Tag Archives: chum salmon

Grinches Illegally Netting Chums Get Coal, And A Trip To Jail

If your house is anything like mine, there’s been plenty of Christmas cheer of late as the lights and tree go up, advent calendars start yielding goodies, and Bing and Harry get us in the spirit of the season.

The folks at WDFW’s Enforcement Division are also feeling it, and today posted news of yet another case of illegal netting, this time roughly set to The Night Before Christmas.

To wit:

T’was a typical day for Officer Jewett on patrol, but his peek under the bridge wasn’t for trolls

Skookum Creek isn’t much of a creek, but it attracts its share of wrongdoing creeps

(WDFW)

When he noticed a car parked alongside of the road, he sensed numerous violations of fishing codes

“Not today!” the officer thought, as he set out sneakily for the poachers to be caught

He watched the two robbers under Kamilche Lane; For unlawful netting, these two were to blame

After seeing plenty they were put into cuffs, t’was the least of their problems – they had other bad stuff

With felony warrants for their arrest, accommodations in jail seemed for the best.

Happy Holidays from Fish and Wildlife Police!

Indeed, happy holidays, officers – and keep up the great work!

Woof! Hood Canal, South Sound Dog Salmon Forecasts Upped Sharply

Puget Sound pinks stinked it up this year, but that’s not the case with their close relatives, chums.

State managers are now expecting twice as many of the salmon as originally predicted to return to Hood Canal, and they’ve upped their expectations to southern Sound rivers as well.

KATE SAYLES CAUGHT THIS CHUM OFF SEATTLE’S WEST POINT DURING 2013’S RUN. SHE WAS FISHING WITH CLAY SCHURMAN. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Bottom line, we’ve got many more, er, dogs in the fight this fall, and November’s the prime month. Grab a copy of our latest issue for tips from Jason Brooks on how to take advantage of the fishery!

WDFW’s Aaron Dufault says 947,000 chums are now forecast to return to Area 12 waters such as the Hoodsport Hatchery, the Skokomish River and other tribs, up from March’s 493,000. Another inseason update is coming next week.

And the agency is managing state commercial fisheries in the South and Central Sound as if 800,000 will return to rivers there, well above preseason expectations (432,000).

Some models are even spitting out forecasts of 1.1 million from the Duwamish south, but not everyone’s on board with the new predictions, so WDFW will manage the fishery conservatively as chums down here are primarily wild.

Though a terrific salmon to battle in the salt and streams, as well as smokable, chums are primarily harvested in commercial fisheries, and my email’s been flooded this fall with tribal fishing regulation updates.

Dufault says managers are seeing “some of the highest catches we’ve ever seen.”

Love or loath the net fleets, it’s probably a good thing that at least one salmon stock is bucking recent trends, especially in light of this year’s woeful pink return.

JASON BROOKS’ NOVEMBER ISSUE SOUTH SOUND COLUMN IN NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN HAS TIPS FOR CATCHING CHUMS.

Relatively speaking, chums and pinks are fairly closely related, use the rivers just for spawning, and spend nearly all their time in saltwater.

However, where the latter stock only lives for two years, the former are much longer lived.

That might explain why 2017’s dogs are doing so much better than humpies.

Dufault notes that this year’s adults are the progeny of chums that came back in fall 2012, ’13 and ’14, years of relatively good autumn river conditions compared to 2015’s disastrous four floods for pinks.

It’s possible the young chums then found good forage somewhere outside of The Blob, which otherwise crushed salmon stocks in the North Pacific in 2014 and 2015, with hangover effects lingering into this year.

As for North Sound chum runs, without fisheries on them due to low runs for several years now, returns aren’t being tracked as well, says Dufault.

He says there’s “no smoking gun” for why Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish and other stocks are struggling, even as runs in systems that are far more degraded are doing relatively well. Testing found they’re unaffected by stormwater runoff that kills coho.

Yuasa: Blackmouth, Chums, Razor Clams, More On Tap This Month

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

In the blink of an eye summer has ended, and while fall is ushering in iffy weather and waning daylight hours that shouldn’t stop anglers from venturing out on the water.

