Tag Archives: salmon

Study Shows 74 Percent Loss Of Columbia Tidal Wetlands, 85 Percent Up And Down West Coast

THE FOLLOWING IS A NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION STORY

An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85 percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. The report, published in PLOS ONE, also highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted for restoration.

Where West Coast rivers reach the sea, estuaries serve as critical nurseries for juvenile salmon and steelhead as they make the transition from freshwater to the ocean. They are among the most dynamic and productive habitats known, also supporting migratory birds and a variety of other fish, shellfish, and terrestrial wildlife.

A FEDERAL GRAPHIC SHOWS THE AMOUNT OF TIDAL WETLANDS UP AND DOWN THE WEST COAST, INCLUDING IN SOME OF THE REGION’S MOST IMPORTANT SALMON SYSTEMS. (NOAA)

A team of scientists applied new technologies and data to identify and estimate the historic reach of nearly 450 West Coast estuaries. Their results show that the estuaries historically extended far beyond where they exist now. More than a century of development has erased roughly 85 percent of original vegetated estuarine wetlands, especially around major river deltas.

San Francisco Bay has lost about 85 percent of its original vegetated tidal wetlands, the study found. The Columbia River estuary has lost about 74 percent. While other scientists have estimated losses for these and other well-studied estuaries, this is the first time researchers have applied consistent methods across all 450 estuaries of the contiguous U.S. West Coast.

Mapping Reveals Restoration Opportunities

“Given how valuable estuaries are to so many different species, it’s important to understand how much they have changed and what that means for fish and wildlife that depend on them,” said Correigh Greene, research biologist at NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and coauthor of the new study.

The lost estuary habitat includes areas that were long ago diked and drained for agriculture, and forested wetlands that had not been widely recognized as estuary acreage, said Laura Brophy, lead author of the study and director of the Estuary Technical Group at the Institute for Applied Ecology in Corvallis, Oregon. Identifying such areas may open new opportunities for restoration of estuary habitat that otherwise might go overlooked.

BEFORE AND AFTER IMAGES FROM THE TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSHIP SHOW THE EFFECT OF REMOVING LEVEES AND TIDE GATES NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE TRASK RIVER. (TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSIHP VIA NMFS)

“By folding in these areas that may not have been recognized as part of estuaries, we have a better idea of just how important and extensive these estuaries were,” Brophy said. “Now we can see new restoration opportunities that people didn’t realize existed.”

The study’s high-resolution mapping also highlights low-elevation areas at greatest risk of flooding as the sea level rises with climate change. Tidal wetland restoration in these vulnerable areas can re-establish natural processes like sediment delivery. This will help these wetlands remain productive into the future.

Estuaries Once Covered 2 Million Acres

The scientists combined precise elevation mapping known as LIDAR with NOAA water level modeling to establish the extent of tides that define estuary habitat. Based on these maps, they estimated that all West Coast estuaries once covered nearly 2 million acres. This is an area nearly three times the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Scientists have data on the historic and current wetlands in 55 of the larger estuaries. Those estuaries have lost about 85 percent of their original vegetated wetlands. These 55 estuaries represent about 97 percent of historical estuary area on the West Coast, so their losses reflect almost all of the estuary losses.

Since Brophy has studied estuaries for years, she found the losses “dismaying but not surprising.” She said the good news is that fish and wildlife that live in estuaries must be adaptable because of the ever-changing tidal environment. She says “if you give them the chance to move back in, they will literally jump at the opportunity.”

The authors of the study include researchers from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the Institute for Applied Ecology, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, The Nature Conservancy, Moss Landing Marine Labs, and Pacific Spatial Solutions. The project was coordinated by the Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership.

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Chinook Released Into Lake Roosevelt

Another week, another 30 Chinook swimming where ocean-returning salmon haven’t been in the Upper Columbia for decades and decades.

A tribal newspaper based in North-central Washington reports that the Colville Tribes’ latest release occurred near Keller, above Grand Coulee Dam, which blocked anadromous fish runs 80 years ago.

