Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.
By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association
Anglers who live in the Pacific Northwest have plenty of year-round fishing opportunities to rave about.
As an outdoor journalist this means my word count on stories never dwindles month-to-month and I’m constantly heading to the pencil sharpener to make sure the end of the No. 2 has enough lead to jot down my “slimy” scribbles on a notepad.
(MARK YUASA, NMTA)
Now let’s keep this writing streak going as there’s still a “boatload” of time to hit your favorite fishing holes before the winter holidays roll around.
Fundamentally it’s all about decisions, decisions on where to go and what you want to catch!
On top of the autumn decision list is salmon in local marine waterways like central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 10) open through Nov. 15 for coho or chum or south-central Puget Sound (11) open through April 30 for a salmon trio of coho, chum and hatchery-marked chinook.
Last month an unexpected nice coho return streamed into Puget Sound creating a fishing frenzy and keep in mind the caboose on this “silver streak” is still sitting somewhere out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This past winter, WDFW biologists predicted a coho return of 557,149 (249,174 wild and 307,975 hatchery), and the actual run size could be larger than what appeared in the crystal ball.
Add to the fishing equation in the coming weeks a hard-fighting fall chum – better known as dog salmon for their gnarly, toothy jaw line at spawning time – with an expected Puget Sound return of 1,216,031.
We rolled out the red carpet for the Puget Sound hatchery kings this past summer, and there’s no doubt the good times will keep on rolling for our next salmon royalty well into next month and beyond.
Look for coho and chum in Area 10 at Jefferson Head, West Point south of Shilshole Bay, Point Monroe, Allen Bank off Blake Island and Southworth.
Further south in Area 11 anglers can score a hat trick (a coho, chum and hatchery chinook) by hitting Colvos Passage, Point Dalco, the Clay Banks off Point Defiance Park, Redondo Beach and Three Tree Point.
As the days get shorter heading into winter be sure to watch the chum catch rates soar at estuaries off Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Johns Creek in Oakland Bay, Hoodsport Hatchery in Hood Canal, Chico Creek in Dyes Inlet and Curly Creek near Southworth.
Other chum fishing holes are North Bay near Allyn, Perry Creek in Eld Inlet, 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.
Your other marine salmon options are Hood Canal (13) open now through April 30 and southern Puget Sound (13) open year-round.
Anglers will also begin targeting migrating salmon in local rivers like the Skagit and Snohomish river systems – closed in 2016 and 2017 for coho – as well as the Chehalis, Clearwater, Bogachiel, Calawah, Green, Humptulips, Hoh, Queets, Quinault, Sol Duc and Wynoochee. Anglers should consult the WDFW regulation pamphlet or app for what is open and what types of salmon species you can target in each river.
Winter Dungeness crab outlook
If you like to fish for winter Dungeness crab as much as I do, then pay close attention to a forthcoming announcement from WDFW in the weeks ahead about a possible winter crab fishing season.
“Hopefully we’ll have a preliminary estimate soon so we can make decisions on a winter crab season,” said Don Velasquez, a WDFW Puget Sound shellfish manager.
Fishing areas with crab remaining on their annual allocation, will re-open, seven days a week through the end of this year. However, if the entire annual sport catch quota was taken or if it was closed this past summer, then it’s game over this winter.
“Some said crabbing was fine and others were asking what’s wrong,” Velasquez said. “We had a mixed bag of reports from Area 7 (San Juan Islands) and 8-1 and 8-2 (east side of Whidbey Island) had an average year.”
Velasquez said sport anglers who got out during the July opener in Area 9 (northern Puget Sound) benefitted with good catches as the tribal fisheries didn’t get out until a couple weeks later. Preseason test fisheries conducted by WDFW in Area 10 (central Puget Sound) showed a low abundance of crab thus leading to poor success this past summer.
For more information, go to https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/.
Tentative dates set for first-half of coastal razor clam season
The tentative coastal razor clam digging dates have been set and Long Beach will see a very brief 2018-19 season although WDFW shellfish managers are hopeful it is just be a gap year.
WDFW attribute this decline of razor clams to low salinity levels from Columbia River freshwater run-off along the southern-most beaches.
There is no shortage of razor clams at Long Beach with about 330,000 clams available for harvest in 2018-19, but 80 percent of them are less than 2-inches long.
On the other-hand coastal beaches to the north look robust for the upcoming fall and winter digs.
Twin Harbors is in good shape, and Copalis and Mocrocks beaches razor clam populations are up over last year.
WDFW is working with Olympic National Park staff to assess possible digging dates on Kalaloch Beach.
Upcoming digs are reliant on testing for marine toxins known as domoic acid — a natural marine toxin produced by certain types of marine algae that can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.
Domoic acid levels remained well under the 20 parts-per-million cutoff ranging from 0.0 to 2.0.
Here are the proposed evening low tide digging dates, and final approval will be announced about one or two weeks before each series of digs:
Oct. 11, 13, 26 and 28 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; and Oct. 12, 25 and 27 at Twin Harbors and Copalis.
Nov. 8, 10, 23 and 25 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Nov. 9, 11 and 22 at Twin Harbors and Copalis; and Nov. 24 at Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.
Dec. 6, 8, 21 and 23 at Twin Harbors and Copalis; Dec. 7, 9 and 20 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; and Dec. 22 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
For details, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclam.
NW Salmon Derby Series ends on high note and a look ahead to 2019
It has been an extremely busy 2018 season with the NW Chevy Dealer Silverado truck and fully-loaded KingFisher boat traveling across the Pacific Northwest!
In all we had 14 derbies including our newest – the Brewster Salmon Derby Aug. 2-5 on the Columbia River – and returnees after a two-year hiatus were the Edmonds PSA Coho Derby and the Everett Coho Derby with each drawing thousands of anglers.
(MARK YUASA, NMTA)
We had a total of 6,585 anglers entered into the derby series, and the winner of the fully-loaded, grand-prize KingFisher 2025 Series boat powered with Honda motor on an EZ Loader Trailer.
Winner of the Everett Coho Derby – which lured 1,694 adult and 201 youth participants with 548 coho averaging 7.04 pounds on Oct. 22-23. Winner was Michael Rien with a 13.27-pound coho worth $10,000! Also congratulations to the youth winner Baron Kuehlwein with a 10.79-pound coho worth $300!
For the second year in a row the winner of the grand prize derby boat hails from the Big One Salmon Derby in Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho! Joshua Stokes who is an avid angler from Post Falls, Idaho, has fished the Big One Salmon Derby for as long as he can remember.
A huge “thank you” goes out to all our sponsors that also include Scotty Downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; WhoDat Tower; Dual Electronic Stereo; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News PSA; Outdoor Emporium/Sportco; Harbor Marine; Silver Horde; Prism Graphics; and Salmon, Steelhead Journal.
We’ve got a lot of exciting news on the plate for the 2019 derby series and we’ll be making announcements very soon so stay tuned!
For details, go to www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.
In the meantime, the days may be getting shorter as we head into fall and winter, but there’s nothing like a feisty coho or chum salmon tugging on the end of the fishing line.
I’ll see you on the water!