OUTDOORS: Where to find the best beach fishing

By Matt Schubert
PDN Outdoors Columnist

TRENDY CLUBS, HIGH society parties, the cool kids' lunch table . . . these are things enjoyed by the elite.

As any reader of this column knows, I'm hardly one of those people.

Rather, I'm the kind of man bouncers are specifically told to spurn and some women look past with an apathetic eye.

I enjoy a good pair of plaid shorts from Goodwill, ice cold (or lukewarm) Miller High Life and football on my 17-inch television set with a hole in the back of it.

The only upper crust I taste comes at the end of a slice of pepperoni from Pizza Hut.

And whenever the saltwater salmon season comes around, I do what the rest of the plebeians do -- try and hitch a ride on someone else's boat.

Let's face it, if you want to catch a coho or chinook, the best way to go about it usually involves an outboard motor, downriggers and a sea-worthy vessel at least 18 feet in length.

Unfortunately, all of that costs money which I, and hordes of others, don't have.

Yet rather than engage in an ugly discourse on class warfare, I offer a solution for my fellow proletariats.

There are options for us ordinary anglers, places where the only mode of transportation necessary involves two feet and a healthy constitution.

Yes, my dear Peninsulites, we're talking about beach angling. The way of the wanderer.

The North Olympic Peninsula possesses many productive saltwater beaches.

Here are some of the better ones:

Marrowstone Point

• Location: Northeastern tip of Marrowstone Island, off Marrowstone Point Road.

• Target: Coho and chinook.

• Fishing: Anglers have a two-hour window to catch salmon here, according to Brian Menkal of Swain's Outdoor (360-385-1313) in Port Townsend.

"The best time is an hour before high tide to an hour after," he said.

"What you want is all that water against that beach. [The fish] come really close."

The salmon will take buzz bombs or Point Wilson darts, one ounce or less.

For flycasters, streamer fly patters or anything imitating a bait fish also work.

Point Wilson

• Location: Northeastern tip of Fort Worden State Park.

• Target: Coho and chinook.

• Fishing: South Puget Sound returning salmon have little choice but to swim through Admiralty Inlet. Point Wilson sits at its epicenter.

Just like its counterpart (Marrowstone), Wilson is best fished during the period before and after high tide, Menkal said.

The same gear applies as well, although a steady hand might have another option.

"Some guys flip herring out there," Menkal said. "It's a really tricky thing.

"If you cast it too hard, the hooks will rip through the flesh of the herring.

"[So] you don't cast, you flip your cut plug herring out there. The guys that master this can do really well."

Oak Bay

• Location: South end of Indian Island off Highway 116

• Target: Sea-run cutthroat.

• Fishing: The cut between Indian Island and Port Hadlock can be very productive at the right time.

"As you go over the bridge the road veers to the right, and there's a great spot for clams and such [on the beach]," Menkal said,

"It's also a really good spot for sea-run cutthroat. I'm sure you can pick up some salmon there, too."

The beach on the northern end of the canal off Old Ferry Road tends to fish well during the low tide, while the Indian Island side tends to be best at high tide.

Flyfishers can use a variety of baitfish patterns.

Menkal recommends the Knudsen Spider, a popular saltwater cutthroat fly.

Gibson Spit

• Location: Marlyn Nelson County Park at the end of Port Williams Road east of Sequim.

• Target: Coho and sea-run cutthroat.

• Fishing: The unique geography of Gibson Spit makes it a premiere beach fishing spot.

"As the water comes around Gibson Point it creates a big eddy," Menkal said.

"That's one of those spots where you'd want to fish a really good moving outgoing tide.

"The bait fish are moving around, and they get caught up in that [eddy], so the bigger fish will sit out there and wait for that food to come whipping to them. It's like delivery."

Anglers can target salmon during part of the year and can fish for cutties year-round.

Ediz Hook

• Location: West side of Port Angeles, next to the Nippon Paper Industries USA mill.

• Target: Chinook and coho.

• Fishing: The conditions have to be just right, and when they are, this can be a great spot to hook salmon.

(Note: Make sure to fish the side opposite Port Angeles Harbor.)

"There's times when those fish come in real shallow in there," said Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles.

"The high tide is the best. That's when you can catch salmon."

Like at Marrowstone and Wilson, anglers can throw out buzz bombs. Spoons and jigs work as well.

Just don't use anything over an ounce, because it will sink too fast. All you'll hook is some kelp.

Observatory Point

• Location: Western edge of Freshwater Bay inside Salt Creek Recreation Area.

• Target: Chinook and coho

• Fishing: This one takes a little bit of a hike, but it can be well worth it.

"If you can get out there, the fish sit right off that point," Aunspach.

"There's times when the tide is low that a guy could get out there and do that."

The gear is the same as above: buzz bombs, spoons and jigs.

Keep in mind, however, that Freshwater Bay is closed to "fin-fish" fishing from July 1 through Oct. 31.

Eagle Point

• Location: Hoko river State Park west of Sekiu, off Eagle Point Road.

• Target: Coho and chinook.

• What to do: It can be extremely hit or miss, but locals do hook off Eagle Rock during the summer.

"It's got to be a real extreme high tide either early in the morning or late at night," said Gary Ryan of Van Riper's Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu.

This hole also requires a hike and can be fished with buzz bombs and darts.

Kalaloch Beach

• Location: Off U.S. Highway 101 approximately 35 miles south of Forks.

• Target: Surf perch

• Fishing: While it's difficult to find a beach to fish for salmon from on the West End, surf perch is a different story all together.

Kalaloch Beach No. 4 is considered the best of the bunch for perch, although First Beach at Rialto is also a favorite.

"If you don't catch one you'd better move up and down the beach until you start catching fish," said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks.

"They travel in schools, and once you're in to them, you're into them.

"If you find them you're going to catch them, because they aren't the brightest critters on earth."

Gooding recommends putting a heavy weight on the end of your line and placing two hooks above it with clam necks, sand shrimp or a new bait called Berkeley Gulp.

Hood Canal

• Location: Off U.S. Highway 101 south of Quilcene.

• Target: Sea-run cutthroat.

• Fishing: The Canal is littered with cutthroat fishing holes, according to Dave Steinbaugh of Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters (360-417-0937) in Port Angeles.

"Pretty much any public access that you can get to along the Canal you have potential of finding fish," he said.

"If there's a creek involved, sometimes all the better."

Streamers, bait fish patters, and surface poppers work well for fly anglers.

And in order to find the sea-runs, you must cover a lot of water.


Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at matt.schubert@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 16. 2009 12:17AM
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