GRAND COULEE DAM AND LAKE ROOSEVELT. (BUREAU OF RECLAMATION)

It’s a ceremonial move, one that’s “very sacred to us, very important,” Business Chairman Rodney Cawston said, according to the Tribal Tribune.

“We have strong prayers today, because our ancestors, our elders at the Ceremony of Tears, they had strong prayers that one day we would see these fish return back to the river, back to our people,” he said.

The summer kings were surplus to spawning needs at Wells Hatchery. Just as the 30 the tribes put into Lake Rufus Woods recently, they were screened beforehand by WDFW for an infectious fish virus before the release.

The paper reports that 30 more acoustically tagged Chinook were also let go in Rufus as an experiment, with another batch slated to go into dam-blocked Upper Columbia waters next week.

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Salmon Biting On Lower Puyallup Opener

Salmon fishing action began its transition to Puget Sound rivers with today’s opening of the Puyallup.

Dylan Chlipala was among the anglers on the Pierce County river this morning, limiting by 7 a.m.

DYLAN CHLIPALA SHOWS OFF HIS PUYALLUP RIVER LIMIT. (INSTAGRAM: @DYLANFISHES_PNW)

“Lots of pinks in the river already,” he told Northwest Sportsman‘s Jason Brooks, adding that he’d caught and released around 10 while beaching a hatchery Chinook and wild coho.

Use drift bobbers and enough weight to hold bottom in the silty currents of the glacial river.

“Drift fish bright, size 12 Corkies (red rocket red) with cerise or chartreuse yarn on a size 1 or 2 Gamakatsu octopus hook, soaked with Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna Super Gel, on a 12-pound Izorline XXX clear leader that is 36 to 48 inches long, with a 1/2- to 3/4-ounce cannonball or six-shot slinky, with 15-pound hi-viz yellow Izorline platinum mainline,” Brooks recommends.

The Puyallup is open from the 11th Street Bridge near the mouth upstream to the Carbon, with a daily bag of two adult salmon, release wild kings and chums.

This year’s forecast calls for just over 102,000 harvestable salmon to return to the river, though of course some of those are needed for broodstock and spawning escapement goals.

Night closure, anti-snagging and barbless hook rules are in effect.

Also note that the Puyallup is closed on Sundays through the end of August, then Sundays-Tuesdays in September and October to make room for tribal netting.

“Popular areas on the Puyallup include the K-Mart Hole, which as you might guess is across from the old discount store, now a farm supply store and a Planet Fitness. Access it from the North Levy Road, as you cannot cross the river from the parking lot. Try the banks along the shore near the ‘blue building,’ a large glass building on East Main Street, or under the 5th Street bridge,” Brooks reported for a 2017 issue of the magazine.

This isn’t to say that fishing on Puget Sound is over and you should winterize your boat already.

It’s not — it’s peak pink season throughout the inland sea, clipped Chinook are still biting in Areas 5, 6, 10, 11 and 13, and ocean-returning coho should be moving in soon in better numbers. Track the action through WDFW’s daily creel reports.

But the opening of the Puyallup today, Quilcene tomorrow, Duwamish next week, Nooksack, Skagit and Snohomish on Sept. 1 and Stillaguamish in mid-September add to the options.

Free Fishing Weekend This Sat., Sun. In Oregon

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

It’s free to fish, crab or clam in Oregon on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 17-18.

 During these two days, no fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement) are required to fish, crab or clam anywhere in Oregon for both residents and non-residents.

“FAMILY TIME IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT,” SAYS TOM SCHNELL, HERE WITH THE REWARDS OF A RECENT DAD-DAUGHTER RHONNA DAY AT PAULINA LAKE, AND YOU COULD ENJOY TIME ON THE WATER WITH YOUR LOVED ONES DURING OREGON’S AUG. 17-18 FREE FISHING WEEKEND. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. If you are fishing for salmon, steelhead or marine species like rockfish, remember to check the Fishing section of the Recreation Report for the zone you want to fish to find the latest regulations.

