This has quietly become a very good squid jigging season, according to Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood (425-743-9505), and it should remain that way through the end of the year. Piers ringing central Puget Sound — Edmonds south to Seattle and up the Kitsap Peninsula — are all putting out the makings of a calamari stir-fry at limit or near-limit levels for knowledgeable jiggers.
The Edmonds facility usually stands in the middle of the list of Puget Sound squid producers — not great, but pretty fair jigging in a top year such as this one.
The majority of squid are harvested at night or on overcast evenings, but Chamberlain said even daytime jigging is worth a shot in a good squid year. An incoming or high tide is usually considered prime time.
The best jiggers almost all use some type of personal light source, shining downward into their fishing area, to attract squid schools. With no battery setup or generator, you may have to use a bribe. Ask to share a generator and offer a couple of bucks to help pay for gas, or offer a sandwich, a beverage or a half-dozen homemade cookies. You get the picture.
Worst case scenario, you may have to resort to begging. Hard on the ego, yes, but all’s fair in love, war and calamari.
“Don’t hesitate to ask questions,” Chamberlain says. “Most of these people are pretty good folks.”
Squid jigs are available at most tackle shops this time of year in a range of sizes, weights and colors. Many experienced squidders like to make their own, but if you’re buying, try a mylar-type product in pink or red, weighing one-half to one ounce. Some squidders like to put a smaller, but heavier, jig on the bottom of the rig and a larger, lighter, one, 12 to 18 inches above that.
Use light trout-weight tackle and about 6-pound test mono throughout.
There is no season or minimum size on squid, but each person’s harvest must be kept in a separate container. The daily limit is 5 quarts or 10 pounds.
“When the Skykomish drops into shape, we’ll probably have the best fishing we’re likely to get this year,” Mike Chamberlain (above) said, “and most of that harvest will be up around the Reiter Ponds area. That’s not an ideal situation, but these winter fish shoot through to the upper end in a hurry and the chances of intercepting one at Monroe or Sultan are not great. Steelheading as we knew it is dead.”
But there are winter steelhead in the river. Chamberlain said he had reports of the first few fish being taken about two weeks ago, and that an increasing number have been caught since.
There are fresh winter steelhead in the Bogachiel, according to Kevin Hinchen at Forks Outfitters in Forks (360-374-6161), but area rivers have been so high and dirty that anglers have not been able to get at them. Steelhead are showing up at the Forks Hatchery every day, and they usually come in big-time the weekend after Thanksgiving, he said.
When the Bogy drops, Hinchen said one of the best spots for the bank fisherman is at the mouth of the Calawah, or across from the mouth, at a spot called the Tall Timber Hole, a hike of about a mile and a half from the hatchery.
The standard gear will again be popular, Hinchen said: eggs, shrimp, Corky and yarn, float and jig in pink, red or orange.
The salmon season was a bust in the Forks area, Hinchen said, mostly because of poor timing between the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the weather. “When the rivers were in good fishing shape, the state shut them down, and vice-versa,” he said.
The state has shut down the Cowlitz River’s early winter steelhead run, according to Karen Glaser at the Barrier Dam Campground (360-985-2495), so there are few fish available in the river right now, except for coho. The river was high but fishable early this week, and Glaser said anglers below the barrier dam were catching coho in the 8- to 12-pound range, many still in good condition.
Popular gear includes twitching jigs, Blue Fox spinners and Corky/yarn.
A state creel check last week counted 18 bank anglers with one jack and eight adult coho kept, and seven adult coho released. River flows on the North Fork Lewis were at 11,600 cubic feet per second, almost twice the long term average for this date.
Marine Area 9 remained closed to fishing as of Tuesday, so charter skipper Gary Krein (425-422-4800) and other local salmon anglers headed south to Area 10. And they’re finding good blackmouth action in traditional spots such as Jefferson Head. Plenty of bait, fewer shakers and positive numbers of feeder chinook in the 4- and 5-pound range, Krein said.
To cut down on the number of sublegal chinook “encounters,” Krein continues to use 5- and 6-inch pugs, Nos. 602 and 603, both mother-of-pearl variations, fished on the bottom in 130 to 150 feet of water.
Krein, a sportfishing activist for many years, said he has heard no scuttlebutt from the state about the possibility of reopening Area 9.