The ocean salmon season comes online with a splash Saturday, as anglers are treated to a repeat of last year’s experimental selective chinook fishery.
What that means, in essence, is a chance for coastal fishermen to keep two coveted kings (albeit hatchery fish only) per day during the week-long season June 18-25 in all ocean marine areas. Wild chinook and all coho must be released.
On June 26, the fishery reverts to the more usual coastal pattern — hatchery coho and one chinook, wild or hatchery, in a two-salmon daily limit. Areas 3 and 4 remain open daily, but Area 2, Westport, changes to the usual Sunday-through-Thursday schedule.
Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the upcoming season looks pretty good.
“The (commercial) troll fishery has been doing well — not gangbusters, but solid — with about 14,000 chinook landed since May 1,” Milward said. “I’ll be fishing Saturday myself, with a friend of mine, out of Neah Bay, and I expect to catch chinook.”
The season was shortened from last year’s 21/2-week fishery, in which recreational fishermen took about 5,000 kings.
So how popular was the fishery last year?
“Fairly popular,” Milward said. “The catch rates were pretty good, charters reported fairly good bookings, and June is a traditionally good coastal fishing month. The fish last year appeared to be more scattered than usual, however, and we’re hoping they’re a little tighter this year and that the fishermen can find ’em.”
Big triploid rainbow
There has been another large release (whether accidentally or purposely is unclear) of triploid rainbow trout from the net-pen setup on the Columbia River between Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams (Rufus Woods Lake) and reports from the past two weeks have touted very good fishing for ‘bows to 7 or 8 pounds and even larger.
Guide Joe Heinlen of Lake Chelan Adventures and a guide on Rufus Woods (509-393-9665) launched Friday at the Corps of Engineers ramp above Chief Joe and ran upriver about four miles to Brandt’s landing, where he fished the north side of the river. Took numerous fish, he said, to 7 or 8 pounds.
Brewster resident Rod Hammons said a lot of 5-pound trips are being caught, the majority around the net pens, but becoming more available downriver all the time.
Anglers plunking with bait along the south shore upriver from Chief Joe are using corn, shrimp and/or worms with a mini-marshmallow, or Power Bait, while boaters troll Wedding Rings or walleye spinners in green or silver, or just about any standard trout lure. Trolling large, dark flies such as woolly buggers can also be very effective, Hammons said.
Hammons, by the way, guides for salmon and steelhead and mentioned that his available dates for summer chinook in the Brewster pool are filling rapidly. State biologists predict this year’s run to be a strong one, and Hammons expects the fish to be available at Brewster by July 10. Heavy snowmelt this year, however, could keep the Okanogan high and cold, and pull kings out of the Columbia and on upriver quickly. Sportfishermen rely, Hammons said, on the fish holding in the Columbia for a period of time before moving on up the Okanogan or farther up the Columbia.
Contact Hammons at 509-689-2849, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spot shrimp on tap
Enough prawn-sized spot shrimp remain available for harvest in marine areas 7 and 9 to allow the state to open the fishery for additional days, according to Mark O’Toole at the WDFW La Conner office. On June 22, Marine Area 9 opens from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and all of Marine Area 7 will be open. On June 24-25, Area 7 South will remain open, but the rest of Area 7 will close.
Marine Area 7 South includes the Iceberg Point, Salmon Bank and McArthur Bank shrimp fishing grounds, O’Toole said. See the fishing regs for official boundaries.
Anthon Steen at Holiday Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361) said the shop has received another pallet of Friskies Ocean Whitefish canned cat food, a very popular shrimp and crab bait. The 2011 summer Dungeness crab season opens in most parts of Puget Sound on July 1.
Local angler Dave Kosnosky said popular Lake Pearrygin in the Winthrop area is unfishable because of a huge mudslide down the lake’s inlet stream. Part of the state park has been closed due to the mud flow, he said, and the entire lake “looked like chocolate milk.”
On the brighter side, he said, his party fished Alta Lake and took limits for all with a good sprinkling of jumbos in the 14 to 18-inch range, and Spectacle for more limits of nice rainbow going 10 to 13 inches.
Effort and catch below Bonneville dam continues to grow, with the latest state creel checks showing about 3 shad per rod for some 350 bank anglers contacted just below the dam. Some fish were also taken by boaters in the Woodland area, according to state biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver.
Bonneville ladder counts are now in the tens of thousands of fish daily, Hymer said.
Fishing has been fairly good — although up and down — for hatchery chinook on the upper Skagit, according to Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington. With the river high and running strong, John said drifting bait has been more productive than backtrolling plugs. He also said anglers might consider going to heavier gear, because he’s hearing stories of woe about steelhead-weight tackle not able to handle big kings in heavy water.
Chinook are legal from Rockport to Marblemount, but probably the majority are taken in Big Eddy or Little Eddy below the mouth of the Cascade on float and bait.
The first Baker River sockeye of the year has been trapped, and transported to Baker Lake, according to John. “The biologist for the area and the guys at the hatchery are pretty sure we will get a season at least as good as last year,” John said.
He also said the July 1 salmon opener in the San Juan Islands is “usually pretty good in early July, and lingcod fishermen have been seeing lots of bait and seals working. It looks like there should be some fish around.”
Lake Goodwin trout
Lake Goodwin remains a good choice locally for trout fishermen, putting out nice rainbow of 10 to 15 inches or better for bait fishermen around the south end, or boaters trolling dark flies early in the morning.