By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
The big Everett coho salmon derby storms into town this weekend, putting 600 or 700 fishing boats on the water in the Everett-Edmonds area, and while the chances of the winning fish being caught from the Edmonds public fishing pier are slim to none, the odds of several coho being caught on the pier this weekend — derby or no derby — are pretty good.
And the pier folks don’t have thousands of dollars and countless hours invested in boat leaks, motors that won’t start, flat trailer tires, insurance, registration and horrendous crowds at the launch ramps on this the weekend of what is said to be the largest salmon derby on the west coast.
It has been an outrageously good coho season so far in local saltwater, and Edmonds pier fishers have been taking their share of “silvers.”
“Great fishing. Lots of limits,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center (425-743-9505) in Lynnwood.
Tie on a Buzz Bomb, walk out on the pier, sling a cast way out there, and you’re coho fishing.
While the big run of silvers is the current attraction, the Edmonds pier offers a wide range of free recreational fishing attractions pretty much year-around, from shrimp to king salmon. The pier has parking, which can be a little dicey if you don’t read the signs, or if you park for more than, say, four hours, Chamberlain said. It also has restrooms, ADA access, lights, rain cover, and a fish cleaning station. It roughly parallels the Port of Edmonds north breakwater, south of the ferry terminal, at 200 Admiral Way in Edmonds.
Except for salmon, seasons and limits for other species are the same on the pier as they are for Marine Area 9 in the general saltwater regulations pamphlet, free at most tackle shops and marinas. Single, barbless hooks are the rule on the pier, as well as in the Sound in general.
But one other important point, Chamberlain said: while most of the regular anglers on the pier are great folks, ready to offer advice to newcomers and share space and special pier landing nets, there is a definite etiquette involved and a sometime pecking order. Take a few minutes to observe who’s fishing how and where, before pushing to the rail. Ask questions. Start slowly. Learn.
Chamberlain offered this calendar of pier opportunities:
Available most of the year, from small, resident fish going a couple of pounds in May to 5 pounds or so by the end of August. Migratory adults start showing in late August and the run peaks around Sept. 21 or 22, averaging 4 to 7 or 8 pounds in weight, with a few much larger.
Cast Buzz Bomb 3X8 or similar weighted spoons in pearl blue, pearl green, pearl pink, charteuse, or holographic models. Some anglers are pulling a small hoochie over the single siwash hook with some success, Chamberlain said. The south half of the pier is most popular with salmon fishers, but not always the most productive.
Most knowledgeable salmon anglers use revolving spool “bait casting” reels, but a saltwater model spinning rod/reel works fine and is a lot easier for most novices to master. That’s important, because casting distance makes a difference on the pier. Chamberlain recommends 15 to 20-pound test monofilament line, or 30-pound Spectra.
Kings are the biggest draw among pier regulars, Chamberlain said, and again they’re available year-round, from smallish feeder “blackmouth” during the winter months to 20-plus pound migrating adults in the summer. Adult chinook start showing in late May and peak from about July 10 to the end of August.
“It’s not unusual during the peak of the chinook season to see 20- or 30-fish days on the pier,” Chamberlain said.
The state Fish and Wildlife Department has granted pier fishers a bonus, allowing chinook fishing year-round, regardless of closures in Marine Area 9, one king daily, hatchery or wild, in a two-salmon limit.
Popular chinook lures include Point Wilson darts, Gibbs Minnows, and Pucci Lazer Minnows in pearl white, pearl green, black/silver or, in early morning hours, glow colors.
Chamberlain said another popular salmon technique is to put a plug-cut or whole herring under a float, cast it out, and let it work in wave and tidal movement. A problem with this is that it tends to get in the way of anglers casting lures, so it’s usually done at the ends of the pier where the rig can drift away from other activity, depending on wind and tidal run direction.
During odd-year pink salmon runs, quite a few of these 3- to 8- or 9-pound “humpies” are taken on the pier, from early August through about the middle of September. Few fishermen actually target the pinks, Chamberlain said, and most are caught incidentally by chinook anglers.
Some nice lings are caught off the pier, most from around the artificial reef which lies west of the pier, from about mid-pier to the south end, Chamberlain said. Ling season is short, usually opening May 1 for about a month and a half, and Chamberlain said serious pier anglers concentrate on the first week of the season.
Lead-head jigs with rubber worms are popular lures, usually in darker colors such as black, “motor oil,” and brown/green shades. Even better is live bait — pogies, sanddabs — on a slider rig.
Rockfish, sometimes hooked when ling fishing, are closed in all of Puget Sound.
PILE &SHINER PERCH
A fairly popular fishery, dropping a one- or two-hook bait rig, #6 or #4 hooks, using mussels, clams or shrimp for bait, around rocks and pilings. Not as plentiful as they once were, but nice on the table.
Red rock crab (along the whole pier) and a few Dungeness (mostly north end) are taken during regular crab seasons, mostly using ring traps or the popular castable (with heavy spinning gear) traps.
No large, prawn-size spot shrimp here to speak of, but fair numbers of several smaller species collectively called “dock shrimp” by those who fish for them. Spot shrimp and “others” have separate seasons; check the regulation pamphlet.
Chamberlain said most pier fishers fashion their own traps from hardware cloth — two-foot or three-foot rectangles with an open top and bait wired to the bottom. They’re pulled every 15 or 20 minutes.
Fair fishing off and on when schools come through, but different timing than at such smelt hot spots as Cornet Bay or Oak Harbor. Chamberlain said summer is best at the Edmonds pier, and hitting a school is mostly by chance or word of mouth. Reasonably-priced strings of 7 Gamakatsu feather hooks, number 4 or 5, are standard.
There’s a pretty good squid jigging at times, late fall through January. However, it has become a fairly sophisticated fishery, sometimes involving lights and specially-made jigs by a handful of “hobbyists” who sometimes peddle their homemade lures on the pier. Names such as Gings, Coleman and one or two more are significantly better squid producers than the true commercial lures, Chamberlain said.