The best place for the outdoor oriented to be this weekend would still be in a bay boat, chasing winter blackmouth in Area 9 or Area 8-1, particularly with good weather and little wind in the long-range forecast.
Anglers launching at Camano Island State Park and kicking across to the Baby Island/Fox’s Spit trolling slot, just north of the line dividing areas 8-1 and 8-2, have been doing very well recently, and the fish have been a little larger than those on Possession Bar. State Fish and Wildlife Department checks at the Camano launch on Saturday tallied 33 anglers with 10 blackmouth, averaging 6-plus pounds.
That 1-for-3 success rate was echoed on Possession, as 89 anglers were checked at the Port of Everett ramp on the same day with 28 fish, averaging 5 pounds. There are still a lot of shakers being taken, just under the minimum length, but even then this is still the best blackmouth fishing around here in quite a while. Many anglers are finding that plugs – the 5-inch Tomic is an example – will take a smaller percentage of shakers than will either spoons or hoochies.
“If you really want to catch a dirty ol’ black chum, you can probably camp at the mouth of the Wallace or the Sultan in the Skykomish,” says ex-river guide Mike Greenleaf of Everett. “But there’s so little water in the river right now that running it in a boat, even a jet sled, is a dangerous procedure for those without a whole lot of experience. And even factoring in the poor fishing conditions, it doesn’t look like there will be a lot more fish coming this fall.”
Greenleaf said the Skagit is a different story, however.
“Full of chums up that way,” he says, “and a lot of them still have sea lice. Fish the Lyman/Hamilton area, including Lyman Slough, with a sardine-wrapped Kwikfish, or cast from any of the gravel bars in the area.”
The Hoodsport shore fishery on Hood Canal is still pumping out chums, although not in earlier numbers. The latest checks there showed 82 anglers with 22 fish, averaging 12 pounds, on Sunday. Farther down-Sound, Kennedy Creek put out 5 fish for the 12 anglers checked late last week.
“Indications look good,” said Greenleaf, an experienced Cowlitz hand. “If it does come on, plan to get down there, bang elbows with the crowd, and catch fish. Traditionally, the Thanksgiving weekend through Dec. 10 time slot has been some of the best fishing of the winter season. More fish come in later, but that early stock provides the real fireworks.”
There have already been a scattering of winter steelhead taken on the Snohomish and Skykomish, including a chrome 14-pound hatchery buck last weekend at the two-bit hole, and one observer reported at least 40 steelhead in the Fortson Hole on the North Fork Stillaguamish, although most of those are undoubtedly summer-runs.
“This cold snap has helped,” Garrett says. “Hunting picked up considerably when the potholes started to freeze.”
Garrett says ducks are heavily using the Samish Unit (the old “Welts Property” on Samish Bay), the 250 acres of barley on the Lequi Island Unit, near Stanwood, and the west half of the Island Segment, near Wildlife Area headquarters.
“The grain on the west half is flooded now, and we’ll flood the east half in a week or two, to stretch it out,” Garrett said.
Hunters can now report federal migratory bird bands by calling a toll-free number – 1-800-327-BAND (federal bands only). Calls can be made 24 hours a day, and you will, if desired, receive information on when and where the bird was banded. Or report the band to www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl.
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