First and foremost are the decent chances this month to hook a winter blackmouth in northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9), eastside of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2), central Puget Sound (10); south-central Puget Sound (11); and southern Puget Sound (13).

CENTRAL PUGET SOUND’S MARINE AREAS 8-1, 8-2, 9 AND 10 ARE NOW OPEN FOR BLACKMOUTH. TEGAN YUASA, THE AUTHOR’S SON, GOT IN ON THIS NICE HAUL OF WINTER FEEDER KINGS. (MARK YUASA)

Many charter-boat owners and sport anglers will tell you this is their favorite time of year since blackmouth – a term used for a chinook’s black gum-line – are wired to constantly feed on schools of herring and candlefish.

In other words: “Find the bait and you’ll likely find a hungry blackmouth!”

Places like Possession Bar, Point No Point, Double Bluff off the south side of Whidbey Island, Jefferson Head, West Point, Point Monroe, Allen Bank off Blake Island, Hat Island, Baby Island, Clay Banks off Point Defiance, Camano Island and Southworth all come to mind with a plethora of other hot spots layered in between.

Another school of thought that makes this salmon fishery so much fun is the blackmouth’s predictability since the best bite is based on tidal influence. The payoff: If they bit the day before at a certain time frame, it’s very likely they’ll still be there the day after only an hour later into a tidal series.

Those planning on heading out for the Wednesday opening day of winter chinook fishing in northern and central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 9 and 10) will likely find lots of chinook under the 22-inch legal-size limit.

According to WDFW test fishery folks who have been plying the water in advance of tomorrow’s opener have found on average the chinook were 2-inches smaller than last year during the same time frame in Area 9. Even the three legal-size chinook were just BARELY over 22 inches.

In northern Puget Sound they encountered two legal-marked chinook, one legal-unmarked, 14 sub-legal marked and two sub-legal unmarked.

In central Puget Sound they encountered one legal-unmarked and three sub-legal marked.

This may be of concern since the fisheries could close if the chinook guideline is achieved.

Get over the crabbiness by pulling in a pot of Dungies!

To make the winter holiday feast even more appealing is the fact you can set pots again for Dungeness crab in open Puget Sound areas now through Dec. 31.

While summer crab fishing was less than stellar those who dropped pots in the “zone” filled them up with plenty of Dungies. Word has it since reopening on Oct. 7 the crab have started to fill out and are much more meatier as they fatten up for the winter.

Look for good crabbing around Whidbey Island, northeast side of Kitsap Peninsula, Camano Island, Hat Island, Port Angeles Harbor, Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands. Remember due to a downtrend in crab abundance locations south of Edmonds and Hood Canal – Marine Catch Areas 10, 11, 12 and 13 are closed this winter.

Dog days of fall upon us!

The good news for salmon anglers is two-fold as the chinook fishery reopens in some local marine areas, but the bigger news is what looks to be an extremely strong chum return.

“It appears we’re at the beginning of a stronger than forecasted chum run for Hood Canal and South Sound,” said Marisa Litz, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) chum salmon biologist.

THIS FALL’S CHUM SALMON RUN IS COMING IN STRONGLY; PETE SERGEEF HOISTS A NICE ONE CAUGHT OFF JEFF HEAD LAST YEAR. (MARK YUASA)

Sport anglers at Hoodsport in Hood Canal saw some good catches of chum this where 53 anglers on Oct. 29 had 124 chum, and 67 on Oct. 28 had 150.

Likewise catches from commercial boats in central and south-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal were scoring good catches too.

“We had our initial (purse seine and gill-net) openings last week and this week, and based on our (catch per unit effort) they’re among the largest we’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Litz said.

Early boat ticket reports showed some as high as 4,000 chum per commercial boat on Oct. 18, and it appears they remained steady this past week.

“We had several purse seiners in Hood Canal and South Sound filling up their holds, and catching a lot of good quality bright chum,” Litz said. “Of course, it is still too early, and we haven’t changed any of our preseason run-size forecasts just yet.”

The total fall chum return is 1,070,968, and a breakdown of that figure shows 492,892 for Hood Canal and 291,357 for South Sound rivers and streams.