Look for the latest on fishing conditions and regulations at ODFW’s Weekly Recreation Report, which is updated every Wednesday. Trout and warmwater fishing are ideal for beginners; see the trout stocking schedule to find out when your local pond was stocked with hatchery rainbow trout.

If you’re in the mountains, combine a hike with a fishing trip and hike in to one of Oregon’s higher elevation mountain lakes. These stay cooler in the summer which keeps trout on the bite. See ODFW’s guide to Fishing Oregon’s hike-in lakes.  

If you are on the coast this weekend, ocean fishing for rockfish, tuna and coho salmon has been good. Surfperch can be targeted from beaches and jetties by those staying on shore (see How-to fish for surfperch). Or try crabbing, which is currently open along the entire Oregon coast (reminder to always double check ODA shellfish restrictions before clamming or crabbing).

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Washington Girl Wins Alaska Women’s Coho Derby

A Tri-Cities girl triumphed at an Alaska coho derby with a 13.46-pounder last weekend, winning $2,000 in cash and prizes, and she could score more if her big catch holds on in a season-long fishing competition.

MALEAH CHAPIN SHOWS OFF HER WOMEN’S SILVER DERBY-WINNING COHO, CAUGHT LAST WEEKEND AND WORTH $2,000 IN CASH AND PRIZES FOR THE PASCO, WASHINGTON ANGLER. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

“Being crowned something or anything is just a bit shocking to me,” said Maleah Chapin, 12, after she was declared Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood in Valdez during the 14th Annual Women’s Silver Salmon Derby on Saturday.

Along with $1,000 in cash and $1,000 in prizes from a local outdoor gear and clothing store, she received a tiara and put on the event’s “ceremonial pink bathrobe” during the ceremonies.

According to a press release, Chapin knew she was the winner the moment the second-place coho was announced, a 13.34-pounder caught by a local woman, Rowena Palomar.

CHAPIN REACTS TO WINNING THE DERBY. (VALDEZ FISH DERBIES)

“Seeing how my mother’s face was, was really incredible. I love her so much,” Chapin said. “Whenever you see somebody and they get crowned for anything, you never think it’s a really big deal. When you actually get crowned, it’s like … wow!”

Valdez is located on an inlet in Prince William Sound and hosts other fishing derbies as well.

Chapin’s fish currently is in second in the Silver Salmon Derby, which began in late July and runs through Sept. 1, putting the Pasco resident in line for more potential winnings. A Minnesota angler with a 13.88 is sitting in first.

While many entrants in the women’s derby are from Alaska, at least three other Washington gals were in the top 50, with the 19th place finisher hailing from Ecuador.

Closer to the Northwest, last weekend saw the VIP Outdoors Fish Like a Girl Tournament out of Astoria, and this Saturday is the Lipstick Salmon Slayers Tournament at Buoy 10.

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Deschutes Mouth Plume In Columbia Again Closed To All Fishing

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

Per direction from the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their Aug. 2 meeting, ODFW is closing all fishing (including catch-and-release) in the Columbia River around the mouth of the Deschutes River and in the lower Deschutes River from the mouth upstream to markers placed on the downstream end of Moody Rapids, from Monday, Aug. 12 through Sept. 15.

The closure is to protect wild summer steelhead and follows several other regulatory steps ODFW and WDFW have taken to protect wild steelhead this year. Returns of ESA-listed wild Snake River steelhead this year are forecasted to be similar to the extremely poor return of 2017, and there are ongoing concerns about the potential effects of angling on wild steelhead that may gather in cooler water near tributary mouths like the Deschutes.

The boundary of the angling closure is defined by a line projecting from the South Channel Range “B” marker located approximately 3/4-mile upstream of the mouth of the Deschutes, downstream through Red Buoy Marker “4”, and terminating at the flashing red USCG light #2 on the Oregon shore downstream of the mouth. (See map on Columbia River Zone fishing regulations page.)

The Commission directed ODFW to take similar steps to close the mouth of the Deschutes last year. Based on additional discussions with the public and regional biologists, the boundary of this year’s closure has been refined to reduce the impact on Chinook fishing opportunities.

