OUTDOORS: Final countdown to summer salmon season
By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Tuesday marks the opening day in all three locales, but anglers have to be selective as to species with certain areas offering more choices than others.
To let prospective fishers make the most informed decision on what fish to target, here are the options in each Marine Area.
Marine Area 5
To the west in Area 5, Sekiu will see a surge in population with the small community growing exponentially during the month of July and through August.
That's a good thing for those who rely on sport fishing tourism like those at Olson's, Curley's and Van Riper's resorts.
Hatchery chinook are the prize in this portion of the Strait, with a minimum size of 22 inches for this species.
No such size restriction exists on other salmon species, but anglers have to send back wild chinook, wild coho and chum.
Daily limit is two salmon per angler.
Marine Area 6
In Area 6, anglers wishing to keep their chinook should stick to the west of the No. 2 buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook.
They'll be able to keep a limit of two salmon plus an additional two sockeye.
The minimum allowable size for the hatchery chinook is 22 inches.
Anglers have to send back wild chinook, wild coho and chum.
“I think its going to be a pretty good season in Area 6,” Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.
“I think it will go the full six weeks. I could be wrong, but I see it lasting.”
Aunspach said warmer-than-normal water temperatures may impact the season.
“The warm water situation could cause some issues,” Aunspach said.
“We had similar conditions a few years ago and the fish were there but they were not where they would normally be.
“You'd have to run around and start looking and it was a much more search-intensive fishery.”
With salmon and crab season both starting soon — crabbing begins Thursday in Marine Area 4 east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line,5,6, 9 and 12-Hood Canal — and camping season kicking into high gear, Aunspach has been busy.
He's seen a new arrival catch the eye of salmon fishers in recent weeks: the King Candy line of jigs in candlefish, herring and anchovie from Point Wilson Dart.
“I've heard some good success stories with these from out at LaPush and Neah Bay,” Aunspach said.
“I put the candlefish and the herring in my tackle box.”
Aunspach is counting down the days until he motors out for 10 uninterrupted days of king fishing.
Anglers are expected to apply pressure to familiar spots close to Ediz Hook.
“The Winter Hole right off the Nippon mill near the little red buoy, that will be popular,” Aunspach said.
He also mentioned “staying outside” on the Humps, a series of undersea formations about 4 miles west of Ediz Hook.
Jerry Wright of Jerry's Bait and Tackle (360-457-1308) in Port Angeles mentioned last week that Coho Killer and King Fisher spoons were his most popular item in advance of the season.
Those salmon aren't stupid, once they bite on a metal lure they'll want to spit it out, so sharpen those hooks to make sure the bite holds.
Anglers who stray East of that No. 2 buoy at Ediz Hook can keep hatchery coho but will have to send back all chinook, wild coho and chum.
The daily limit is two plus two sockeye.
Marine Area 9
Marine Area 9 is open for all salmon but chinook and chum, which basically means coho and sockeye are up for grabs.
Hatchery chinook are legal starting July 16 in Area 9.
Be patient, at least one big king should still be swimming around off Midchannel Bank.
My buddy Sean McGinnis of Port Townsend had to release what looked to be a 25-to 30-pound king off of Port Townsend while fishing for lingcod back in mid-June.
The king hit on a spreader bar and hole herring, which McGinnis said was a first for him.
LaPush (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) have been serving up some smaller chinook and coho.
“We haven't had a whole lot of effort yet, but did see some salmon show up off of LaPush,” said state fisheries biologist Wendy Beeghley.
“LaPush had a 1.3 fish per angler number with about three chinook to every one coho.”
A total of 177 anglers were tallied in LaPush from June 16-22, with 161 chinook landed and 64 coho.
Beeghley said the coho were running pretty small.
“The coho are averaging about 4 or 5 pounds and the biggest I've seen this summer season was a 7-pounder off of Westport,” Beeghley said.
With more angler pressure off Neah Bay, the catch dipped to 0.8 fish per angler, with an even larger chinook disparity.
“It was mostly chinook, with a ratio of about five kings to one coho,” Beeghley said.
“A couple of kings from Neah Bay have been 20 pounds-plus but most seen at either location are in the 8-to-10 pound range.”
She mentioned a large plankton bloom stretching from Neah Bay to at least as far south as Westport as prime feeding territory for these fish.
“Right now, both species are out there fattening up for the spawning journey,” Beeghley said.
“They can each gain about a pound a week as the season goes on.”
Beeghley offered a tip for anglers off of Neah Bay.
“Anglers in Neah Bay are not finding the coho in the plankton bloom itself,” Beeghley said.
Area angler Pete Rosko checked in with an update on Lake Sutherland.
“The conditions there have changed since my report two weeks ago,” Rosko said.
“The large concentrations [of kokanee] on the eastern end of the lake have moved and are scattered and in small schools no larger than six fish.
“Once you locate them, vertical jigging is the most effective presentation on calm days.”
Rosko said Sonic BaitFish remains a top bait for these fish.
He also cautioned about weekend fishing.
“Remember, heavy boat and jet ski traffic almost always turns the bite off,” Rosko said.
“Avoid weekends on Lake Sutherland if you are a serious angler.”
Ron Link, a former fishing guide and commercial angler who has instructed fishing classes at Peninsula College since 1999, has two upcoming classes.
First, Fly Fishing for Ladies, a beginners course that is targeted at women but welcomes men, is set for a two-hour class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 9 and a noon to 3 p.m. field trip on Aug. 2.
Cost is $93.50.
Fishing the Peninsula, course that intends to help those new to the area become more familiar with the variety of fishing opportunities available here, is set for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8-9.
The course consists of a three-hour classroom session from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. that Friday, followed by a fishing excursion on Saturday.
Cost is $76.50.
To register for either class, phone 360-452-9277 or visit pencol.edu.
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Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: June 26. 2014 11:53PM