Other fall chum forecasts are 109,337 for Nooksack/Samish; 6,966 for Skagit; 5,981 for Stillaguamish; 20,53 for Snohomish; 141,893 for central Puget Sound; and 2,061 for Strait of Juan de Fuca. Many rivers are closed to all salmon fishing to protect weak returning stocks. Check the WDFW pamphlet for what is open and/or closed to fishing.

“This is still the early stage of chum returns, but all indications show we’re going to exceed that based on the catches the last few weeks,” Litz said. “We’ve had pretty atrocious returns of pinks, and issues with chinook and coho so to see this chum return likely exceeding expectations is great news.”

WDFW and tribal fishery managers are assessing chum forecasts, and will likely start having conversations to consider increasing the run-size very soon, which could be as soon as this week.

Chum salmon – better known as dog salmon for their ferocious-looking jawline at spawning time – are also one of the hardest-fighting fish a sport angler will hook, and they can weigh up to and over 20 pounds with most averaging 8 to 15 pounds.

Anglers pursuing chums will have plenty of opportunities along some of the more traditional fishing holes, which will give up decent action in the weeks ahead with the peak usually occurring around Thanksgiving.

Popular locales are the estuaries off Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Perry Creek in Eld Inlet, Johns Creek and Canyon Creek in Oakland Bay, Chico Creek estuary in Dyes Inlet and Curly Creek estuary near Southworth.

Other good places to try for chum are North Bay near Allyn, Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, McLane Creek, Eagle Creek south of Potlatch State Park, and the public-access shores off Highway 101 from Eldon to Hoodsport.

The heavy rain in past couple of weeks has pushed a lot of the early chums toward estuaries where they’ll stage before up into rivers and streams.

A bobber and anchovy or small firecracker-sized herring is the most productive way to catch fish, but tossing flies, spinners, jigs and spoons will also catch their fair share of fish. In this fishery many believe the color chartreuse is the “must have” color in your tackle gear to catch chums.

The strong abundance of chum also bodes well when northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9) and east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) reopens for blackmouth on Wednesday (Nov. 1). Anglers at places like Possession Bar and Double Bluff off the south side of Whidbey Island, Point No Point, Kingston, Pilot Point and Port Townsend should find their decent share of fish to catch.

Can you dig it?

Coastal razor clam diggers searching for the prized bivalves at Mocrocks. Fall and winter may bring harsh weather, but diggers can find hot digging.

If you can dig this news as much as I dig it, be sure to add razor clams to the cornucopia of holiday meals. Hint: Think clams instead of turkey or ham or better yet all three for a surf-and-turf celebration.

Digging is open during evening low tides on Thursday (Nov. 2) and Saturday (Nov. 4) at Copalis; Friday (Nov. 3) and Sunday (Nov. 5) at Mocrocks; and Friday through Sunday at Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Diggers are reminded that the dig on Nov. 5 is when we set the clocks back one hour. Low tides are plus-0.1 feet at 6:03 p.m. on Thursday; minus-0.7 feet at 6:47 p.m. on Friday; -1.2 at 7:31 p.m. on Saturday; and -1.4 at 7:16 p.m. on Sunday.

Other coastal razor clam digs tentatively planned are Dec. 1 at Copalis; Dec. 2 and 4 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Dec. 3 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis; and Dec. 31 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. The season openers on Oct. 6-7 lured 28,300 diggers with an average of 12.5 clams per digger – the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit. A breakdown showed Long Beach seekers averaged 11.9; Twin Harbors, 12.4; Copalis, 13.3; and Mocrocks, 12.6. Average size was 4 to 5 inches with bigger clams at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
The only thing holding back future digs are a passing grade for marine toxin testing conducted prior to each series of digs. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

On freshwater scene, state fisheries plans to plant about 260,000 catchable-sized trout to boost holiday fishing in Puget Sound and Southwest Washington year-round lakes.

Issaquah’s Beaver Lake got a plant of 800 jumbo-sized trout last month with 800 more going in right before Thanksgiving. Then just before Christmas another 800 will be added to zest up the holiday fishing fun. Check WDFW’s website for latest statewide trout plants at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

Word on NW Salmon Derby and more

Next up on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series is Everett No-Coho Blackmouth Salmon Derby this weekend (Nov. 4-5). This year’s grand prize – an $85,000 fully-loaded Hewescraft 220 OceanPro powered with Honda 250- and 9.9-horsepower motors on an EZ-Loader Tandem axle galvanized trailer – will be given away at the derby in a raffle drawing to one lucky person.

