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Yuasa Reviews Washington 2018 Salmon Seasons, Looks Ahead To Halibut, Shrimping

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

The months are flying by faster than a coho hitting your bait in the prop wash.

It felt like “Yesterday” – an ode to a classic Beatles song – when we gathered in Lacey on Feb. 27 to see what the salmon forecasts had in store for us. Now a season package is “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” – did you say Stevie Wonder? – for anglers to digest and begin making plans on where to wet a line.

The process known as “North of Falcon” (NOF) culminated April 6-11 in Portland, Oregon, and I was on-hand as a sport-fishing observer.

JUSTIN WONG HOLDS UP A NICE KING SALMON HE CAUGHT LAST SUMMER IN THE OCEAN OFF WESTPORT. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

When proposed seasons came to light in mid-March it was like a feisty trophy king tugging on end of a line, which after a long battle unhooked itself at the boat causing the lead weight to smack you right in the eye.

While grief and a swollen black eye set in, you might have been down in the dumps. But, my mantra has been to never whine about what you can’t do or lost (the trophy king in paragraph above), and more on making the most of the present moment.

Life throws you lemons so make sweet lemonade because if you don’t your head will go into a swift-moving tidal tail-spin and turn your fishing line into a messy tangled web of hurt.

The initial good news is environmental conditions – El Nino, warm water temperatures, a “Blob” and droughts – that have plagued us with restrictions going back to 2015-16 appear to be in the rear-view mirror.

Secondly, was the warmth (albeit mixed feelings by some NOF attendees) of unity and transparency between user groups despite a usual difference in opinions over how the whole pie of sport, tribal and non-tribal fisheries was divvied up.

These are signals of “baby steps” in a complicated process that long has been filled with arguments, bitterness, cultural indifference, protests and a fight over that “last salmon” dating back to Boldt Decision.

The true litmus test of how long this “hand-holding” philosophy will last between all parties is essential as we move forward to ensure our iconic Pacific Northwest salmon runs will be around for generations to come. Even more so as we carry the torch of a long-term Puget Sound Chinook Management Plan to the federal fishery agency’s table later this year, which will dictate how we fish from 2019 to 2029 and beyond.

“Now that we’ve finished this process we need to work on being responsible with conservation, habitat issues and simply change our philosophy to create a long-term management plan,” Ron Warren, the WDFW salmon policy coordinator said at conclusion of Portland meetings.

While being mindful of that briny future, let’s go over highlights of our fisheries at hand.

A positive are extended seasons – something that hasn’t happened for several years – for hatchery coho in northern Puget Sound (Area 9) from July through September, and non-select coho in central Puget Sound (Area 10) from June through mid-November. The Puget Sound coho forecast is 557,149.

Another shining star is a South Sound hatchery chinook forecast of 227,420 up 21 percent from 10-year average and a 35 percent increase from 2017.

The northern Puget Sound summer hatchery chinook catch quota is 5,563 – a similar figure to 2017 – and is expected to last one-month when it opens in July.

The elevated forecast is a blessing when south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) opens June 1 especially in popular Tacoma-Vashon Island area. A central Puget Sound hatchery chinook fishery starts July 16 with a cap of 4,743. Area 10 has a coho directed fishery in June at popular places such as Jefferson Head-Edmonds area.

A hatchery king season opens at Sekiu on July 1, and Port Angeles on July 3. Both switch to hatchery coho in mid-August through September.

A summer king fishery in San Juan Islands (Area 7) opens July to August, but September is chinook non-retention.

Late-summer and early-fall coho fisheries will occur in Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 11, 12 and 13.

On coast, Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay open daily starting June 23, and Westport opens Sundays to Thursdays beginning July 1. Hatchery coho quotas are same as 2017 although chinook quotas are down a decent amount. The popular Buoy 10 salmon fishery opens Aug. 1.

On freshwater scene, a sockeye forecast of 35,002 to Baker River is strong enough to allow fisheries in Baker Lake from July 7-Sept. 7, and a section of Skagit River from June 16-July 15.

The Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie open Sept. 16 for coho. Sections of Skykomish, Skagit and Cascade open for hatchery chinook beginning June 1. For details on seasons, visit WDFW at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon/.

Bounty of May fishing options

There’s nothing more exciting than pulling up a pot loaded with prawn-size spot shrimp during a season that begins May 5.

“I am more positive this year on our spot shrimp projections than the last couple of years,” said Mark O’Toole, a WDFW biologist who is retiring May 18 after an illustrious 36 years with the department, and many thanks for your valued input on shrimp and other fish policies!