This action follows a number of regulatory steps ODFW and WDFW have taken to protect wild steelhead during Columbia River summer and fall fisheries this year. Bag limits in the Columbia River were reduced to one hatchery steelhead per day for the month of July. For fall fisheries, all steelhead (hatchery and wild) must be released during the following periods:

  • Aug. 1-31 from Buoy 10 upstream to The Dalles Dam,
  • Aug. 1 – Sept. 30 from The Dalles Dam upstream to John Day Dam,
  • Sept. 1 – Oct. 31 from John Day to McNary Dam, and
  • Oct. 1 – Nov. 30 from McNary Dam upstream to the OR/WA state line.

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Tasseomancy, Puget Sound Pink Salmon Style

We’re trying not to jinx it so work with us a moment, but ethay umpyhay unray ookslay argerlay anthay WWDFay orecastfay!

The translation from pig Latin: The signs are getting better that this year’s Puget Sound pink salmon run will more than meet the relatively low preseason prediction — and perhaps come in well above it.

PUGET SOUND PINK SALMON ANGLERS’ SMILES MAY GET BIGGER AND BIGGER AS SIGNS POINT TO A MORE ROBUST RUN THAN FIRST EXPECTED. (BRIAN LULL)

Among the harbingers, portents and auguries we’re seeing at the bottom of our wine glass this afternoon are good catches in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Sound, strong early returns to Hood Canal, and relatively high numbers at a trap on the Skykomish.

It’s still early and there’s waaaaaaaay too much uncertainty out there to know how far off the official forecast of 608,388 ultimately may turn out to be.

But on the back of a salmon stock analyst’s sriracha-stained napkin we recently discovered in the trash at a rest area between Olympia and Fraser Panel meetings is a guesstimate that the run could actually come in between 1 and 2 million strong.

And nearby we also found a pair of seagull-pecked graphs for two fisheries in the Straits.

One shows commercial test catches in British Columbia’s Area 20 — the north side of the waterway — that say this year’s Puget Sound stocks are turning up at rates three times higher than they did during 2017’s piddling return of roughly half a million.

The other is of sport catches in Washington’s Marine Area 5, Sekiu and Pillar Point, which have been matching and besting the longterm historical average.

A CHART TRACKING PINK SALMON CATCH PER UNIT EFFORT IN WASHINGTON’S MARINE AREA 5 SHOWS IT SPIKING IN RECENT DAYS AND LONGTERM AVERAGES.

Both graphs show that peak fishing is still to come in a week to two weeks.

Meanwhile, WDFW catch stats show that yesterday 72 pinks were tallied at the Olson’s East Docks, 28 at Van Riper’s Resort.

But humpies are also turning up throughout Puget Sound proper –38 at Everett, 31 at Shilshole, 22 at Armeni and 15 at Point Defiance on Wednesday.

If salmon anglers weren’t focusing on Chinook in those areas, the catches might be higher still.

The caveat is that a strong bite doesn’t absolutely, unequivocally mean a strong return — the fish could just be hungry, like in 2015, when they came in starving and snapping at everything in a desperate attempt to get bigger before spawning.

But some 8,731 pinks have also already returned to the Hoodsport Hatchery, 5,630 more than the next best mark for this same point over the past four runs, 2015’s 3,101.

And at Sunset Falls on the South Fork Sky, 42 have arrived at the fishway, five more than 2017 and twice as many as 2015.

(WDFW creel and hatchery escapement reports go back further than 2013 but are not readily available by week — or at least I haven’t discovered the secret stash with the agency’s rejiggered and occasionally mildly infuriating new website.)

So what does this all mean?

As humpy returns rebuild from the pummeling they took from The Blob and four big fall 2015 floods, it won’t be a return to the bonkers harvest years of 2009, 2011 and 2013 — praise be their names and hallowed be their memories.

But as king salmon action begins to tail off and before ocean coho arrive, pinks should provide a decent bridge fishery in the saltwater and then the rivers over the coming weeks and month or so.

