Vid Shows How To Legally Fish Samish Kings, Warns Of Potential Closure

Call it the eggs-and-the-stick treatment.

To get ahead of snagging problems at the infamous Samish fall Chinook fishery, a local fisheries biologist who also happens to fish the North Sound river outlines legal methods for catching these hatchery kings in a recently posted YouTube video.

Brett Barkdull also warns anglers that this year the fishery is under new regulations. WDFW will be evaluating how things go in August and early September before extending the season beyond Sept. 8.

We blogged about the problems on the Samish back in April. Over the years, Chinook fishing here has gone in a direction that Washington salmon managers don’t like, and for this season, they began considering their options, some of which were described as “draconian.”

They really don’t want to kill the fishery because of those clipped fish meant for the barbecue,  but say it’s become such an enforcement nightmare and breeding ground for less than ethical behavior that they even considered reducing the number of Chinook that reach the river by adding more commercial fishing time in the bay.

Ultimately, this line appeared in the 2013-14 fishing regs: “Salmon fishery may reopen pending an evaluation of angler behavior, regulation compliance, littering, and trespassing.”

The size of this year’s run makes it important that anglers comply.

“I would say on the order of 15,000-plus is a reasonable guess” for how many Chinook will actually slip past San Juans hooks and commercial nets and actually enter the small river, Barkdull says.

Past seasons have seen as many as 7,000 harvested, with another 10,000 back to the hatchery, he says.

I’d asked him if he was willing to show anglers how to do it right, and that’s basically what he does in the video.

“Chinook on the Samish River are very good biters,” he notes in the 3-minute, 40-second video.

Poo-pooing jigs, he points to three methods to legally hook kings.

“One legitimate way is to use spinners,” Barkdull says while standing in front of an array of Blue Fox and Mepps Aglia models. “I tend to use more the greens and chartreuses personally, but it’s all personal preference on what you use.”

He says they’re equally effective at high and low tides.

“Another method commonly used on the Samish River to catch Chinook is to free-drift eggs. This is a very simple setup basically using eggs, a hook, and I like a little piece of yarn on there for added color. The only other part of this tackle setup is a single swivel,” he says.


Holding the line up, the swivel is about 3 feet up the leader.

The third setup includes a float, swivel, single split shot, hook and eggs, and is used at low tide.

“When the Chinook bites, the bobber will go down,” he says.

Warning that snagging is snagging no matter the type of gear used, Barkdull asks that anglers follow their own moral compass.

“Please don’t join the crowd,” he urges.

The idea to make the video had been kicked around the office for awhile, Barkdull related in a phone call late Friday morning.

“How can we make this thing work?” staffers wondered, he says.

In the past, WDFW has hung signs around the fishery warning about snagging only to see them disappear the next day. that led them to believe that instructional notices posted at the state access and other points would probably suffer a similar fate.

That led to the new approach.

The video is more evidence that the agency is expanding its message deeper into social media. After a lull of several years, and then posting a smattering of wolf and wolverine videos, WDFW has put together solid presentations on how to fish for crappie, kokanee, bass and trout and fly fish for tiger muskie in recent months.

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