Tag Archives: NW Fishing Derby Series

Yuasa: Blackmouth Ops ‘Really Get Spinning’ In Sound, Juans, Straits

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 wheels on saltwater winter chinook salmon fisheries really get spinning in the months ahead.

No doubt this is one of my favorite times of the year to be wetting a line for chinook – often referred to as winter blackmouth for their dark gumline – especially in the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound where fishing grounds are less crowded, and if the baitfish schools are there it’s likely packs of hungry salmon won’t be far behind.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Currently the San Juan Islands (Marine Catch Area 7) are open through April 15; northern Puget Sound (9) and the east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) are open through April 30.

“I feel there will be a lot of fish around (in San Juan Islands) that haven’t been impacted by fishing pressure (since it closed in early fall),” said Chris Long, owner of Jolly Mon Charters in Anacortes.

While blackmouth in the 4- to 8-pound category can be plentiful at times it’s their larger counterparts from the mid-teens to 20-plus pounds that get anglers ecstatic and losing sleep the night before a fishing trip.

Proof of the word “plentiful” is backed up by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) statistics.

I’m a numbers guy when it comes to salmon fishing and the 2019 winter season in the San Juan Islands from Jan. 1 through April 15 showed 6,255 boats with 13,236 anglers taking home 3,761 hatchery chinook and releasing another 2,555 hatchery and 2,563 unmarked chinook.

In the San Juan Islands, target winter blackmouth off Waldron Island, Spring Pass; north side Orcas Island from Lawrence Point west to Point Thompson; President Channel; Rosario Pass; Sucia Island; Smith Island; Tide Point; Lopez Pass; and Obstruction Pass; and Thatcher Pass.

In northern Puget Sound hit up Point No Point; Pilot Point; Possession Bar; Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend; Browns Bay; Foulweather Bluff; Double Bluff off southwest side of Whidbey Island; and the breakwater off Edmonds to Edwards Point.

Winter chinook are also known to lurk in the waters along the east side of Whidbey Island at the “racetrack” between Camano Head and Hat Island; Elger Bay; Baby Island; Camano Head; Rocky Point; Greenbank; Holmes Harbor; Onamac Point; Columbia Beach; and points to the north of Clinton Ferry Landing.

Both central and south-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal (Areas 10, 11 and 12) opened last month for winter hatchery blackmouth and fishing has been tough coupled with stormy weather. Area 10 is open through March 31; and Areas 11 and 12 are open through April 30.

Seek out blackmouth at Jefferson Head; West Point south of Shilshole Bay; Point Monroe; Fourmile Rock; Rich Passage; Southworth; Manchester; northwest side of Vashon Island by the channel marker; points along the east side of Bainbridge Island; Allen Bank off Blake Island’s southeastern corner; Clay Banks off Point Defiance Park in Tacoma; the “Flats” outside of Gig Harbor; Quartermaster Harbor; Point Dalco on south side of Vashon Island; Southworth Ferry Landing; and Colvos Passage off the Girl Scout Camp.

In Hood Canal try Misery Point, Hazel Point, Pleasant Harbor, Toandos Peninsula, Seabeck Bay and Seal Rock.

Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) is open year-round for hatchery chinook and anglers can try areas like Fox Point; Gibson Point; Point Fosdick; Hale Passage; Anderson Island; Lyle Point; and Devil’s Head and Johnson Point.

Looking ahead, the western Strait of Juan de Fuca (5) opens March 1 through April 30, and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (6) opens March 1 through April 15.

Whatever location you choose take into consideration that early closures hinge on catch guidelines or encounter limits for sub-legal and legal-size chinook (the minimum size limit is 22 inches). Therefore, getting out sooner than later will provide ample time on the water. WDFW managers monitor fisheries closely and provide updates on sport-fishing catch data.

Winter chinook tips and tactics

It doesn’t take much to get the winter chinook fishery dialed-in and doing some homework should make your trip a success.