In fact, this oracle of the genus Oncorhynchus just may swap out the Point Wilsons and Pucci Jigs in his go bag for the trays of pink diamond-shaped darts in his shed.

A wide variety of gear will get pinks to bite, but the “humpy special” — a pink squid behind a dodger — for trolling behind a downrigger or banana weight, and a Buzz Bomb and squid for casting off the beach or into schools from a boat are among the best on the Sound. Barbless hooks are required.

Watch for jumpers or your sonar and work the schools as they move around in the shipping channels and along shorelines.

With no bonus limit on marine waters due to the low initial forecast, up to two can be retained if you haven’t kept a Chinook or coho.

Note that there are fishery restrictions in place in Marine Area 7 (closed), Area 8-2 and 11, so be sure to check the pamphlet.

As they move into rivers, pink jigs and Dick Nites are best bets.

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Westport Chinook Limit Bumped Up To 2 Starting Saturday

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

Westport anglers may retain two Chinook as part of salmon daily limit beginning Saturday, Aug. 10

Action: Anglers may retain up to two Chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

ANGLER WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP TWO KINGS A DAY OUT OF WESTPORT STARTING AUG. 10. DAVE ANDERSON HOISTS CHINOOK FROM 2014’S FISHERY IN MARINE AREA 2. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Effective date: August 10, 2019.

Species affected: Chinook salmon.

Location: Marine Area 2.

Reason for action: Sufficient quota remains for Chinook in Marine Area 2 to allow retention of more than one Chinook salmon in the daily limit.

Additional information: Chinook min. size 24″, coho min. size 16″, other salmon no min. size. Daily limit of two salmon, release wild coho.

The Grays Harbor control zone and Marine Area 2-2 west of buoy 13 are closed to salmon angling beginning August 12.

Anglers are reminded to always check for emergency rule changes prior to fishing. Rule changes can be found on the website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500.

Area 9 Chinook Reopening For At Least 4 More Days

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Action: Reopens a portion of Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) to hatchery Chinook retention. Closes the section of Marine Area 9 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point to salmon fishing.

TIM LENNOX HOISTS AN AREA 9 HATCHERY CHINOOK CAUGHT LAST SATURDAY AS RYLEY FEE SPRAYS IT OFF. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Effective dates: Tuesday, Aug. 6 through Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

Species affected: Hatchery Chinook salmon.

Location: Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

Reason for action: Sufficient quota is available for Marine Area 9 (with the exception of the area south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point) to open for hatchery Chinook salmon retention through Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

This action is being taken to provide angling opportunities while ensuring compliance with conservation objectives.

As part of the fisheries agreements made with co-managers during the salmon season-setting process, the section of Marine Area 9 south of the line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point is closed to all salmon fishing when the rest of Marine Area 9 is open for hatchery Chinook retention.

Additional information: Salmon daily limit 2, up to 1 hatchery Chinook may be retained. Chinook minimum size 22 inches.  Release wild Chinook, chum, and wild coho.

On Friday, Aug. 9, fisheries managers will evaluate the fishery. If sufficient quota remains available, WDFW will announce when Marine Area 9 will reopen to hatchery Chinook retention.

For additional regulations, anglers should consult the 2019-20 Washington Sports Fishing Rules pamphlet available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Anglers can check WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/reports for the latest information on marine areas that are managed to a quota or guideline.

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From Salmon To Perch To Crab To Derbies, August Has Lotsa Ops: Yuasa

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

In the blink of an eye, summer has shifted past the midway point but that doesn’t necessarily mean anglers should throw shade on late-season fishing opportunities.

In fact, the horizon looks very bright in August when salmon fisheries come into play at Buoy 10 near the Columbia River mouth, Willapa Bay, inner- Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Freshwater fish seekers also can set their sights on abundant yellow perch in many statewide lakes!