BIG PRAWN-SIZE SPOT SHRIMP COME INTO PLAY IN THE MONTHS AHEAD AROUND THE PUGET SOUND REGION. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“In general, last year was another good season with relatively high abundance,” he said. “The catch per boat ended up being higher for all areas.”

Look for good shrimping in Strait; San Juan Islands; east side of Whidbey Island; central, south-central and northern Puget Sound; and Hood Canal. Test fishing conducted this spring showed marginal abundance in southern Puget Sound.

Hit pause button on spring chores since trout fishing in statewide lowland lakes is now underway.

Justin Spinelli, a WDFW biologist says 460,000 trout went into Puget Sound region lakes on top of 500-plus statewide lakes planted with 16,840,269 trout – 2,171,307 of them are the standardized size averaging about 11 inches compared to 8-inches in past seasons.

If you prefer a large-sized halibut then head out on May 11. The Washington catch quota is 225,366 pounds down from 237,762 in 2017, and a bump up from 214,110 in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Dates for Neah Bay, La Push, Westport and Strait/Puget Sound are May 11, 13, 25 and 27. Depending on catches other dates are June 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, 28 and 30. Ilwaco opens May 3 with fishing allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Once you get your halibut fix add some black rockfish and lingcod to the cooler. Ilwaco, Westport, Neah Bay and La Push are open for both, and some Puget Sound areas are open for lingcod.

NW Salmon Derby Series hits pause button

While we take a break from a spectacular winter derby series be sure to keep sight of the PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 13-15.

2018 NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES GRAND PRIZE BOAT. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

More great news is Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 8 and Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 22-23 – the largest derby on West Coast – are likely back on “must do” list. In mean time, check out derby’s grand-prize KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with Honda 150hp motor and 9.9hp trolling motor at Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show on May 17-20 at Cap Sante Marina. The $65,000 boat also comes on an EZ-loader trailer, and fully-rigged with Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; custom WhoDat Tower; and Dual Electronic stereo. Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

I’m sprinting out the door with rod in hand so see you on the water!

WA Ocean Salmon Fishing Report (8-16-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY, WDFW

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 7,052 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 1,667 Chinook and 5,578 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 5,747 Chinook (44% of the area guideline) and 16,581 coho (79% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

 

Westport

 

A total of 4,339 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 796 Chinook and 2,995 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 5,828 Chinook (27% of the area guideline) and 13,766 coho (76% of the revised area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 287 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 78 Chinook and 369 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 337 Chinook (14% of the area guideline) and 763 coho (70% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 476 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery August 7-13, landing 273 Chinook and 167 coho.  Through August 13, a cumulative total of 7,116 Chinook (90% of the area guideline) and 2,378 coho (54% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

 

Washington Ocean Salmon Update (8-9-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORT IS FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY OF WDFW

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 4,709 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 31-August 6, landing 732 Chinook and 3,293 coho.  Through August 6, a cumulative total of 4,082 Chinook (31% of the area guideline) and 10,999 coho (52% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

HUNTER HIGGINBOTHAM SHOWED OFF HIS SKILLS WHILE SALMON FISHING OUT OF WESTPORT WITH FAR CORNERS ADVENTURE FISHING. THIS COHO BIT A HERRING BEHIND A FISH FLASH FOR THE LAD. (VIA JAROD HIGGINBOTHAM)

Westport

A total of 4,444 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 31-August 6, landing 789 Chinook and 4,114 coho.  Through August 6, a cumulative total of 5,032 Chinook (24% of the area guideline) and 10,771 coho (69% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 226 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 31-August 6, landing 43 Chinook and 223 coho.  Through August 6, a cumulative total of 259 Chinook (10% of the area guideline) and 394 coho (36% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 778 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 31-August 6, landing 465 Chinook and 398 coho.  Through August 6, a cumulative total of 6,843 Chinook (87% of the area guideline) and 2,210 coho (51% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Washington Coast Salmon Fishing Report (7-26-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORTS ARE FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY OF WDFW (TOP) AND JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM (BOTTOM)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 2,701 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 17-23, landing 281 Chinook and 2,527 coho.  Through July 23, a cumulative total of 2,845 Chinook (22% of the area guideline) and 4,330 coho (21% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Westport

A total of 2,587 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 17-23, landing 987 Chinook and 2,054 coho.  Through July 23, a cumulative total of 2,540 Chinook (12% of the area guideline) and 3,404 coho (22% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