SOME LUCKY NORTHWEST SALMON ANGLER’S GOING TO WALK AWAY WITH THIS GREAT BOAT AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS WEEKEND’S EVERETT NO-COHO BLACKMOUTH DERBY. (NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES)

We’ve also got plenty more exciting surprises coming up in 2018 for the derby series so stay tuned as we get amped up on forthcoming news.

Lastly, I’m drafting The Seattle Boat Show fishing seminars, and we’ve got new additions to spice it up when the show drops anchor Jan. 26 to Feb. 3 at Century Link Field and Event Center. It’s a one-stop get all the tips on where and how to catch fish from some of the best experts in Pacific Northwest.

SW WA, Lower Columbia, Hanford Reach Fishing Report (7-31-17)

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL ORIGINATED WITH WDFW, INCLUDING PAUL HOFFARTH, AND JOE HYMER, PSMFC, AND WAS TRANSMITTED BY HYMER

FACTOID

A few summer run chum have been found in the Cowlitz and Kalama rivers.

CHUM SALMON ARE NATIVE TO THE LOWER COLUMBIA, AND WHILE FEW RETURN ANNUALLY THESE DAYS, THOSE THAT DO MOSTLY HEAD FOR A CREEK NEAR BONNEVILLE OR THE GRAYS RIVER NEAR THE MOUTH. (JOE HYMER)

Salmon/Steelhead

Cowlitz River – Above the I-5 Br:  61 bank rods kept 7 adult spring Chinook and 2 steelhead and released 1 adult and 1 jack spring Chinook.  52 boats/157 rods kept 48 steelhead and released 1 jack spring Chinook and 10 cutthroats

Below the I-5 Br:  1 boat/2 rods and 1 bank angler had no catch.

Mainstem Lewis River – 2 boat anglers kept 1 steelhead.

Drano Lake – 22 boat anglers kept 2 adult Chinook and 6 steelhead and released 13 steelhead and 1 adult Chinook.  ~12 boats here on weekdays and ~25 boats here last Saturday morning.

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 1,042 salmonid anglers (165 boats) with 23 adult and 2 jack summer Chinook, 85 steelhead, and no sockeye.  8 (35%) of the adult summer Chinook and 45 (53%) of the steelhead were kept.

Any Chinook (adipose fin clipped or not) may be retained beginning tomorrow (August 1).  All steelhead must be released during the month of August.

Hanford Reach Summer Chinook/Sockeye Fishery- From Paul A. Hoffarth District 4 Fish Biologist WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife in Pasco WA –

Effort has been slow but did pick up slightly this past week.  There were an estimated 37 boats fishing for summer chinook salmon in the Columbia River between Highway 395 and Priest Rapids Dam during the week.  WDFW staff interviewed 9 anglers from 7 boats with 1 hatchery jack chinook harvested and 4 wild adult chinook caught and released.

For the season there have been 2,366 angler trips for summer chinook/sockeye with 115 adult hatchery chinook, 42 chinook jacks, and 885 sockeye harvested. Area fisheries will continue to be open to fishing for hatchery summer chinook through August 15. On August 16, the fall fishery will open.

Sturgeon

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – We sampled 39 sturgeon anglers (including 12 boats) with 30 legals released.

Hanford Reach – 6 boats, 16 anglers, 76 hours, 4 caught, 1 harvested, 1 legal + 2 shakers released (19 hours/fish)

Bass and Walleye

Lower Columbia mainstem below Bonneville Dam – Last week we sampled 9 walleye anglers (6 boats) in the Camas/Washougal area with 3 fish released.

Hanford Reach – Smallmouth bass: 6 boats, 10 anglers, 30 hours, 31 caught, 4 harvested (1 hour/fish)

Walleye: 11 boats, 18 anglers, 61 hours, 34 caught, 19 harvested (1.8 hours/fish)