Few chinook found in Marine Area 9

  • By Wayne Kruse, Herald writer
  • Wednesday, January 23, 2008 9:36pm
  • Sports

So there we were last week, floating out on the southwest end of Possession Bar — the area those in the know call the “Tin Shed” — trying to convince a feeder chinook that our Tomic plugs were, in reality, herring. And we were having a bit of a problem with that.

“We” included myself and my longtime friend and sometime fishing partner Richard Bailey of Arlington, in Bailey’s classic GlasPly. Bailey generally fishes the San Juans, or the west side of Vancouver Island these days, but he had just had a new outboard installed and wanted to put some friendly time on it. Besides that, Marine Area 9 had just opened on the 16th to a new and unique selective, two-chinook, winter blackmouth season, and the fishery had been highly anticipated.

We looked forward to putting four nice fish in the box and rehashing old times.

As it turned out, the rehash went well. We hadn’t fished together for a number of years, and it was all Bailey’s fault. For some reason he renounced all that was good and proper and took up scurrilous habits, such as field trialing with his Labradors, shooting geese and pheasant in the Dakotas, and other such disreputable activities. His friends sighed with relief when he came to his senses, slid the GlasPly back in the water, and again found the righteous path.

So we told lies, ate sandwiches, asked after each other’s families, and watched one of the more impressive sights you’re likely to see on north Puget Sound — the Big Boat leaving Naval Station Everett and heading around Possession Bar toward Admiralty Inlet. We were as close as you’re allowed to get to the carrier Lincoln (shepherding Coasties hailed us, politely but very firmly, to please point ourselves northward until the naval vessel had safely passed) and it’s truly an unforgettable experience to get an up-close look at how big the vessel really is, and how fast she really moves.

The weather was good, the water was flat, and — not being completely stupid — we were following Gary Krein’s Morning Star around the ledges and holes that make up the south end of the “outer bar.” Krein owns and operates All Star Charters out of Everett and if there are salmon to be had in Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 or 10, he’s going to find them.

That morning, however, we saw his net out only once, and pretty soon he left. We didn’t leave, but should have, and ended up with only one shaker on our rap sheet. I found out later that Krein had moved to the racetrack, between Hat Island and Camano Head, and had located better fishing.

So it goes. The fine print says one should enjoy the activity for what it really is: a pleasant day on the water, time with friends, a break from the everyday grind, all of which it was.

“Next time, Kruse, we may even catch a salmon,” Bailey said.

And that, in a nutshell, is the story of the selective fishery in Area 9 over the first week of its winter season. State Department of Fish and Wildlife checks at the Port of Everett ramp on Saturday showed 51 fishermen with eight blackmouth, and on Sunday, 37 with 11 fish. Not dismal, perhaps, but not hot either and, considering some of those fish came from Area 8-2, probably not up to preseason expectations. Checks from Area 8-1 were better: Oak Harbor marina on Saturday, four fishermen with four blackmouth; and Maple Grove ramp on Camano Island, Sunday, seven fishermen with five fish.

“Calling it ‘spotty’ so far is being charitable,” Krein said of Area 9. “It’s put out a few nice fish in the 10-pound range but hasn’t been nearly as good as we had anticipated. Area 8-2,in fact, is still probably the better bet for local fishermen.”

He said, however, that tides haven’t been right so far in the “golden triangle” of Possession Bar, Point No Point and Double Bluff to produce optimum fishing. They get better this week, he said, and he looked forward to a spike in the action.

Meanwhile, try the racetrack, or the south end of Saratoga Passage along the Whidbey shoreline, in 80 to 100 feet of water, pulling a yellowtail Coyote spoon behind a flasher, or a 5-inch Tomic plug in glow white/red eye or white/green color patterns. A green spatterback squid behind a flasher has also been a producer this winter.

Show time: The O’Loughlin family brings its annual outdoor extravaganza to the Northwest, starting with the Washington Sportsmen’s Show, which opened Wednesday and will run through Sunday at the Puyallup Fair and Events Center. If Puyallup is a bit too far to drive, you can wait for roughly the same event to run Feb. 21-24 at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe. Or, hey — catch ‘em both if you can’t get your fill of this kind of thing.

The highlight of this year’s show is a bit of nostalgia. The O’Loughlins have resurrected the “indoor steelhead river,” a setup which provides moving water and a series of typical steelhead fishing situations. Experts then demonstrate how best to fish each of the “problems.”

The interesting part of this, for the well-seasoned fishing set at least, is that the steelhead river was for many years a very popular staple of the show when Ed Rice produced it at various venues. Even though steelheading around here isn’t what it once was, I suspect the indoor river attraction will prove a big draw.

Hours for the Puyallup show are noon to 8 p.m. today and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Prices are $10 for adults, $5 for juniors 6-16, and free for kids 5 and under. Discount ticket locations and online discounts are available at www.otshows.com. Parking at the Puyallup fairgrounds is free.