First off, unlike summer salmon fishing you don’t need to on the water at the break of dawn to catch winter chinook as tidal movements and locations are a more important factor.

Top on the list is making sure your fish-finder isn’t glitching out to locate baitfish schools for winter chinook who are voracious feeders of herring and candlefish.

Then be sure to do your homework and study incoming and outgoing tidal movements to find where fish tend to hang out along drop offs, ledges and underwater structures. Remember, if the chinook bit at a certain time of the day, it’s almost a guarantee they’ll do the same the following day only an hour later. Winter chinook usually tend to hug or stay right on the bottom so keeping your presentation bouncing in front of them will likely lead to more action.

Downrigger trolling is the top choice since you can cover a lot of ground especially in the winter months when baitfish schools can be sparse. Anglers will use plastic squids, spoons, plugs or a cut-plug or whole herring along with a flasher or dodger set about 8 to 20 feet behind the downrigger ball.

Mooching with herring or a candlefish can also be an effective way to catch salmon. This consists of working a cut-plug or whole herring up and down the entire water column with a six- to eight-foot leader tied to a tandem 2/0 or 3/0 hooks attached to a 3- to 6-ounce banana weight. The weight size depends on the wind and current but keeping a 45-degree line angle is critical. Anglers who use these methods will often back up their boat to keep the right line angle.

Another technique is vertical jigging with 3- to 6-ounce Point Wilson Darts, Crippled Herring, Buzz Bombs, Grim Reefer and Butterfly jigs in candlefish or herring patterns. A reminder to take off the illegal treble hooks and add Gamakatsu 2/0 and 3/0 style hooks.

2020 salmon season meeting dates

While we’re still enjoying the fruits of current salmon fisheries many are also looking ahead to what 2020-2021 has in store for chinook and coho returns.

WDFW will unveil salmon forecasts to the public on Feb. 28 at the DSHS Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia.

Subsequent dates are North of Falcon meeting at Lacey Community Center, March 16; North of Falcon meeting in Sequim, March 19; Pacific Fishery Management Council hearing at Westport, March 23; North of Falcon meeting at WDFW Mill Creek office, March 26; and North of Falcon meeting at Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Avenue West, March 30.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will adopt final salmon seasons at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 West 6th Street in Vancouver, WA, on April 5-11. Specific meeting agendas and times should be known soon. Details: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon.

NW Fishing Derby Series slogan is “20 in 2020”

It was 17 years ago, when the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) started the Northwest Salmon Derby Series with the purpose of promoting fishing and growing boating in the Pacific Northwest.

We can credit Dwight Jones, the Elliott Bay Marina general manager and avid salmon angler, for pitching this idea that started with six salmon fishing events in 2004 and has since then grown to “20 in 2020” and renamed the NW Fishing Derby Series that includes a variety of other fish species.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

The 2020 derbies kick off in the San Juan Islands (Area 7) with the Resurrection Salmon Derby in Anacortes on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. Each has a first-place prize for the largest fish of $12,000 to $20,000.

Next month is also a busy time with the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby on March 13-15; Everett Blackmouth Derby on March 21-22; and For the Love of Cod Derbies in Coos Bay/Charleston areas and Brookings, Oregon March 21-22 and March 28-29 respectively.

The highlight of the 2020 series is a chance to win a $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize all-white KingFisher 2025 Escape HT boat powered with Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ Loader Trailer. The boat is equipped with Shoxs Seats for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas; a custom engraved WhoDat Tower; Raymarine Electronics; Burnewiin Accessories; Scotty Downriggers; and a Dual Electronics stereo.

Anglers who enter any of the 20 derbies don’t need to catch a fish to win this beautiful boat and motor package.

Other sponsors include The Reel News; Northwest Chevy Dealers and Burien Chevrolet; Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; Lamiglas Rods; 710 ESPN The Outdoor Line; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Bayside Marine; Seattle Boat Company; Ray’s Bait Works; and Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.

