Map Highlights Atlantic Salmon Catches; 120K Recovered From Damaged Pens

Cooke Aquaculture says it’s recovered nearly 120,000 Atlantic salmon from a damaged North Sound netpen, while a new WDFW map is showing where and how many of the escapees anglers have caught.

The agency’s website reports that as of 1:31 p.m. this afternoon, 889 have been reported landed everywhere from Ucluelet, BC, to the Samish River to Alki Beach, but mostly along the east side of Cypress Island, where the pen is anchored.


WDFW says it appreciates all the help and reports from anglers, and notes that there’s now a 100-yard “safety zone” around the damaged facility.

Another 20,000 were reported caught over the weekend by Lummi Nation netters.

Work being done today at the site should help determine how many of the 305,000 nonnative salmon that had been raised for market actually got loose.

It provided an unexpected bounty for anglers but also widespread outcry from fishermen and others, and led the state to suspend issuing new permits for more Atlantic salmon netpens before a full review of the spill is done.

Meanwhile, catches appear to be getting tougher, or at least the big numbers from the first few days have faded away as as many as 80 boats have been working the Secret Harbor pen, but we thought we’d pass along so more advice on how to land ’em.

Wayne Heinz spends his summers fishing and crabbing in the San Juans, and he called the angling right after the damage occurred “the best … salmon fishing in decades.”

“They hit Berkley PowerBait brown sparkle dough and also yellow trout eggs,” he tips.

Use a spinning rod setup strung with 12-pound-test clear mono line, a 3/8-ounce sinker and a 5-foot leader, Heinz advises.

“Anchor 30 to 40 feet deep along the rocky shore  by broken pen  among many other boats. Cast. Slow retrieve. Most fish are 6 to 16 feet deep. They fight hard and go aerial,” he says.

Others have done well with spinners, and a Sekiu resort reported landed some on herring.

For more on the ins and outs of angling for Atlantics, check out WDFW’s website for info.

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