So the pinks finally showed up in Humpy Hollow late last week, but perhaps not in numbers as strong as odd-year saltwater anglers have become accustomed to. The salmon were late coming down Admiralty Inlet to begin with, and when they did cross Possession Bar to the shoreline south of Mukilteo, the fishing by most reports was good but not great.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife creel checks at the Port of Everett ramp showed 533 anglers on Saturday with 20 coho and 806 pinks; on Sunday, 500 anglers with 16 coho and 596 pinks; and at the Mukilteo ramp on Sunday, 142 with one coho and 218 pinks.
Those success rates are OK, but certainly not gunnysack.
“The fishing starting about Thursday has been more typical than it was earlier,” said All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein in Everett (425-252-4188). “We’ve had several days of pretty good fishing, finally, but probably still not as good as some past seasons.”
Krein recommended a Hot Spot flasher, white or green, with 20 inches of leader and a pink mini-squid. He said to start shallow, early in the morning, at about 40 feet or so, dropping deeper as the light gets brighter. The most productive depth, generally speaking, has been 60 to 80 feet after the first couple of hours of daylight, he said.
The early morning bite has been best, and for about an hour on the incoming tide, just after low slack. The north end of Humpy Hollow, near Mukilteo, has been more productive early in the morning, while the south end from the shipwreck down to Brown’s Bay has been best on the later incoming tide. Peak pink action in Humpy Hollow generally lasts 10 days to two weeks or so, Krein said.
In the Snohomish River system, meanwhile, fishing has been excellent from the get go, and remains so. Guide and Arlington resident Sam Ingram (360-435-9311) has been taking limits by 10 a.m. every day since the Aug. 16 opener on the lower Skykomish, and said by cell phone from the river Wednesday morning that the pinks were still bright and fresh, and that he had seen no signs of spawning activity in the shallows.
Any deeper water, particularly slower, eddy-type holes, should be holding fish, he said, from Monroe down to the confluence with the Snoqualmie. He likes anchoring against the bank in a hole where fish are splashing, and casting to them with a 50-50 brass/nickel or brass/green Dick Nite spoon, and one large or two small split shot for weight on a dropper at the swivel, maybe a quarter-ounce. He also swears that a little Dick Nite Kokanee Gel scent will jack up your success rate substantially.
He said the low-light hours 5:30 to 8:30 a.m. offer the top bite, and that it’s critical to find a hole where the fish are “showing.”
The Skykomish above Monroe opens Saturday, and Ingram said the water just below the mouth of the Sultan should be a sure bet, but that there also will be lots of pinks scattered the rest of the way down. There’s good bank access on that stretch of river, and Ingram said to cruise, looking for jumpers.
It’s possible you could run into a really big humpy, he said, because the fish coming in this summer are from the 2001 age class that produced a couple of state records. Ingram landed a 10-pounder Monday, he said.
Jim Brauch, Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club member, has been having a ball on the Snohomish, catching pinks hand over whatever with light trout tackle and 6-pound leader. He has done well all the way from Snohomish down to and below Lowell, drifting with schools of jumping fish and casting to them with pink, three-eighths ounce lead-head rubber jigs.
Brauch launches at Langus Park and kicks upriver. Lowell would be closer, he said, but the launch there has silted in and become difficult to use.
The main Stillaguamish also opens to pinks Saturday, and anglers north of Everett have been frothing at the mouth, waiting for the whistle. Chris McCallum at Hook, Line &Sinker in Smokey Point said “We’ve had a lot of people asking, waiting, stocking up on gear. From what they’re telling us, every hole on the river is stacked with fish.”
Bank access on the Stilly is limited, and there will be a crowd this weekend at Big Rock (Blue Stilly) above the freeway (off Highway 530 at the fire hall); below the forks in Arlington; at the Department of Fish and Wildlife access just downstream from the Stanwood/Warm Beach road; and at other spots around Silvana.
McCallum said Stilly anglers have been buying No. 1 Dick nites in 50-50; pink 3.5 Wicked Willys; and Humpy Special spoons. The lighter spoons are best fished with a quarter- to half-ounce pencil lead, he said. And while feather and/or rubber jigs are not as popular on the Stillaguamish as they are on the Snohomish and Skykomish, they are still top fish-getters.
And if pinks don’t turn you on, coho fishing over by Kingston has been excellent for several weeks now. All Star Charters guide Nick Kester said he’s started hitting the occasional ocean silver in the 11- or 12-pound class the past few days, along with smaller resident fish.
Samish Kings: The fishery on the lower end of the Samish River for hatchery chinook has started, with recent rains bringing fish in from Samish Bay. This is a strange little fishery in a muddy, not particularly aesthetic environment, but you can’t deny that anglers catch a bunch of nice king salmon there every year. It requires some learning and observation, and the guys at Holiday Market Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361) can fill you in on the details. Different anglers like different tides, but a popular stretch would be the last three or four hours of the outgoing tide, and low slack. Eggs are a good bait, or Vibrax spinners, or marabou jigs in chartreuse with orange head.
Buoy 10: The retention of chinook on the bottom end of the Columbia River was scheduled to run through Sept. 3, and while biologists were scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider the season, it looked like there was enough quota left to last through at least Friday. Catch rates have been running similar to past seasons at buoy 10 from 0.3 kings per rod to 0.1. Through Sunday, an estimated 10,900 anglers have kept 2,300 chinook and 1,700 coho.
Hunting: The first powder smoke of autumn will drift across Eastern Washington grain fields and westside logging roads with Saturday’s dove and grouse opener, and conditions look to be positive. State game biologist Matt Monda in the agency’s Ephrata office said there are “plenty of doves” in his general area, but that success will depend on hunters doing their homework scouting for a day or two ahead of time to see where migratory doves are currently “using.”
Some spots worth checking out would include Lind Coulee, east of Potholes Reservoir; the west edge of the Moses Lake ORV area; and Bridgeport Bar and the wheatfields above Brewster on the Douglas County side of the Columbia.
Ben Holten, a hunting guide from Moses Lake, said both Winchester and Frenchman Hills wasteways in the Potholes area offer a lot of public access and decent numbers of doves.
More hunting: Nine winners have been drawn in a special hunting permit raffle that raised $142,400 to support big game management in the state. The winners were as follows: Steven Guthrie of Raymond, one additional buck in Western Washington; Daniel Cimoch of Sedro-Woolley, one additional buck in Eastern Washington; Laura Schmidt of Concrete, one additional bull elk in Western Washington; Bradley Crocco of Buckley, one additional bull on the eastside; Justin Goff, Bothell, one bighorn ram; Ashton Wolfe, Snohomish, one either-sex moose; Christopher Wilson, Spokane, one either-sex moose; Ernest Myers, Kennewick, one mountain goat; and Mark Cooper, Sparks, Nev., one mountain goat.
Hunters can see how they placed in the raffle by checking the ticket numbers posted on the state Web site: wdfw.wa.gov/cgi-bin/shp_tmp/2007raffle.htm.
Snow geese: The Northwest Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association is considering purchasing a set of snow goose decoys that can be rented by hunters participating in the Fir Island Quality Snow Goose Hunt Program. The club is also putting together a volunteer snow goose quality hunt mentor setup, a sort of “borrow-an-expert” deal whereby experienced club members would sign up to hunt with a requesting permit holder to provide expertise, help carrying and setting up decoys, and other support, in return for getting to hunt on the requestor’s permit.
If you’re a waterfowl hunter but not yet a member of the WWA, you should look into it. There’s lots of good stuff going on. Contact Northwest Chapter president Rone Brewer at 360-652-1264, or e-mail email@example.com.