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Thursday, June 28, 2012 - Page updated at 06:30 p.m.
This week's best bet for fishing: Chinook salmon off the coast
By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter
The fishing choices are far and wide heading into the Fourth of July holiday.
Chinook salmon continue to make a strong showing off the coast, and it is shaping up to be one of the best early seasons seen in a while.
"The (catch) at Ilwaco was 0.80 per person for chinook, which is super-good, and we saw quite a few limits," said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "They aren't finding a lot of coho at Ilwaco, just good numbers of chinook."
Up the coast at Westport, chinook fishing remains good with a 0.75 fish-per-rod average, with many anglers getting their one-chinook daily limit. Even better news is the fish are hanging just off the Grays Harbor mouth in water 55 to 100 feet deep.
On the north coast at Neah Bay, it was a 0.68 hatchery-marked chinook per-rod average, but just 0.36 at La Push.
Westport is open for chinook and hatchery coho Sundays to Thursdays, and Ilwaco is open daily.
La Push and Neah Bay are open for hatchery chinook fishery through Saturday, and then open for chinook and hatchery coho daily beginning Sunday. Ports could close sooner if quotas are achieved.
Others are eagerly awaiting the hatchery chinook fishery opening in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu to Port Angeles this Sunday. Salmon also become fair game in the San Juan Islands this Sunday.
Locally, northern and central Puget Sound open for coho Sunday, followed by hatchery chinook July 16. Look for coho in the 1- to 4-pound range off Jefferson Head, Point No Point, and the tide rips off Possession Bar and Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend.
Many Puget Sound anglers will also make "combo trips" by adding Dungeness crab into their catch starting Sunday. In Puget Sound and the Strait east of Sekiu, crab fishing will be allowed Thursday to Mondays only.
Tackle shops are having a hard time keeping their shelves stocked with sand shrimp, the hot bait for sockeye in the Lower Skagit River as "sockeye madness" has inflicted plenty of anglers.
"Sockeye fishing has been reasonably good, and while it's not red hot a few guys dialed in have been getting their limits," said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "The river (water level) is really high, and we've got a lot of snowmelt right now."
Bank anglers averaged one sockeye for every 10 hours on the water.
Baker Lake, where many of the Skagit sockeye will eventually end up, also opens Sunday, but this won't turn on until mid-July. Through Monday, 321 fish have been trapped and 168 transferred up to the lake.
On the Columbia River, there are plenty of options, and the fate of others will be decided Thursday when fisheries managers readdress summer chinook runs.
"There is a lot of stuff going on, and (the Lower Columbia) estuary sturgeon fishery is pretty strong along with a good catch of sockeye and steelhead from Longview downstream," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or email@example.com
Fishing report Location Comment Statewide lakes Kokanee fishing remains very good in Lake Chelan east of the Cascades, and in Lake Stevens in Snohomish County. Other fair kokanee bets are Samish and American lakes. Good for bass and walleye in Banks Lake. Potholes Reservoir is fair to good for trout, bass and walleye. Lake Goodwin is good for trout. For details on trout plants in lakes, go to wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/. Biting: Yes
Statewide rivers Slow to fair for steelhead at Reiter Ponds on Upper Skykomish, and for boat anglers from Lewis Street Bridge to Sultan. Slowed for chinook in the Skagit above Rockport and Cascade River; both are open until July 15. Fair for steelhead in the Calawah, Bogachiel, Hoh and Sol Duc. Cedar River is open for trout catch-and-release fishing. Fair to good for shad in Lower Columbia. fair to good for steelhead in the Cowlitz River. Fair for chinook, shad, bass and walleye in John Day Pool of Columbia River. Fair bank fishing for steelhead in the Toutle River South Fork. Biting: Yes
Marine areas Fair for chinook off Edmonds Pier. Improved for hatchery chinook in south central Puget Sound off Tacoma, Southworth and Narrows area. Very good for lingcod and rockfish off Neah Bay. Tulalip terminal fishery is slow, and open Fridays to noon Mondays. Biting: Yes
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