Who needs pink salmon when there are gobs of hungry Atlantics swimming around out there?!
Kevin Klein, a San Juan Islands salmon angler, reports a friend got into a whole pile of the net-pen escapees yesterday.
“The Atlantic Salmon that escaped form a net pen in the San Juan Islands are now spread across the area. Reports have come in of Atlantics caught as far South as Bush Point on Whidbey Island. Folks are out there catching them, and forty in a day is not uncommon. There is no limit, but current WDFW rules for other species must be followed while targeting them,” he reports.
Note that boat fishing is closed in Marine Area 9, Admiralty Inlet, due to low Coho returns to the Skagit and Stillaguamish Rivers, but the shorelines of Whidbey Island and the Kitsap Peninsula are open for bank fishing through September 4th.
“Once you find them on the troll, try casting spinners or Buzz Bombs to them while throwing pea gravel near the boat. Seriously, it mimics feeding time at net pens. These invasive fish need to be caught before they can spread disease, eat native smolts, or mix with natural Pacific stocks,” Klein reports.
The following is information from WDFW:
I do not have any more information on the details behind the escaped Atlantic Salmon. However we do have quite a few folks heading north interested in catching these fish. The common question is where and how.
Where is again primarily around the release site but don’t be surprised to see them spreading out (i.e., Bellingham Bay).
The how is still a bit of an unknown but from the most recent report I have is a few folks have had great success casting spinners. Being these are pen raised fish, they are likely not strong swimmers and will orient themselves to the top of the water column looking for the easy meal. Casting spinners into jumping/congregated fish near the surface has already worked for some anglers (and will avoid Chinook and coho). I have also heard that flies often used for sea-run cutthroat trout has been known to work in the past for those who flyfish. Our test fisher was out recently and saw plenty of fish near the site within Secret Bay. Trolling does not appear to work. However casting chrome-colored buzz bombs, rotators, and spinners had some success in shallow water (less than 3 feet and tight to shore). Fish were seen finning and jumping near the shore and seem to be particularly attracted to eel grass beds.
Regulations are (again) for fishing in the saltwater:
License plus salmon catch record card
Open only where salmon is open
Must stop fishing once the appropriate salmon daily limit is reached (Chinook, coho, pink)
No limit on Atlantic Salmon or size limit
Be prepared to be sampled at the boat ramp per our baseline creel sampling staff – and if you have tips on how to catch them, please share that information with staff