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

First off, the pink – a salmon that returns mainly during odd-numbered years and often referred to as “humpies” for a distinct hump that grows on their back near spawning time – forecast is a paltry 608,388 which could be among the lowest runs on record dating back to 1959. Returns soared above 1 million in 2001 and peaked at more than 10 million in 2009. The strong pace continued when it hit 6-plus million in 2011, more than 8 million in 2013 and dipped to 4 million in 2015.

In 2015, the pinks went from bloom to gloom as they faced a monumental drought period and extremely warm water temperatures in rivers. Winter flooding followed leaving very few young pinks to make it out to the ocean where they eventually ran into “The Blob” a large mass of warm water that wreaked havoc on sea life.

That lead to a dismal 2017 with an actual return of around 511,000 (1.1 million was forecasted) pinks, which was less than 82 percent the historical 10-year average.

While the pink forecast is conservative – this summer’s unexpected strong return of chinook and coho – we just might see a late fourth quarter comeback for humpies too. In fact, some early pinks began showing up in catches back in July so don’t give up on them just yet.
“There have been a lot of pinks caught (at Neah Bay and La Push) and many of them are nice size fish,” said Wendy Beeghley, the WDFW coastal salmon manager.

An unexpected large return of pinks were also showing up in other places like Sekiu, outside of the Freshwater Bay closure zone and in open areas off Port Angeles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as well as the San Juan Islands (which closed Aug. 1 for salmon fishing).
The Puget Sound pink run usually peaks in mid-August, and in southern Puget Sound the last week of August and early September are best.

Pinks aren’t the only game and so far, the coho and hatchery king fisheries have been a pleasant surprise from the coast clear into open areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The party lights began flashing for coho in June when places like central Puget Sound (Area 10) reopened for off-the-charts good action on resident coho. Then good king action began happening last month in the San Juan Islands (now closed to fishing in August), Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Tulalip bubble fishery and south-central Puget Sound.

It was the same scenario in the ocean when catches ramped up in late June from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco and have remained good this past month. Most of this is likely related to a strong forecast of 1,009,600 coho to the Columbia River compared to a 2018 forecast of 349,000.

Look for coho success in open areas of Puget Sound and Strait to only get better in August and build to a crescendo in September. In Puget Sound the total coho return for 2019 is 670,159, which is up from last year’s 557,149.

There will be a short inner-Elliott Bay king fishery from Aug. 2-5 and additional days may occur if in-season data shows the run to be stronger than expected. That won’t be the only crowning moment as areas from Whidbey Island south to Olympia have seen an uptick in catches of hatchery kings and should see good fishing this month in places that remain open.

WDFW extended the hatchery king salmon fishery in northern Puget Sound (Area 9), which is open through Saturday (Aug. 3). Central Puget Sound (Area 10) also remains open for hatchery kings as does south central Puget Sound (Area 11). Look for the latter two to produce some stellar fishing heading into this month.

Lastly, before heading out the door, check the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ for any possible emergency closures this month and also what marine and freshwater areas are open or closed for salmon.

Yellow perch options bloom in the summer heat

There’s nothing better than getting a first-time angler or youth hooked on fishing and yellow perch is one of those prime options.

Lake Washington – which is 20 miles long and covers more than 22,000 acres – is one of those places that comes alive in August for yellow perch.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Their population levels in this large urban lake is very robust and they continue to have yearly strong recruitment and survival rates that won’t make the slightest dent on production.

Most yellow perch average 7 to 10 inches along with some “jumbos” hitting the 11- to 12-inch range.

WDFW experts say it is only a matter of time before the official state record could come from Lake Washington. The current state record of 2.75 pounds was caught by Larry Benthien at Snelson’s Slough in Skagit County on June 22, 1969.

The reason behind this possibility is due in part to the ample feed and room for yellow perch to grow in Lake Washington, which is the second largest natural-bodied lake in Washington. Female perch are the largest and tend to grow much faster (usually maturing in three to four years) and can live if 8 to 10 years.

The best time of the year to fish for yellow perch begins around July when the water heats up, and peaks from August through October.