JENN STAHL SHOWS OFF A COHO SHE CAUGHT OUT OF WESTPORT LAST WEEKEND WHILE FISHING WITH JOHN KEIZER. (SALTPATROL.COM)

La Push

A total of 75 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 17-23, landing 28 Chinook and 39 coho.  Through July 23, a cumulative total of 184 Chinook (7% of the area guideline) and 92 coho (8% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 1,698 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 17-23, landing 1,156 Chinook and 570 coho.  Through July 23, a cumulative total of 5,854 Chinook (74% of the area guideline) and 1,258 coho (29% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

…………………………………….

Had a great weekend fishing the Jenn Stahl on Saturday. Jenn caught some kings and coho. The fished have arrived in numbers now and we’re just south of the harbor with most of the fishing taking place just outside the GH buoy. We had great action on a Green Spatterback squid behind a Pro-Flasher and on a Fish Flash and KingFisher spoon. Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna Gel scent worked very well as a scent.

I also had Amercian Idol winner Taylor Hicks on the boat this weekend. Taylor hosts a new show called State Plate which airs on the INSP network. This episode will air in the upcoming season.

Washington Coast Salmon Fishing Report (7-12-17)

THE FOLLOWING REPORTS ARE FROM WENDY BEEGHLEY OF WDFW (TOP) AND JOHN KEIZER OF SALTPATROL.COM (BOTTOM)

Columbia Ocean Area (including Oregon)

A total of 1,885 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 770 Chinook and 177 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 2,212 Chinook (17% of the area guideline) and 318 coho (2% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

“I JUST LOVE HOW THESE OCEAN ‘NOOKS REFUSE TO QUIT!” SAYS JEFF ANDERSON, HERE WITH A RECENT ONE. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Westport

A total of 2,355 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 498 Chinook and 261 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 1,269 Chinook (6% of the area guideline) and 261 coho (2% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

La Push

A total of 86 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 54 Chinook and 6 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 89 Chinook (4% of the area guideline) and 25 coho (2% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

Neah Bay

A total of 1,975 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery July 3-9, landing 1,472 Chinook and 245 coho.  Through July 9, a cumulative total of 2,346 Chinook (30% of the area guideline) and 397 coho (9% of the area sub-quota) have been landed.

…………………………….

Fished Westport this weekend landed 2 kings and a coho Saturday and one king one coho Sunday pretty slow fishing overall. Top producer for us was a Gold Star Spatter squid behind a Pro-Troll flasher with Bloody Tuna Jell Scent on it. We fished 300 ft of water NW of the harbor best downrigger depth was 110ft. The ocean is full of pink Pyrosome Tunicates. They are a colony of plankton eating clones. They get caught on the downrigger wire and will also trip your rod off the release clip.

THE BANE OF COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN EARLIER IN THE YEAR, RECREATIONAL ANGLERS ARE ALSO FINDING PYROSOMES CLOGGING UP THEIR GEAR. (SALTPATROL.COM)

 

Salmon Open Off Most Of WA Coast This Saturday, Westport July 1

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Sport anglers will have the opportunity to reel in salmon off the Washington coast starting Saturday, June 24.

That’s when marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) open daily for salmon fishing. Marine Area 2 (Westport) will open a week later on July 1.

ILWACO IS AMONG THE WASHINGTON PORTS OPENING FOR SALMON THIS SATURDAY, AND WILL DRAW LOCAL ANGLERS AND PUGETROPOLITES LIKE JOHN KEIZER ALIKE. (SALTPATROL.COM)

Fish managers expect slightly higher numbers of chinook and coho salmon will make their way through the ocean this year as compared to 2016, said Wendy Beeghley, an ocean salmon manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

ADS ON THE SIDES OF SOUND TRANSIT AND METRO BUSES ROLLING THROUGH SEATTLE AND ITS SUBURBS BECKON RESIDENTS TO WESTPORT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Due to the improved forecasts, the recreational chinook catch quota this year is 45,000, up from 35,000 in 2016. This year’s coho quota of 42,000 fish is an increase of 23,100 coho from 2016, when anglers were allowed to keep coho only in Marine Area 1. Coho retention is allowed in all four marine areas this summer.

Anglers fishing in marine areas 1 and 2 will have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook. In areas 3 and 4, anglers will have a two-salmon daily limit. In all areas, anglers must release wild coho.

