All indications point toward a great summer for salmon fishing | Outdoors
You'd be a fool to shell out big money for a trip to Alaska this summer, when the odds of hooking salmon in our neck of the woods will be...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.
You'd be a fool to shell out big money for a trip to Alaska this summer, when the odds of hooking salmon in our neck of the woods will be as equally rewarding.
"Why do you need to go elsewhere to find good salmon fishing when you can just stay close to home," said Pat Pattillo, the assistant to the director of state Fish and Wildlife. "I'm really upbeat from what we've seen in our early salmon fisheries."
The coastal salmon fisheries off Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay will see a nice silver lining of salmon migrating through with about 651,000 fall chinook predicted to enter the Columbia River.
Add another 1.6-million chinook heading to the Klamath River system in Oregon, and 800,000 destined for the Sacramento River in California, and you've got super long train of kings streaming by all summer.
Further boosting the Washington chinook outlook is the Canadian and Alaskan fisheries won't be intercepting fish at the same high rate as they did last year.
"We should have a pretty good year for chinook, but our coho numbers for the Columbia will be down (317,000 is forecast, which is 45,000 less than 2011) although the coastal (river) coho figures look pretty good," said Doug Milward, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager.
Despite the downer in Columbia River coho, the nontribal commercial chinook trollers who've been out fishing since May 1 have reported seeing quite a bit of nice-sized coho in the ocean.
The ports of Westport and Ilwaco opened on June 9-23 for an early hatchery-marked chinook fishery, and 1,300 kings were caught the first two days for a 1.5 fish per rod average.
"The (June 9) opener was really good and it was a nice start to the season, and we saw a lot of (two hatchery chinook daily) limits," said Wendy Beeghly, the state Fish and Wildlife coastal biologist. "The average size was 10 to 12 pounds. The boats weren't going out very far, and found fish just outside of Grays Harbor off Ocean Shores and the south jetty."
The La Push and Neah Bay early hatchery chinook season opened on Saturday, and fishing is allowed daily until June 30.
The chinook and hatchery coho season off Westport is open June 24-Sept. 30 with fishing allowed Sundays to Thursdays. Ilwaco will be open daily June 23-Sept. 30. Neah Bay and La Push will be open daily July 1-Sept. 30. Each port has specific catch quotas, and might close sooner if those are achieved.
The late summer Buoy-10 chinook fishery at the Columbia River mouth always generates plenty of attention, and is open Aug. 1-Sept. 3. The run peaks by the third week of August.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu to Port Angeles opens July 1 for hatchery chinook and coho. This fishery has been fairly consistent the past few years, and should be the same this summer.
The late coho fishery off Sekiu from Sept. 16-30 commonly produces big "hook nosed" coho exceeding 15 pounds, and then from Oct. 1-31 anglers can also keep one chinook in a daily limit.
In northern and central Puget Sound, the catch quotas for hatchery-marked chinook has been lifted for the second time since its conception in 2007, and is open July 16-Aug. 31.
Selective fishing is where anglers catch only those salmon with a missing adipose fin, indicating they are of hatchery origin while releasing wild fish of concern.
Try off Port Townsend, Point No Point, Possession Bar, Pilot Point, Edmonds to Richmond Beach, Jefferson Head, Kingston, west side of Bainbridge Island, Dolphin Point, Southworth and Point Monroe.
South central Puget Sound should offer a good hatchery-marked chinook fishery, and has ranked in the top three catch areas the past two decades. The hatchery mark rate is about 70 percent.
Those with enough energy left as summer wanes should head to the salmon parade in late August and early September at Willapa Bay where a relatively strong return of 45,739 chinook is forecast.
For the first time since 2007, the Grays Harbor area will have a one-chinook daily limit from Sept. 16-Oct. 7, and anglers should see some big brawny kings caught in this fishery. Later the Chehalis River mainstem opens for kings Oct. 1-31. Also, the coho return to Grays Harbor is a staggering 184,235.
The San Juan Islands open for chinook July 1, and the challenge in salmon fishing the island chain is the diverse geography, and knowing where the fish hang out.
The best chinook catches will likely occur off Blakely Pass, Cypress Island, Lopez Pass and Fidalgo. Also try Rosario Strait, Thatcher Pass, The Caves below Tide Point, Point Lawrence, Hummer Hole in Sucia Pass, Presidents Channel, Haro Strait, the north end of Orcas Island at Point Doughty and Thompson Point near Parker Reef.
