goes out this weekend, early in the morning, and gives it an honest effort, he won’t be able to not catch pinks,” Martinis said.
The portion of the Snohomish River which had been closed — Highway 9 to the forks — opened Friday and Martinis said it was an instant success.
“A very odd situation,” he said. “Usually, there’s a gap of a week or two between the time the pinks show in saltwater and when they hit the rivers. This time, they showed up in both areas at the same time. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, everybody was hitting fish, all the way to the forks.”
Best fishing is still probably in the lower river, he said, from Lowell upstream. Bank fishermen will be slinging 2.5 Buzz Bombs with a pink mini-sardine behind, or quarter-ounce pink Danielson jigs. And don’t forget that some of the old-fashioned pink or red spoons will still catch fish as well. One, he said, is the pink 3/8-ounce Pot O’ Gold.
Another good option for those without a boat is casting from the beach at Picnic Point County Park, Martinis said. There’s lots of elbow room and the fishing can be as good as or better than that at Bush Point on the west side of Whidbey Island. Use the same Buzz Bomb/mini-sardine setup as the river rig above, he said.
Up north, the Skagit continues to put out pinks despite being dirty from both a North Cascades Highway slide and the usual summer snow melt.
“There’s a ton of fish in the river,” said Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington, “and guys are landing them despite the low visibility conditions.”
Bait is best in dirty water, he said, and plunkers are using a big Spin N Glo, number 4 or larger, with sand shrimp. Good spots include the soccer fields and the trestle in Burlington and Young’s Bar and the Spud Bar in Mount Vernon. Boat anglers are fishing plugs in pink, red or purple, and big red or pink Wicked Willy spoons
Beach fishermen at both North and West Beach, on the outside end of Deception Pass, are taking pinks on Buzz Bombs and Rotators.
A few kings have shown in Samish Bay, and it won’t be long until the Samish River starts producing fall chinook action. It’s also about time for anglers at “the Indian village” on the west side of Guemes Island to start hitting chinook, according to Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington.
Very good fishing currently for a mix of kings and coho on the bottom end of the Columbia. State Fish and Wildlife Department checks of 630-odd boats on Saturday showed 1.8 chinook and 0.05 coho per boat.
Fishing has been so good, in fact – up to 1,600 chinook per day on the lower 18 miles of the river – that, starting tomorrow, wild chinook must be released. Hatchery kings will continue to be legal through Sept. 1, hopefully.