by Mark Yuasa
Salmon fishing continues to perplex anglers from the coast to Puget Sound.
Some are pointing the finger at warm-water conditions. Others say it is simply a lack of salmon migrating back because of bad marine survival. Others are holding out hope that the runs are simply late this summer.
Whatever the case, there are some worthwhile options to look at like the coastal ports of Neah Bay and La Push.
"Neah Bay was pretty good on Saturday, and I saw 40 anglers with 10 chinook, 50 coho and two pinks," said Scott Barbour, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "There was lots of bait out by the red can right off Tatoosh."
At Neah Bay, the majority of anglers are heading way out into the ocean to find the fish at places like the Table Top, Blue Dot and the Prairie. Closer in, Umatilla Reef and Waadah Island are spotty.
Down south at Westport and Ilwaco, the warm water conditions are pushing in fish that aren't normally found in this region.
"We have seen a ton of blue sharks, mackerel and albacore tuna," said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "I've heard rumors of blue-water conditions close in near the beach, which means there is not a lot of upwelling in the ocean."
Some charters were changing over from salmon to tuna fishing just 18 miles from port.
Private boat anglers at Westport were averaging about two-thirds of a salmon per rod, and almost all are chinook. Charter anglers were averaging about a fish per rod on Monday and Tuesday, although fishing on Sunday was pretty tough. The Goldfish Bowl, about 20 miles west of Westport, was one of the better spots.
"At Ilwaco, anglers are doing well mainly on coho, but there are a lot more chinook showing up in catches compared to years past," Beeghly said. "The coho were averaging 5 to 6 pounds, which is really good for this time of year." In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Sekiu to Port Angeles, it is lousy for hatchery-marked kings, but improving for coho and pinks.
"Fishing is a little better this week, but overall on a zero to 10 scale I'd rate it a four," said Gary Ryan, manager of Van Riper's in Sekiu. "But if you are specifically targeting kings, I'd rate it a two. The bright note is more humpies [pinks] and silvers are showing up, plus halibut fishing remains pretty good."
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