Look for schools of yellow perch in shallow water, 15 to 35 feet, and close to the shoreline. They will school up in shaded locations just outside the cover of weed beds, milfoil, aquatic weeds and lily pads or under docks, piers and overhanging trees and brush.

Yellow perch are active throughout the day and the only time they seek out covered areas is at night when predators are lurking.

Popular locations to fish are Seward Park; Kenmore log boom and pier; Juanita Bay; Magnuson Park shoreline; Andrews Bay; Newport area and slough; Yarrow Bay; Gene Coulon Park in Renton; Mercer Island near Luther Burbank Park; and off Leschi Park, Madison Park, Stan Sayres Pits and Mount Baker Park. Areas from the Montlake Cut into Lake Union are also good especially off Gasworks Park.

A light-to-medium-action trout fishing rod with a spinning reel attached to 4- to 6-pound test line works best. Use a worm and drop-shot (egg-style) weight attached to a three-way swivel or Sniper Lure Snubs – a colorful tiny 3-inch plastic worm. Live maggots, a skirted crappie jig work well. After you catch your first perch cut a small chunk of the meat or even a perch eyeball as bait.

Other good perch lakes are Sammamish near Issaquah; Kapowsin southeast of Puyallup; Beaver and Pine near Issaquah; Sawyer northwest of Black Diamond; Harts southeast of Yelm; Goodwin northwest of Marysville; Stevens east of Everett; American near Fort Lewis; Angle in Sea-Tac; Desire in Renton; and Meridian in Kent.

Dungeness crab fishing opportunities providing fairly decent catches

The Dungeness crab fishing success has been somewhat better than expected although many are having to still throw back some soft-shelled crabs.

Areas east of Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary line (Marine Catch Area 4), Sekiu (5), Port Angeles (6), east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) and northern Puget Sound (9) are open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

Central Puget Sound (10) is open through this Saturday, Aug. 3. The shorter season is due to an overage in last year’s crab catch.

Hood Canal (12) north of a line projected due east of Ayock Point is open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Areas south of Ayock Point are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

The San Juan Islands (7 South) is open through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). San Juan Islands (7 North) opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

South-central Puget Sound (11) and southern Puget Sound (13) are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

NW Salmon Derby Series loaded with events in August

The derby series kicked into high gear with the Lake Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby on July 24-28 seeing a good number of anglers turn out despite the  tough fishing. Top angler in the adult division was Bret Hojem with a 13.54-pound chinook; and top youth angler was Cooper Malcolm with a 9.82 chinook.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Prior to that the Puget Sound Anglers Bellingham Salmon Derby was held July 12-14. A total of 392 adult tickets and 72 youth tickets were sold with 164 chinook weighed-in for the event, which was 10 more fish caught than last year.

Tom Hartley of Anacortes took the top prize of $7,500 with a 21.90-pound hatchery chinook; second was Chris Wilson with a 21.60 worth $2,500; and third was Adam Beardsley with a 20.62 worth $1,000.

Other derbies on the horizon are the South King County PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 3; Brewster Salmon Derby on Aug. 1-4; Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 10; Vancouver, B.C. Chinook Classic, Aug. 17-18; and Edmonds PSA Coho Derby, Sept. 7. The Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby on Aug. 31 has been cancelled due to expected low salmon returns.

Drawing for the grand prize boat takes place at the conclusion of the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22. New at the Everett Coho Derby is a second weigh-in station located at the Edmonds Marina.

The grand prize $75,000 Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop boat from Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston will be making the rounds to each derby. The boat is powered with a Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motor on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer.

The boat is rigged with Burnewiin accessories; Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronics stereo. Other sponsors include Silver Horde Lures; Master Marine and Tom-n-Jerry’s; Harbor Marine; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Sportco and Outdoor Emporium; and Prism Graphics. It is trailered with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – not part of the grand prize giveaway – courtesy of Northwest Chevrolet and Burien Chevrolet.
In other related news, anglers can also start looking at 2020 with dates finalized for Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15.

Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Summer is sneaking by quickly so it’s time for me to jump on the boat and get into the fishing action. I’ll see you on the water!

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