The Northwest Fishing Derby Series promotes boating and fishing throughout the region by partnering with existing derbies and marketing those events through targeted advertising, public relations and promotional materials. For details, go to www.NorthwestFishingDerbySeries.com.

I’ll see you on the water soon!

 

 

Yuasa’s 2020 Visions: Halibut Highlights, Blackmouth Openers, First Derbies Coming Up

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

This month marks a time when anglers begin gazing into the crystal ball to see what the 2020 fishing season has in store for halibut, salmon and other fish species.

For starters, the good news is halibut chasers can look forward to a more stabilized fishery in marine areas enabling them to make early plans for the upcoming spring season.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

“In Area 2A (Washington, Oregon and California) we’ve moved in a new direction that started in 2019 and goes through 2022 where quotas remain status quo barring any unforeseen issues,” said Heather Hall, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish policy coordinator.

“We’ve added a lot more days of fishing up front in 2020 compared to last year,” Hall said. “It helps knowing we have the catch quota available (there was 39,000 pounds leftover in 2019 Puget Sound fisheries) and how our fisheries did last year.”

In past seasons, the sport halibut fishery would open in early May, but in 2020 the proposal is to open the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 6 to 10) on April 16.
In those two areas, fishing is allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from April 16 to May 16 and May 28 to June 27, plus Memorial Day weekend on May 22-24.

The western Strait (Area 5) will be open Thursdays and Saturdays only from April 30 to May 16; and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 16 to June 28. Fishing is open daily from May 22-24 on Memorial Day weekend only.

The northern coast off Neah Bay and La Push (Areas 3 and 4) is open Thursdays and Saturdays from April 30 to May 16 and May 28 to June 27, plus Memorial Day weekend on May 22-24.

Just like last year, the southern ports of Westport and Ilwaco (Areas 1 and 2) are open Thursdays and Sundays from April 30 to May 17 and May 28 to June 28; and May 21 only during Memorial Day weekend.

Fishing areas could close sooner if catch quotas are achieved and/or additional fishing dates might be added if quotas aren’t attained.

“The season(s) will last as long as there is available quota,” Hall said. “We aren’t sure what kind of effort and fishing success there will be in that early April opener. It’s been many years since we opened in April so it will be interesting to see how it goes.”

In general, a shift in how the halibut fisheries are devised annually continues to be well received since it provides no last-minute changes or closures that have frustrated anglers prior to 2017 who have made fishing plans well in advance of the dates set forth.

The Area 2A catch quota (includes Washington, Oregon and California) for sport, treaty tribal and non-treaty commercial is 1.5-million pounds, and 89 percent – 1,329,575 pounds – of the quota was caught in 2019.

The total sport halibut catch quota is 277,100 pounds for Washington, and 97 percent – 270,024 pounds – of the quota was caught in 2019.

A breakdown in the sport allocation in Puget Sound-Strait (Areas 5 to 10) fisheries is 77,550 pounds; Neah Bay/La Push (Areas 3 and 4) is 128,187 pounds; Westport (Area 2) is 62,896 pounds; and Ilwaco (Area 1) is 15,127 pounds.

The average weight of halibut in 2019 was 18.5 pounds in Puget Sound-Strait; 17.6 pounds at Neah Bay/La Push; 18.3 pounds at Westport; and 14.5 pounds at Ilwaco.

The International Pacific Halibut Commission meets Feb. 3-7 in Anchorage, Alaska to determine seasons and catch quotas from California north to Alaska. The National Marine Fisheries Service will then make its final approval on halibut fishing dates sometime in March or sooner.

Facts on winter chinook

The holiday celebrations are in the rearview mirror and it’s time to look at winter chinook fishing options, including a few that began this month.

Central and south-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal (Areas 10, 11 and 12) are now open for winter hatchery blackmouth – a term used for a chinook’s dark gum-line. Area 10 is open through March 31; and Areas 11 and 12 are open through April 30.

