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Ecology and salmon related articles

Salmon Prospects Solid on the Coast

by Andy Walgamott
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - July 28, 2005

Good news on the salmon front: Ocean temperatures continue to fall to more coho- and king-friendly levels, and fishing will be allowed seven days a week on most of the coast with a two-king bag limit.

"With the offshore breeze and the water cooling, I expect our catch rates to improve," said Doug Milward, ocean fisheries manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Starting tomorrow, you can fish all week out of Ilwaco, Westport and La Push. Until now, the two south coast ports were open Sunday through Thursday with a two-salmon/one-king limit; at La Push, fishing was open Tuesday through Saturday with the same limits.

Sea conditions have been keeping angler effort down -- first tuna-warm waters and then a week and a half of offshore breezes -- even though limits in Ilwaco have been common, according to WDFW's Scott Barber.

Through last Sunday, anglers had taken only fractions of the king and coho sportfishing quotas for those ports.

"Westport will have plenty of fish through mid-September," predicted Mark Cedargreen of the Westport Charterboat Association.

The liberalized seasons, however, don't extend to Neah Bay, where anglers have already caught 44 percent of their 4,300-king quota and 47 percent of their 12,667-coho quota.

"I think with this good weather we're expecting, we'll see good fishing for the weekend," said Joey Lawrence at Big Salmon Resort in Neah Bay. He said a few nice kings in the 30-pound range have come in off the charter boat Windsong, which has been targeting Blue Dot southwest of Cape Flattery, and Barber reports a commercially caught king that, dressed out, weighed in at 48 pounds.

Catch rates have improved on kings, coho and pinks at Sekiu.

"It picked up three days ago, finally," said Val Olson at Olson's Resort, adding that kings are hitting Coyote spoons in army truck; coho are biting herring strips, spoons and green squid; and pinks are hitting anything pink.

Puget Sound: Larry Carpenter at Master Marine in Mount Vernon says that while fishing in the San Juans has been "scratchy," the numbers of kings and pinks are increasing. Try the west side of the islands and Secret Harbor.

Inside Puget Sound, king fishing picked up over last weekend in the Seattle area, and some anglers found baitfish and a very hot resident silver bite off Jeff Head. Tacoma king counts remain low, though some coho are around. Pinks open in Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 on Aug. 1.

Rivers: Local steelhead rivers continue to be plagued by low water, hot temps and poor returns.

"Everything I'm hearing is that fishing is still slow," said biologist Chad Jackson at WDFW's Mountlake Terrace office. "Everyone's waiting for the pinks to swarm in."

The Reiter Ponds area of the Skykomish remains closed until further notice due to low returns of hatchery summer steelhead. The state needs at least 350 adult fish to meet broodstock goals; as of Monday, only 148 had returned.

For better river fishing, you'll need to burn some gas. As steelhead counts increase over Bonneville Dam, target Drano Lake, the mouth of the White Salmon and Oregon's Herman and Eagle creeks with shrimp or prawns, or head east for upper Columbia kings. Bob Fately at the Triangle Shell in Brewster said fishing has picked up at the mouth of the Okanogan River. Big fish so far this year is a 35.75-pounder, though most are 10-20 pounds. Cut-plug herring behind a silver dodger is the ticket for most guys, he said.

If you trailer over, make sure to pack some bass gear. Fately said the best fishing on kings is at first light, which leaves a lot of the day to burn, so go up into the Okanogan where there's plenty of bass and, he says, "The smallmouth bass fishing is incredible."

Sockeye: A hoped-for sockeye season on Lake Wenatchee is a no-go due to low returns. WDFW had hoped to open a fishery for a second consecutive year, but fish counts in Tumwater Canyon indicate the return will come in below escapement goals.

Andy Walgamott is the editor of Washington Fishing & Hunting News.
Salmon Prospects Solid on the Coast
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 28, 2005

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