Early coho action described as ‘best fishing in years’

  • By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
  • Wednesday, August 29, 2012 10:30pm
  • Sports

Knowledgeable salmon fishermen are using superlatives to describe early coho action in local waters: “Best fishing I’ve seen in years and years,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood. “One of the best early seasons I’ve seen here in a long time,” said Gary Krein, owner of All Star Charters in Everett. “There have been lots of coho around, and lots of people catching them, since the selective chinook fishery closed.”

Krein put five limits in his boat by 8 a.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, fishing off Edmonds in anywhere from 300 to 600 feet of water and with his ‘riggers at 40 to 60 feet. Hot setup was a flasher or dodger followed by a white squid, on 20 to 21 inches of leader with the dodger, and 28 inches with the Hot Spot flasher.

Krein said most of the silvers seem to be migrating fish, not residents, and running 4 to 9 pounds.

State Fish and Wildlife Department creel samplers checked 163 fishermen Saturday, at the Port of Everett ramp, with 93 coho. On Sunday, at Shilshole in Seattle, it was 177 anglers with 101 fish. Out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 109 fishermen had 124 coho on Sunday, at Olson’s Resort in Sekiu.

All this spells HOT TICKET for the upcoming Edmonds Coho Derby, Sept. 8, sponsored by Sno-King Chapter, Puget Sound Anglers. Last year’s derby provided pretty decent fishing, weighing 284 coho for 806 entrants, but this one could be much better. Top prizes are $5,000, $2,000, and $1,000 cash, and tickets are going for $30, available at All Season Charters in Edmonds; John’s Sporting Goods in Everett; Outdoor Emporium in Seattle; Sportco in Fife; Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens; Ted’s Sport Center and Ed’s Surplus in Lynnwood; and Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville.

There will again be two weigh stations/leaderboards — at the Port of Edmonds, and at Bayside Marine in Everett.

Daniel Humphries of Bothell nailed the 2011 winning coho, a fish of 12 pounds, 12 ounces cleaned weight (what…maybe 16 pounds in the round?), trolling a green flasher and green squid off Double Bluff.

More Sno. Hatchery Chinook

The Tulalip Tribes and WDFW announced last week a new hatchery operations agreement for the Snohomish River basin which should not only provide more summer chinook for both recreational and commercial fisheries, but bring operations more closely into line with ongoing efforts to recover wild-stock kings in Puget Sound.

Under the agreement, release of yearling summer chinook from the state’s Wallace River Hatchery near Sultan will be increased from 250,000 to 500,000 fish, and from the tribe’s Gobin Hatchery, on reservation, from a usual release of about 1.7 million summer chinook to 2.4 million. All these young fish will be from eggs taken at the Wallace River facility, and all will be marked with an adipose fin clip before release.

Under a memorandum of understanding, WDFW will provide the Tulalip Tribes’ rearing facility with 2.4 million chinook eggs from the Wallace River Hatchery each year and, in return, the tribes agreed to make exclusive use of those eggs.

Heather Bartlett, WDFW statewide hatchery manager, said the agreement contributes to salmon recovery by committing both parties to using summer chinook eggs taken from local stocks. That practice reduces risks to wild chinook in Puget Sound listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“At Wallace River, we breed chinook from a combination of wild fish and hatchery stocks that have been allowed to spawn naturally,” Bartlett said. “As a result, we’re moving closer to restoring the genetic integrity of the basin’s salmon runs with each generation of fish we produce.”

Bartlett said the Tulalips at one time raised chinook from Green River stock, but have not done so since at least 2005. Additional cost to the state of providing the tribal facility with 2.4 million eggs will be relatively negligible, she said, since the Wallace facility is already staffed and organized to provide 1.7 million, and has been, for several years.

Bartlett said the Puget Sound Recreational Fishery Enhancement Oversight Committee, a citizen advisory group formed in 1993 to advise the department on improving Puget Sound fishing, likes the idea. “At least in part,” she said, “because a percentage of yearlings out of Wallace have a tendency to remain resident in Puget Sound.”

But avid angler, radio outdoor talk show host and trained fishery biologist Tom Nelson, of Lake Stevens, said there could be thorns in the roses.

“In the long run, I think it will be a great thing,” Nelson said. “But sport fishermen must indeed receive the increased number of returning adult summer kings we’re led to believe we’ll get in this deal. We must, for instance, get the early-May Tulalip Bubble opening that we didn’t get this year, when the fish are fresh and biting. It (a May 4 opening) was scheduled, until a non-public closed-door deal delayed the sport fishery — but not the net fishery — until early June.”

Nelson wondered also whether a higher spawning goal at the Wallace Hatchery — a higher number of adult kings required in the traps to meet the increased egg demand — will all be taken out of the recreational fishermen’s quota.

“It comes down to whether or not we get our fair share of these returning adult summer chinook early enough in the season to be able to harvest them,” Nelson said.

Neither Puget Sound salmon manager Steve Thiesfeld nor Pat Patillo, special assistant to the director, were readily available for comment.

For more hunting and fishing news, visit Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.

Not a bore this time

Generally, a meeting of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is as exciting as watching your toenails grow, but this next one, Sept. 5-6, might be the raucous exception. It’s so promising, in fact, that it’s been moved to the first floor Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, and the usual public phone hookup has been replaced by a TVW broadcast (http://www.tvw.org/).

The commission is the nine-member citizen group, appointed by the Governor, with oversight of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and it’s due to consider three unusually contentious issues at this meeting: wolves, Puget Sound shrimp allocation, and a nasty interagency feud between WDFW and its Oregon counterpart, over Columbia River fishing issues.

Wolf predation and the department’s consideration of lethal removal has generated a veritable flood of citizen e-mails and other responses, according to commissioner Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon. The wolf update is scheduled to start about 1:15, Sept. 5.

The bell rings for the welterweight bout between WDFW director Phil Anderson and his ODFW counterpart about 3 p.m. Sept. 5, over a complicated milieu of salmon and sturgeon, recreational and commercial, political and scientific issues.

The commission winds up with Puget Sound spot shrimp management, the next “crab wars” issue, due to start at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 6.

For more information, phone 360-902-2267; email commission@dfw.wa.gov or tami.lininger@dfw.wa.gov; or on the Web, http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/commission.

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