By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
Reels were screaming and landing nets were flashing everywhere in the Sekiu/Port Angeles area Sunday morning, as the sport fleet found smokin’ hot fishing on the eastern Strait’s summer chinook opener.
Not only was this a good thing in its own right, but (lick your lips here) it was a huge call to arms for the upcoming north/central Sound hatchery chinook opener on July 16. If the fish are jumping in the boat off P.A., can Possession Bar be far behind?
State creel checks Sunday at the Port Angeles public ramp on Ediz Hook tallied 129 fishermen in 60 boats with 96 kings, and 127 fishermen in 69 boats at Olson’s Resort in Sekiu with 75 chinook and 21 coho. That’s very good salmon fishing for this part of the west coast. Hell, brother, that would even be good salmon fishing in Sitka.
“Yeah, it’s been pretty much limits for everyone who knows what they’re doing,” said John Richardson at Olson’s on Tuesday morning. He was watching another guy coming up from the docks dragging a pair of kings — these going probably 15 and 20 pounds, he said.
The average weight has been about 12 pounds for hatchery kings, Richardson said, and some culling has been necessary to find two clipped fish.
“But even then, this has been one of the better openers in a long time around here,” he said. “Usually we’re scrounging for fish this time of year.”
He said chinook have been scattered, and that most fishermen are working plug-cut herring, either behind a dodger or a banana sinker. A few of the experts, he said, have been “kelping” in shallow water, trolling or mooching herring tight to shore specifically for larger chinook, down toward Pillar Point and the coal mines.
Gary Krein, owner/skipper of All Star Charters in Everett said the coho catch-and-keep season in areas 9 and 10 opened Sunday as well, two-fish limit, hatchery or wild, to only modest interest. Fishing was good off Jefferson Head, he said, for resident silvers going maybe 2 pounds on the average.
“Several guys took advantage of the coho season to scout for kings on Possession,” Krein said, “and there are indications at least a few fish are there already.”
While the chinook opener in the San Juan Islands could not boast Sekiu/PA numbers, it was still a very successful event. State checks at the Washington Park ramp west of Anacortes on Sunday showed 111 anglers with 36 kings.
The summer recreational crab fishery in most inland waters opened Sunday morning, with a forecast by state fish and wildlife managers predicting a pretty good season but probably not as good as the excellent one last year. And that seems to be about the way the first two days — Sunday, Monday — went down in local waters.
“Overall I think most guys found the opener pretty decent,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood. “The catch was spotty, though, depending on where you went. If you wound up in an area the tribes had worked over, you may not have done as well as some others.”
Launch ramps were crowded, but state biologist Don Velasquez in Mill Creek said wildlife enforcement personnel reported fewer limits locally than on the 2011 opener. And with fewer legal crab apparently available, undersize retention became a prominent issue, he said.
Another issue was an unfortunate overlap of recreational/tribal commercial gear on Sunday, in some parts of Marine Area 8-2. Tribal crabbers “decided to move back into 8-2 for a secondary opening (they had fished the area earlier in their commercial season), because they had quota left,” Velasquez said.
He said tribal crabbers fished Friday and Saturday, and that tribal regulations called for gear to be pulled by 6 p.m. Sunday.
Neither Ray Fryberg, Sr., Tulalip Fish and Wildlife Director, nor Mike McHugh, Shellfish Manager, were immediately available for comment.
The Skagit River is still running high and dirty (the Gardner launch remains closed), but anglers are still managing to boat or bank a fair number of sockeye headed for Baker Lake, said Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington. Bank fishermen have been doing best in the Burlington area, while boaters have fared best farther upstream, around Sedro-Woolley, he said. Both are plunking with Spin N Glo and shrimp or, in some cases, adding a pink mini-squid.
The key remains, John said, fishing tight to the bank in only 2 to 6 feet of water.
As of Monday, about 300 sockeye had been trucked from the Baker Dam trap to Baker Lake, John said, and you can monitor the numbers by going to www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing, then typing in “baker sockeye.” John said his rule of thumb is to not get too excited about hitting Baker Lake until the number of fish transported reaches 3,000-plus.
Even though the kokanee are going deeper, Lake Stevens continues to put out some pretty good fishing. The last couple of weeks have been productive, said Greg Rockenbach at Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens (425-335-1391), for those running the ‘riggers down to 60 or 70 feet and pulling a Dick Nite dodger and a mini or micro squid tipped with either a GULP or live maggot. Popular squid colors include white or pink double-glow, Rockenbach said.
Great Northwest tackle names
I don’t extoll the competition too often, but hey, when a good piece of work shows up of value to traditional outdoor folks, go for it, I say. So in that vein, I highly recommend Ron Judd’s fine piece on the historic Northwest fishing tackle industry and the names associated with it. It ran in the Seattle Times’ Pacific NW magazine on July 1, and you can access online at www.seattletimes.com/pacificnw.
All the big guns are here: Les Davis of Tacoma, and his herring dodger; brothers Phil and Dave Jensen of the Luhr Jensen Company in Hood River, Oregon; Silver Horde in Lynnwood (salmon plugs, spoons, hoochies), one of the few remaining large-scale local tackle manufacturers; Yakima Bait (Rooster Tail, Spin N Glo), at Granger in the lower Yakima Valley, and its iconic promoter/tackle designer Buzz Ramsey; Mack’s Lures in eastern Washington; and local favorite and spoon guru, Dick Nite.
Judd writes about a serious issue — the loss of tackle manufacturing jobs to China — but if you’ve ever pulled a Flatfish for chums, or smoked a batch of pinks in your trusty Little Chief, you’ll want to catch this very entertaining history lesson.
Washington Outdoor Women will offer their popular fall outdoor skills weekend workshop once again, Sept. 14-16 at Camp River Ranch in Carnation. Certified instructors and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife experts will teach participating women skills and natural resource stewardship from a list of some 20 different classes. Campers can choose from archery, basic freshwater fishing, fly fishing, fly tying, kayaking, the basics of big-game hunting, map and compass skills and many more.
This is the 15th year for the workshop and it often sells out. If interested, visit online at www.washingtonoutdoorwomen.org, or call Ronni McGlenn at 425-455-1986.