Ice fishing: A couple of days of single-digit temperatures in the Columbia Basin have put ice fishing on the agenda, according to Mike Meseberg at MarDon Resort on Potholes Reservoir. Conditions are still iffy, and vary from one body of water to another, so anglers must look for at least four inches of solid, clear ice and be very careful while venturing out.

The Lind Coulee arm of the big reservoir ices up first, and anglers are hitting some nice yellow perch in the 8- or 9-inch range, Meseberg said, on Swedish Pimple jigs tipped with a maggot, or piece of worm. Walleye can also be taken through the ice there, Meseberg said, on blade baits.

Long Lake, when the ice is good, is an excellent perch fishery, according to Meseberg, and trout fishermen hit the Windmill lakes, Canal Lake, and Heart Lake, all open year-around. For rainbow, Power Bait is most popular, followed by Pautzke eggs or a nightcrawler/mini-marshmallow combo.

For the latest ice conditions call the resort at 1-800-416-2736.

Smelt: The forecast for the Columbia River smelt run is poor this year, but there have been indications the past two weeks that there may soon be at least some recreational dipping available on the lower Cowlitz.

Smelt are always here today, gone tomorrow, but commercial netters have hit a day or two of decent fishing recently in the Columbia, around Puget Island, and state biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver said there were reliable reports of successful recreational dipping Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Gearhart ramp on the Cowlitz, just upstream from the mouth. Water temperatures had dropped by last weekend, however, and Cowlitz dippers reported no luck.

Maybe next week.

Steelhead: The Stillaguamish is holding a few fish, according to Arlington resident and guide Sam Ingram, who took a hatchery keeper of about 6 pounds and released a wild fish of 9 pounds Monday. He fished the mainstem, from Arlington to I-5.

“It was pretty cold, so we waited until it warmed up a tad before we started,” Ingram said. “I guess that shows you don’t have to be on the river at the crack of dawn to catch fish.”

The hatchery brat nailed a cop car Tadpolly, and the wild fish took a diver/shrimp combo.

The Skagit has slowed considerably from a very good several weeks, and the Cascade has been closed because of a dearth of broodstock coming back to the Marblemount Hatchery.

The Skykomish continues to put out the occasional steelhead up by Reiter Ponds, and Ingram said he looks for good wild-fish (release) action on the Sky in February. A few wild fish have already been reported above the Sultan, and warmer water temperatures should bring more fish up the river, Ingram said.

Derby fish: Anthon Steen at Holiday Sports in Burlington said he learned some interesting facts about fish entered in last year’s popular Anacortes Salmon Derby. The top three winners weren’t Canadian fish, or drop-in Columbia River stock, Steen said ­— all three came from local hatcheries. The winner was a spring chinook headed back to the Marblemount Hatchery on the upper Skagit; the second-place fish was going back to a south-Sound hatchery; and the third-place winner was a fall chinook from the Samish Hatchery.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Washington's Sami Reynolds bats during a Women's College World Series game this past June in Oklahoma City. (UW Athletics photo)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Woman of the Year in Sports: Sami Reynolds

The Snohomish grad capped an outstanding five-year career with an All-American season and one of the biggest moments in UW history.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Sept. 18-24

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Sept. 18-24. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Arlington’s Caleb Reed is thrown into the air by lineman Dylan Scott after scoring a touchdown against Ferndale on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep football power rankings after Week 4

Here are our top 8 local teams after all the action from Friday and Saturday.

Monroe’s Mason Davis (1) celebrates with Trent Bublitz (11) after Bublitz’s touchdown reception against Edmonds-Woodway on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at Edmonds School District Stadium in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Reader poll: Make your picks for Week 5 prep football games

Do you think you can beat the experts in our weekly high… Continue reading

The 1987 Cascade boys soccer team poses for a photo in front of the Space Needle in Seattle. (County Sports Hall of Fame photo)
County Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023 bio: 1987 Cascade boys soccer

The 1987 Cascade boys soccer team won the AAA title and kicked off a run of five straight appearances in the state title game.

Prep roundup for Monday, Sept. 25

Prep roundup for Monday, Sept. 25: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III celebrates after scoring against the Carolina Panthers during the second half of Sunday’s game in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Grading the Seahawks in their 37-27 win over the Panthers

Seattle turns in a solid all-around performance in front of the 2013 Super Bowl winners.

Arlington’s defense stuffs Ferndale running back Talan Bungard on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Arlington steamrolls Ferndale in 3A Wesco North showdown

The Eagles light up offense in the first half, finish business to earn a 46-14 win.

Lake Stevens High School head football coach Tom Tri hoists his team’s championship trophy during a community parade and celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Man of the Year in Sports: Tom Tri

The Lake Stevens coach guided the Vikings to Snohomish County’s first large classification football state title in more than 30 years.

Most Read