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Salmon Seasons Open, but Fishing Typically Slow

by Greg Johnston
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 6, 2006

Coho generally more prevalent than chinook

Ocean salmon seasons opened over the past week in unspectacular fashion, with only Ilwaco out of the four coastal ports producing good fishing. Salmon seasons are also now well under way on the inside marine waters, and the fish aren't exactly jumping into the boat there, either.

Ocean waters off La Push and Neah Bay opened Friday, and what success salmon anglers have had there has been well offshore, with poor fishing reported on close-in waters. Westport and Ilwaco on the south coast opened Monday, with tough fishing for primarily chinook reported at the former and good fishing for coho reported at the latter.

"Not every boat limited (two salmon per angler) on the first day, but I've got two boats into the dock already today, so it's good," Milt Gudgell of Ilwaco's Pacific Salmon Charters said Wednesday morning.

"It's mostly coho, and they're pretty darned decent for this time of year, mostly 5- to 6-pounders with an occasional 8-pounder."

The Westport charterboat fleet had to scratch for any fish it caught on the opener Monday, but catches were better Tuesday and Wednesday. Up north, larger boats out of La Push and Neah Bay were finding some chinook, but mostly coho, at two spots well offshore, Umatilla Reef and Blue Dot. Good coho catches were reported off Neah Bay at Duncan Rock, just outside of Cape Flattery.

The waters off Neah Bay inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which can be very good for chinook and coho, have been slow.

It's the same story farther inside. The selective fishery for marked chinook off Sekiu has been slow, with only a few boats reporting decent catches, and state sampling data show there aren't many coho there yet.

About the only decent reports on the inland waters are coming from the San Juan Islands, most of which opened to salmon fishing Saturday. Fair catches of chinook have been reported around Cypress, Blakely and Orcas islands and the west shore of San Juan, where a 52-pouinder was reportedly taken over the weekend.

"The saltwater has actually been pretty decent," said Anthon Steen at Holiday Market Sports in Burlington. "(Tuesday) night we were out and got a 20-pounder. Opening morning we went out and got one about 15. A friend who used to work at Roche Harbor said they weighed a 52-pounder off the west side of San Juan."

Chinook do not appear to be abundant elsewhere on the inside waters. Catch area 10 locally opened Saturday, and had been opened on a catch-and-release basis two weeks prior, but reports indicate few chinook.

Anglers are reporting good numbers of coho at times in area 10, however, especially on the opener, and they appear a bit fatter than most years for resident coho, running 3 to 5 pounds compared to the usual 2 to 3. Most of the coho are coming from Jefferson Head or West Point.

To the south, fair fishing for chinook is being reported in the Tacoma region off the Slag Pile, Clay Banks and Point Dalco.

Greg Johnston
Salmon Seasons Open, but Fishing Typically Slow
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 6, 2006

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