By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
If your excuse for not boating any salmon during the Edmonds or Everett coho derbies the past two or three weeks is that “the fish seem to be running late this year,” you’ll probably be encouraged by state Fish and Wildlife Department checks at Sekiu over the weekend. Some 180 anglers were contacted at Olson’s Resort on Saturday with 249 coho, and 125 fishermen at Van Riper’s on Sunday with 188 fish.
Those are pretty good numbers, and they certainly indicate more coho coming down the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But whether those silvers will be in a biting mood when they end up in Puget Sound, and where you might find them, are different questions entirely.
“It’s been a very frustrating coho season so far,” said All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein (425-422-4800) in Everett. “We’ve been boating a fish or two a day, but it’s been a struggle.”
Still, checks at the Port of Everett ramp on Saturday showed 221 anglers with 32 coho and, on Sunday, 111 with 13. Certainly not gunnysack, but showing at least a few fish in the local area.
And in freshwater, John Thomas of Rotten Chum Guide Service (425-280-5494) in Snohomish, reported “pretty decent” silver action on the Skykomish over the weekend. He was two for two on Saturday and three for eight on Sunday, trolling plugs. He said the Sky was in pretty decent shape, but that the Snoqualmie was dumping mud into the system and the Snohomish had limited visibility.
“Find jumping fish and troll through them with Wiggle Warts or Fatfish in chartreuse and orange, or drift and cast the plugs to them,” he said. “Number 1 Dick Nites in silver/red, 50/50, or silver/chartreuse will also work.”
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will make an important decision Friday morning in Olympia, choosing one of three options for future Puget Sound Dungeness crab management which sport crabbers hope will increase the percentage allowed the recreational fishery. All three options are consistent with findings by the state Auditor’s Office earlier this year that the current policy for allocating the catch between non-tribal commercials and recreationists will not accommodate the continuing growth in the number of Puget Sound sport crabbers.
The first razor clam dig of the season is tentatively scheduled to begin early next month on five ocean beaches, with additional digs planned through the New Year’s holiday weekend. All digs depend on results of marine toxin tests and approval by state health authorities.
State Fish and Wildlife Department clam manager Dan Ayres said he didn’t foresee any toxin problems this fall and said that while the total coastal population of razor clams is down a little this year, there was a very good crop of young clams.
“That’s good news and bad,” he said. “A higher percentage of small clams might tempt some diggers to “cream” for the larger ones, which results in a wastage problem and a situation we’ll be monitoring.”
When test digs were made earlier this year, clams on Copalis Beach averaged 4.1 inches in June (4.5 inches last year at the same time); 3.7 inches on Mocrocks Beach in July (4.7 inches last year); 4 inches at Kalaloch in July; and 4.1 inches on Long Beach in mid-June.
For the first opening, Twin Harbors is scheduled for four days of digging, Oct. 7-10, with additional opportunity planned Oct. 8-9 at Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch.
Tides are as follows: Oct. 7, minus 1.0 feet at 6:55 p.m.; Oct. 8, minus 1.4 feet at 7:42 p.m.; Oct. 9, minus 1.5 feet at 8:28 p.m.; and Oct. 10, minus 1.3 feet at 9:15 p.m.
Ayres also warned diggers heading to Copalis and Mocrocks of possible delays on eastbound U.S. 101 in Hoquiam due to emergency work on the Simpson Avenue Bridge, the only route to those beaches.
If you’re planning ahead for the popular New Year’s holiday dig, it runs Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 (Fri., Sat., and Sun.). The tides are 0.0 feet at 3:40 p.m. Dec. 31; minus 0.4 feet on Jan. 1; and minus 0.7 feet on Jan. 2.
Prime time for big fall chinook on the last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River, upstream from the Tri-Cities. State checks last week were very good according to state biologist Paul Hoffarth in Pasco: 813 anglers were contacted with 476 kings, a catch 60 percent above last year at this time. Angler participation was also up, Hoffarth said, by about a third.
Avid angler, radio talk show host and Lake Stevens resident Tom Nelson said there are a dozen different ways to fish these “upriver brights” and a lot of water to cover, some of it requiring a jet sled. The best way to learn the fishery, Nelson said, is to hire a guide for a day, and he recommends Jerrod Gibbons, at okanoganvalleyguideservice.com, or 509-429-1714.
Lakes Washington and Sammamish will close to salmon fishing Saturday because state biologists are concerned the coho run to the two lakes and their tributaries may not meet hatchery egg-taking goals.
The lakes will reopen if the run increases in the near future, according to district biologist Aaron Bosworth at the agency’s Mill Creek office.
For more fishing and hunting news, check out Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing