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Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Page updated at 06:30 p.m.
Sockeye leads plentiful summer fishing options
By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter
The summer fishing season has shifted into high gear with good opportunities all across the state for a wide variety of fish species.
Sockeye fishing has been off-the-charts good on Baker Lake and east of the Cascades in the Upper Columbia River at Brewster and Wanapum.
"It looks like the forecast is bigger than predicted, and right now we're settling on 39,000 sockeye for the Baker," said Brett Barkdull, a biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Sockeye numbers at the trap have been up and down, and the very high water flows in the Baker River may have some effect on how the fish are entering the fish trap."
Through July 23, 10,227 sockeye have been transferred up to the lake with a total of 15,764 trapped. Fishing in Baker Lake has improved, with most fish caught just 25 to 35 feet deep.
Sockeye fishing is great in the Brewster Pool on Upper Columbia River, above Rocky Reach, below Wells Dam and below the Okanogan River mouth. The morning bite is best, and usually slows down by midmorning.
The hatchery king fishery in northern Puget Sound remains fair to good with the best spot being Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend. Runners-up on the action are Possession Bar, Skunk Bay, Double Bluff off South Whidbey Island, Pilot Point and Point No Point.
Central Puget Sound is also open for hatchery chinook fishing, but is off-and-on at Kingston, Jefferson Head, West Point south of Shilshole Bay, Point Monroe, Yeomalt Point, Southworth and Dolphin Point off Vashon Island.
Those looking for a river option should head to the Skykomish River where the hatchery-king fishing is optimal as well as the summer steelhead bite throughout open sections up to Reiter Ponds.
The coastal salmon fishery is fair to good, and tuna were within target range off the southern coast.
Westport anglers averaged 0.85 salmon per rod, and a little more than half of that catch was made up of chinook. At La Push and Neah Bay, anglers averaged 0.94 fish per rod this past week, and just over half the catch was coho.
Westport, which is currently open Sundays through Thursdays only, will be open daily for salmon fishing beginning Aug. 3.
At Ilwaco, the catch-per-rod average was 0.70, and hatchery coho outnumbered chinook by a 3-to-1 margin.
Private and charter boats out of Westport and Ilwaco are heading out to catch tuna about 40 miles offshore. Private boat anglers were less successful, with a one tuna per rod average, while charters hooked five to eight per rod.
• All sport fishing for rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod and all other bottom-fish closes after Thursday off the North Coast at La Push and the portion west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line off Neah Bay to protect yelloweye rockfish that are a federally protected species. Fishing for most bottom-fish species is generally open year-round.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or email@example.com
Fishing report Location Comment Statewide lakes Good for perch and bass in Lake Washington and Sammamish. Fair to good for kokanee in Stevens, American and Samish lakes. Try for trout in Lake Shoecraft and Lake Goodwin. Wapato Lake is decent for crappie and bluegill. Good for large lake trout in Lake Chelan. Potholes Reservoir is fair to good for trout, bass and walleye. Soda Lake is worth a try for walleye. Swift Reservoir was planted with 1,275 rainbows averaging 6 pounds, and 2,605 averaging 1.5 pounds on July 16. Takhlakh Lake was planted with 376 rainbows averaging 3 pounds on July 18. Goose Lake north of Carson will get a plant of 2,000 catchable cutthroat trout next week. Biting: Yes
Statewide rivers "Lots of summer steelhead caught (in Lower Columbia River), and we sampled almost 1,000 fish kept or released," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
Good for steelhead and a few chinook in the Cowlitz. Fair in the North Fork Lewis for steelhead. Fair for steelhead in White Salmon River mouth and the Husum area. Fair for sturgeon in the Lower Columbia from Vancouver to Longview; open Thursdays to Saturdays for catch-and-keep fishing. Some steelhead and chinook caught in The Dalles Pool of Columbia River.
"At Sekiu the chinook numbers have dropped and coho have picked up," said Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife sampler in the Strait. "The coho aren't that big (3 to 5 pounds) with an occasional 7- or 8-pounder showing up in the catches."
Slow to fair for kings in the San Juan Islands. A few kings caught off the Edmonds Pier. Slow to fair for hatchery kings off Tacoma and the Narrows area. Slow for salmon in Hood Canal south of Ayock Point. Another minus-low tide series begins this Sunday, and will expose beaches to shellfish gathering. Excellent for Dungeness crabs in Puget Sound, Hood Canal and south part of San Juan Islands, and all are open Thursdays through Mondays only.
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