Humpies refusing to lose steam

  • Wayne Kruse / Outdoor Writer
  • Wednesday, September 5, 2001 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Media types who cover the Seattle Mariners are running out of superlatives, as the team wins game after game, often in dramatic fashion. Ho hum, same old thing, another (you supply the adjective) baseball game.

Unexpectedly, those of us who toil in the outdoors are running into much the same situation, and a pleasant one it is, dealing with a summer salmon season that just won’t quit. The saltwater action on pinks in the Mukilteo area, which should have slowed by now, is still producing quick limits of bright fish. And the Stillaguamish and Snohomish river systems, which opened Saturday, are putting out excellent fishing as well.

Not only that, but what promises to be a good run of coho is right on the heels of the pinks, with silvers already entering the catch in both saltwater and fresh, and chinook are showing on the Samish.

“It’s been red hot for humpies up here since the opener,” said Jack Strege at Triangle Beverage in Snohomish (360-568-4276) on Wednesday, talking about the Snohomish River. “A lot of four-fish limits being taken on most anything pink or red – Buzz Bombs, Zingers, Humpy Specials, Hot Rods, pink feathered jigs – a lot of different stuff.”

Strege said some of the fish up by the forks are darkening, but that most in the lower- to mid-river are still bright and fresh. Bank anglers, he said, are fishing wherever they can get access to the river – at Thomas’ Eddy, below the bridge in Snohomish, and other spots. Boaters are working either the lower end and sloughs, or the mid-river, drifting and casting toward the banks, or backtrolling.

A few coho have entered the catch on the Snohomish, but not yet in numbers worth targeting.

The main-stem Stillaguamish has had problems with visibility, but even then has supported heavy pressure and put out good numbers of pinks. Darrel Kron at Hook, Line &Sinker in Smokey Point (360-651-2204) said it’s a tossup between spoons and marabou jigs for top lure honors, depending on conditions. The best spoons, he said, are Humpy Specials and Wicked Willies.

“I’m hearing that a lot of the fish are hitting lightly, and that you have to pay attention and strike quickly,” Kron said.

The best area has been the lower (tidewater) end of the river, as is usually the case. Kron said a few coho are being taken already, but that they must be released on the Stillaguamish.

Out on the saltchuck, All Star Charters skipper/owner Gary Krein (425-252-4188) said perhaps the bite has slowed slightly, but not enough to make any real difference in its attractiveness to area anglers. “You might call it sane, now, as opposed to total chaos,” Krein said. “And I can’t believe that the vast majority of the fish are still bright. Usually by this point, we’re seeing many of the pinks starting to brown up.”

He said the early morning hours, and the tide changes, are prime time to put your four pinks in the cooler. Wind over the Labor Day weekend scattered the salmon and made fishing difficult, he said, but things were pretty much back to normal by Tuesday.

This large run of pinks has produced a circus atmosphere, and that’s a good thing, according to Tom Nelson, guide and avid angler (

“Saturday’s Snohomish opener was well attended and success was widespread,” he said. “Boat numbers were boosted by wind on the Sound and, indeed, many looked out from 10th Street (Port of Everett launch) and turned upriver, only to meet the Langus launchers, coming downstream. Happily, there are plenty of humpies to go around.”

Nelson said coho are making up perhaps a quarter to a third of the catch being monitored by Department of Fish and Wildlife officials at launch ramp, up to 14 pounds. Anglers targeting specifically on silvers, he said, are using herring or Coyote spoons, early in the morning, as the pinks wait patiently for their turn.

The Skagit remains excellent for pinks and an increasing percentage of coho, Nelson said, but pressure has been fierce. Boat anglers there are using pink or red-head Dick Nite spoons trolled slowly upstream, with an ounce of lead, or back-bouncing Spin N Glo/sand shrimp combinations. Bankers are plunking the latter combo, or casting a lightly weighted Dick Nite.

“And, if you want to try your hand at something a little larger, and you don’t mind standing around in the mud for a few hours, kings are showing on the Samish,” Nelson said. “Next week’s low morning tides should be good.”

Latest state checks: North Beach, Deception Pass, 204 anglers with seven coho and 118 pinks; Cornet Bay, 152 boaters with one chinook, nine coho and 185 pinks, and 123 bank anglers with 21 pinks; Port of Everett, 393 anglers with 14 chinook, 32 coho, and 231 pinks; Edmonds sling, 145 anglers with 140 coho (5 pounds) and 71 pinks; Edmonds fishing pier, 42 anglers with two chinook, two coho and two pinks.

Crab: Crabbing in Marine areas 8-1, 8-2, 12, and that portion of 9 south of Foulweather Bluff was curtailed on Tuesday, and is now open only on Fridays and Saturdays, with a limit of three legal Dungeness crab. The reason, according to state biologist Norm Lemberg in La Conner, is that spring and summer catch rates have been higher than anticipated, and the restrictions are being imposed to stretch the season.

Record fish: This summer’s run of humpies is setting state records almost weekly for the species, according to state biologist Curt Kraemer, who says the top fish will probably end up at about 10 1/2pounds, when verified.

And, up in British Columbia, what could be a new hook-and-line world record for chinook, 99.13 pounds, was caught and released on Aug. 7 by a German tourist, Ingrid Oeder. The woman had never before fished for salmon, according to Tom Bird of the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia. The fish was taken in the Skeena River and weighed by the owner of Kermodei Bear Lodge in Terrace, British Columbia.

Columbia River: Good fishing for coho at buoy 10; chinook just starting to appear on the Hanford Reach, but still lots of steelhead being caught and released.

Doves: The first guns of autumn were afield Saturday for the dove opener in Eastern Washington, and for grouse statewide. Dove success depended on where you were, since weather in the north Basin went sour for opening day, with wind and colder temperatures making hunting difficult. Scattergunners fared better in the south Basin and Yakima Valley, where the weather was more cooperative.

Eastside grouse hunters are having difficulty finding water supplies, and thus birds, in an extremely dry summer.

Top bass: The Washington Bass Association’s Long Lake Tournament, held in late August, was won by Dave Hamack at 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Hamack also took big fish honors at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. Some 17 club members fished, weighing and releasing 34 bass.

Fish on TV: Fisherman’s Heaven, the locally produced fishing show, has started its 2001 fall season on KVOS-TV of Bellingham (Channel 12 over the airwaves, but not available on all area cable systems), Sundays, 1:30 p.m. If you don’t get that cable channel, check to see if there’s another available outlet.

Upcoming segments include Sept. 9, big money Hawaii marlin tournament; Sept. 16, coho and halibut from the Kenai Peninsula; Sept. 23, Trout Unlimited coho derby; Sept. 30, Skagit River system dolly varden and steelhead; Oct. 6, rainbow, cutts and browns from Montana; Oct. 13 pinks on the Skykomish; and much more.

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