STUART ALLEN AND OTHER NEAH BAY ANGLERS WILL BE TARGETING FAT CHINOOK THIS SEASON. THE TRI-CITIES ANGLER CAUGHT THIS ONE SEVERAL SEASONS AGO. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

All four marine areas are scheduled to close to salmon fishing at the end of the day Sept. 4 but could close earlier if the quota is met.

Throughout the summer, anglers can check WDFW’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/ocean/ for updates

More information about the fisheries can be found in the 2017-18 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available at license vendors and sporting goods stores and online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01914/2017-18_marine.pdf.

7.49-lb. Vermilion Rockfish Would’ve Been New Washington Record

Washington bass angler Roger Davis has been trying hard to land a new state record for several years now.

He should have gotten into the book this weekend — but for another species entirely.

The North Sound fisherman caught a bucket-mouthed, near-7-pound, 8-ounce vermilion rockfish off Neah Bay on Sunday morning.

ROGER DAVIS HEFTS HIS 7.49-POUND VERMILION ROCKFISH — SO NAMED FOR ITS BRILLIANT COLORING — WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN A NEW STATE RECORD. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

But of all the rotten luck, he thought he was still 2 ounces shy of the standing high mark.

That fish is James Duffy’s 2005 7.10-pounder, which Davis initially read as a bass angler reads weights — a 7-10.

Yesterday afternoon, after his fish had been cleaned and processed, Davis sent me an email with pics from his trip. As we were going back and forth, sorting out autocorrects, double checking WDFW’s records and doing the math in my head, I wrote, “Wait a minute, the record book listing for vermilion rockfish says 7.1 pounds. Yours would be 7.5 pounds, wouldn’t it?”

“Oh damn!!!! I read it wrong. I thought it was 7 pounds 10 oz!!! It was the state record!!! Damn!!” Davis wrote back, adding, “Oh man, I’m super bummed. I even weighed it on an official scale, and the fish and game guys were even there.”

A worker at the Cape Flattery Fisherman’s Coop today confirmed to Northwest Sportsman they’d seen the 7.49-pound digital reading themselves.

“The fish and game guys at the docks said it was the biggest one they had ever seen,” Davis added.

ROGER DAVIS HAS BEEN USING OVERSIZED BAITS TO BRING IN HUGE NORTH SOUND LARGEMOUTH IN RECENT SPRINGS. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

This time of year you’re most likely to find Davis fishing from small, rickety boats on ponds and lakes scattered around Skagit and Whatcom Counties in hopes of landing a giant prespawn female largemouth, but he also likes to head offshore on more secure craft to catch tasty halibut.

He was in Neah Bay for last Thursday’s and Saturday’s openers, fishing with two friends aboard one’s 28-foot Hewescraft, the Spunky Monkey, and spending their off days going out for rockfish.

He says the vermilion rockfish bit around 8:30 yesterday morning.

“We were jigging flies around the 100-foot-depth mark and catching every kind of rockfish on the list, especially tons of canary rockfish which we were releasing,” Davis recalls. “The big one hit down around 90 feet on a white-and-red fly. We thought it might be a ling at first, because we knew it was bigger. When we saw it, we were shocked. We checked and double checked to make sure we could retain it,” Davis says.

“On the ride back in I looked up the state record and thought it said 7 pounds 10 ounces rather than 7.10 pounds.  We weighed it on an official certified scale at the commercial dock in Neah Bay and it came in at 7.49 pounds. I thought I was just shy (of the record), so we took it back to the cleaning station where it got cleaned with the rest of our catch. Too bad I didn’t realize it was 7.1 pounds!!”

Wondering if there still wasn’t an outside chance for Davis to get his vermilion into the books, I called a couple sources at WDFW and checked out the record fish application. But it sounds like the “fish and game guys” at Neah were probably creel samplers, not an area or district fish biologist, who could have officially positively identified it for species (though being a sampler would imply some knowledge of what fishes swim in Washington waters).

Still, it was a great haul and weekend overall for Davis.

“It was a stellar few days of fishing and I probably boated over 120 fish from Wednesday night through Sunday morning,” he said.

AMONG THE MANY FISH DAVIS CAUGHT OUT OF NEAH BAY LAST WEEKEND WAS THIS FINE PAIR OF TASTY HALIBUT. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

But what are the odds that someone who’s so focused on trying to get into the record book with one species gets a shot at cracking it with a different one altogether?

“I know, right?” Davis said. “Plus it was the first vermilion rockfish I’d ever caught!