“There wasn’t a lot of bait around in Area 10 when it was last open (fishing closed on Nov. 12) although we managed to release some bigger sized blackmouth,” said Justin Wong, owner of Cut Plug Charter in Seattle. “We didn’t catch a lot of shakers (chinook under the 22-inch minimum size limit) so that is a good thing.”

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Lastly, consider getting out sooner than later since early closures hinge on catch guidelines or encounter limits for sub-legal and legal-size chinook (fish over the 22-inch minimum size limit).

In central Puget Sound look for blackmouth at Jefferson Head; West Point south of Shilshole Bay; Point Monroe; Fourmile Rock; Rich Passage; Southworth; Manchester; northwest side of Vashon Island by the channel marker; Yeomalt Point and Skiff Point on the east side of Bainbridge Island; and Allen Bank off Blake Island’s southeastern corner.

In south-central Puget Sound try around the Clay Banks off Point Defiance Park in Tacoma; the “Flats” outside of Gig Harbor; Quartermaster Harbor; Point Dalco on south side of Vashon Island; Southworth Ferry Landing; and Colvos Passage off the Girl Scout Camp.

Hood Canal doesn’t garner as much attention in the winter but don’t underestimate what can be a decent fishery off Misery Point, Hazel Point, Pleasant Harbor, Toandos Peninsula, Seabeck Bay and Seal Rock.

Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) open year-round for hatchery chinook is another overlooked fishery. Good places are Fox Point; Gibson Point; Point Fosdick; Hale Passage; Anderson Island; Lyle Point; and Devil’s Head and Johnson Point.

Other choices on the horizon for winter chinook are the San Juan Islands (Area 7) open Feb. 1 through April 15; northern Puget Sound (Area 9) open Feb. 1 through April 15; and the east side of Whidbey Island (Areas 8-1 and 8-2) open Feb. 1 through April 30.

Salmon season meeting dates set for 2020

It’s never too late to begin making plans to be a part of the sport-salmon fishing season setting process. For the moment the early outlook appears to resemble last year’s fisheries with a few improvements, but more details won’t come to light until later next month.

Tentative meeting dates – Feb. 28, WDFW salmon forecast public meeting at DSHS Office Building 2 Auditorium, 1115 Washington Street S.E. in Olympia; March 16, North of Falcon public meeting at Lacey Community Center; March 19, North of Falcon public meeting in Sequim; March 23, Pacific Fishery Management Council public hearing at Westport; March 25, North of Falcon public meeting at WDFW Mill Creek office; and March 30, North of Falcon public meeting at Lynnwood Embassy Suites, 20610 44th Avenue West in Lynnwood.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will adopt final salmon seasons on April 5-11 at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 West 6th Street in Vancouver, WA.

Specific meeting agendas and times should be known soon. Details: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/north-falcon.

Oldest salmon derby gets underway

The Tengu Blackmouth Derby – the oldest salmon derby that began prior to and shortly after World War II in 1946 – is held on Sundays 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. starting Jan. 5 through Feb. 23 on Elliott Bay at the Seacrest Boathouse (now known as Marination Ma Kai) in West Seattle.

In previous years, the derby started in October when Area 10 opens for winter hatchery chinook. However, this year’s non-retention of chinook delayed the event to coincide with the Jan. 1 opener. Last year, the derby was cancelled when WDFW decided to shutdown Area 10 just a few weeks after it began.

What makes the derby so challenging is the simple fact blackmouth are scarce around the inner bay during winter months.

The derby is named after Tengu, a fabled Japanese character who stretched the truth, and just like Pinocchio, Tengu’s nose grew with every lie.

In a typical derby season, the catch ranges from 20 to 23 legal-size chinook and has reached as high as 50 to 100 fish although catches have dipped dramatically since 2009. The record-low catch was four fish in 2010, and all-time high was 234 in 1979.