Shore-bound anglers in Puget Sound can also find some decent salmon fishing by tossing jigs off the piers at Edmonds, Seacrest at West Seattle and at Terminal 86 in the Elliott Bay.
Hood Canal south of Ayock Point opens July 1 for hatchery chinook, and the western shore from Ayock to Lilliwaup and Hoodsport cranks up for kings at the end of July and the first week of August. The coho fishery is decent in mid-August around Quilcene Bay.
Modest chinook forecasts are predicted for southern Puget Sound hatcheries. Target kings in late July and August at Point Gibson, the entrance to Chambers Creek, the Nisqually Delta off green buoy and the mouth of McAllister Creek.
The Puget Sound coho fishery was decent during midsummer last season off places like Jefferson Head and Shilshole Bay, and should pick up heading into this fall as a forecast of 732,363 coho (981,216 last year) floods in.
• A section the Comet Falls Trail in Mount Rainier National Park has been temporarily closed about one mile beyond the trailhead due to an extremely hazardous conditions from a washout due to recent heavy rain. Park trail crews plan to access the area next week to create a safe route around the washout. Hikers in high elevation areas should also be cautious of hazardous unstable snow and ice, and swift flowing rivers and creeks. Details: www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/trails-and-backcountry-camp-conditions.htm.
• The International Federation of Fly Fishers is hosting an International Fly Fishing Fair July 12-14 at the Spokane Convention Center. See more than 90 workshops and clinics on casting, fly tying, and on-water fishing techniques taught by well-known instructors. Expert fly-fishing authors will also be signing books, and giving presentations and workshops. In addition, more than 110 fly tiers will be demonstrating their artistic work.
The fair will feature exhibits with the latest in gear, outfitters, conservation information and other topics. There will be a casting pond to try the latest rod and reel as well kids' activities. Details: www.fedflyfisher.org.
• The Northwest Mountain School in Leavenworth offers a variety of climbing programs and extended mountain climbs throughout the summer. For details, visit www.mountainschool.com or 509-548-5823.
• Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters is offering a beginning fly casting class 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 26. Cost is $50. Instructors are Darrel Martin, certified by the Federation of Fly-Fishers and the Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructors and Michael Martin. Details: 253-835-4100.
• The premiere screening of the documentary film "Where The Yellowstone Goes" is 7 p.m. June 21 at the Harvard Exit Theatre in Seattle. The film follows a 30-day drift-boat fly-fishing trip last August and September on the Yellowstone River from Gardiner, Mont., to the confluence of the Missouri River at Fort Buford, N.D., which covers almost 600 miles. This section of the river is known as one of the best "Blue Ribbon" trout fly-fishing rivers in the world. Cost is $12. Details: www.landmarktheatres.com or www.wheretheyellowstonegoes.com.
• The Washington Parks and Recreation summer natural and cultural history interpretive programs are at Larrabee State Park, 245 Chuckanut Drive in Bellingham. Dr. Marilyn Boysen will lead the programs June 30, July 14, Aug. 11 and Sept. 1. A Discover Pass is required to attend the programs. Details: www.parks.wa.gov/events.
• The Orvis Store in Bellevue at 10223 N.E. 10th Street is offering free fly-fishing lessons through July. Each class consists of one hour of casting instruction followed by one hour of rigging. Attendees will receive a $25 coupon off any purchase of $50 or more toward Orvis gear. Each participant will also get a free Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers membership. Details: www.orvis.com/ff101.
• Seattle Parks and Recreation is offering low cost life jackets July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Evans Pool, 7201 E. Green Lake Dr. North in Seattle. Cost for infant to youth large is $20, and for teens to adults is $30. Details: 206-684-7440.
• The Washington Waterfowl Association in the Yakima Valley is hosting the Washington State Duck Calling Championship 7 a.m. Aug. 25 at Columbia Park in Kennewick. For details, call 509-786-9196.
• The state Department of Natural Resources has opened the Tiger Mountain State Forest mountain bike trails. The trails provide mountain biking opportunities for all skill levels. The trails are located at the Iverson Railroad Grade, Northwest Timber and Preston Railroad Grade trails. Details: http://tinyurl.com/tigermtn.
• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.
• Mount St. Helens climbing permits are on sale. Permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet. Details: 360-891-5007 or www.mshinstitute.org.
• Issaquah Alps Trails Club has weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.
• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and conditions. Details: www.wta.org.
• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org