The last full-length season was 2017 when 18 blackmouth were caught and a winning fish of 9 pounds-15 ounces went to Guy Mamiya. Justin Wong had the most fish with a total of five followed by John Mirante with four fish.

It has been a while since a big fish was caught in the derby dating back to 1958 when Tom Osaki landed a 25-3 fish. In the past decade, the largest was 15-5 caught by Marcus Nitta during the 2008 derby.

To further test your skills, only mooching is allowed in the derby. No artificial lures, flashers, hoochies (plastic squids) or other gear like downriggers are permitted. The membership fee is $15 and $5 for children age 12-and-under. Tickets will be available at Outdoor Emporium in Seattle. Rental boats with or without motors are available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Some Dungeness crab fisheries extended into January

The Dungeness crab season along the east side of Whidbey Island (Marine Catch Areas 8-1 and 8-2) will remain open daily through Jan. 31 – originally it was scheduled to close after Dec. 31.

WDFW indicates crab abundance can support an additional in-season increase to the harvest shares. Managers made the decision to extend the season to offset a closure that occurred between Oct. 23 through Nov. 28 while crab abundance was assessed.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Elsewhere some sections of northern Puget Sound and Hood Canal are also open daily now through Jan. 31. They are Area 9 between the Hood Canal Bridge and a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point (Port Gamble, Port Ludlow) and the portion of Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) north of a line projected due east from Ayock Point.

Crabbers won’t be required to have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab license endorsement or record Dungeness crab retained on a Catch Record Card when crabbing in January in Areas 8-1 and 8-2 and open sections of Area 9 and 12. However, a valid shellfish or combination license is required. The 2019 winter catch cards must be returned to WDFW by Feb. 4.

Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

NW Fishing Derby Series begins next month in San Juan Islands

The future of the revamped series is just on the horizon with three derbies happening in the San Juan Islands (Area 7), which is a winter chinook fishing hotspot.

They include the Resurrection Salmon Derby in Anacortes on Feb. 1-2 (sold out but has a waiting list); Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. Each has a first-place prize for the largest fish of $12,000 to $20,000.

Other events soon after are Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby on March 13-15 with a $10,000 first place prize; and Everett Blackmouth Derby on March 21-22 with a $3,000 check for the largest fish.

New events are the Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby on May 23; For the Love of Cod Derbies in Coos Bay/Charleston areas and Brookings, Oregon March 21-22 and March 28-29 respectively; Father’s Day Big Bass Classic on Tenmile Lake at Lakeside, Oregon on June 21-22; and the Something Catchy Kokanee Derby at Lake Chelan on April 18-19.

The highlight of the series is a chance to win a $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize all-white KingFisher 2025 Escape HT boat powered with Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ Loader Trailer. The boat is equipped with Shoxs Seats for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas; a custom engraved WhoDat Tower; Raymarine Electronics; Burnewiin Accessories; Scotty Downriggers; and a Dual Electronics stereo.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Anglers who enter any of the 20 derbies don’t need to catch a fish to win this beautiful boat and motor package.

A huge “thank you” to our other sponsors who make the series a success are Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; Lamiglas Rods; 710 ESPN The Outdoor Line; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Bayside Marine; Seattle Boat Company; Ray’s Bait Works; and Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.

You can get a first glimpse of the new derby boat pulled with a 2019 Chevy Silverado – provided by our sponsor Northwest Chevy Dealers and Burien Chevrolet – during The Seattle Boat Show from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1 at the CenturyLink Field and Event Center in Seattle.

The Northwest Fishing Derby Series is part of the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s Grow Boating Program which serves the NMTA’s core purpose—to increase the number of boaters in the Pacific Northwest.

The derby series is the most visible element of the program, which promotes boating and fishing throughout the region by partnering with existing derbies and marketing those events through targeted advertising, public relations and promotional materials. For details, go to www.NorthwestFishingDerbySeries.com.

I’ll see you on the water soon!