MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Pinks crashing king salmon’s party

DISASTER IS IMMINENT, my dear Peninsulites.

Either we raise the Peninsula pink salmon limit right now, or we threaten the very fabric of this summer’s saltwater fishery.

The state allows you a daily limit of four pinks. I suggest you take it.

Oh, I know what some of you must be thinking: “Matt, there’s no way I can hold on to that many pinks. You’re putting too much of a burden on us fillet creators.”

Well, as much as I hate to sound sensational, those who don’t risk ushering in angling armageddon.

If we continue down this path unchecked, with anglers tossing pinks back into the water at their convenience, it won’t be long before the humpies take this whole thing over.

Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, there’s simply too many to pick through.

Do you really want to spend half your day trying to get your gear down through swarms of pink salmon?

Is it really worth tossing all those fish back when they could have a fine home inside your cooler?

What salmon is that undesirable that it can be discarded so easily?

Raise your pink limit, my dear Peninsulites.

If not for me, then for your refrigerator.

Coastal salmon

The humpy invasion is already in full swing out on the coast.

From the deep ocean waters of Marine Area 3 (LaPush) to the western edge of the Strait in Area 4 (Neah Bay) anglers are running into swarms of pink salmon.

Luckily, there’s plenty of chinook and coho to target in both areas as well.

Those in Area 3 didn’t even have to travel all that far earlier this week.

“Tuesday and Wednesday we fished right out front [of LaPush] and were just nailing the kings,” Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in LaPush said.

“A big wad of hatchery kings came through, and yesterday it kind of dried up. I was the only one out of 15 boats that got any fish right out by the buoys there.

“I knew it was too good to last. So it looks like we’re putting the miles back on and headed back deep [for the kings].”

That’s also where anglers have been running into the humpies.

There’s been a fair amount of hatchery coho as well, but most of them are small six- to nine-pound “runts,” according to Lato.

“Once in a while you’ll get a decent [coho], but not very often,” he said.

Another king bite can be found a little north of LaPush at Swiftsure Bank, according to Joey Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay.

The pinks are also making waves from Swiftsure all the way around the northwestern tip of the Peninsula.

“There’s plenty of fish to go around, that’s for sure,” Lawrence said. “Most of the king salmon are being caught at Swiftsure [in the] 15- to 25-pound range. The fish are down about 180 feet. Most of the guys are using plugs and flashers and hoochies.

“Coho and pinks are just starting to move around a bit, starting to come up as far as Waadah Island on a flood tide. There’s plenty of those.”

One other note on the coast: Chinook retention closes after Sunday east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line in Area 4.

Also taking effect Aug. 1, anglers fishing in ocean waters off La Push and Neah Bay can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

Strait salmon

It seems only a matter of time before the pinks plan another invasion of Area 5 (Sekiu).

As it is right now, however, what was once a humpy-heavy fishery is becoming more and more kingly, Chris Mohr of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu said.

“The king fishery is keeping things very interesting, but the pink fishery has flattened out a bit and the coho fishery is dead,” said Mohr, referencing a fish count that had 40 boats with 67 kings.

“We’re just happy to have kings, because that’s what everybody is here to fish for.”

As is almost always the case out in Sekiu, it’s been an early morning and late afternoon bite on the chinook.

And while things have slowed down on the pinks, reports of humpy hysteria in nearby ocean fisheries suggest that’s only temporary.

“I think part of it is we’re right in the middle of some real big minus tides,” Mohr said. “I’m thinking once we get out of these minus tides we’re going to see them.

“They are telling me there are pinks galore out there [in the ocean], so my gut tells me it might be a tidal problem, but we’ll see.”

The pinks that left the waters around Slip Point certainly made their presence known in Area 6 (eastern Strait).

After seeing only a few humpies during the first few weeks of the summer salmon fishery around Port Angeles, the numbers shot up last weekend.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles picked through a few of them himself.

“They really just showed up here in Port Angeles where we were fishing kings on Sunday,” Aunspach said.

“And that’s what everybody is telling me down in Freshwater Bay. They are really battling to get through the pinks [to fish kings].”

Aunspach himself has had quite the year fishing for kings off Ediz Hook and near the Flats. In three weeks time he’s accumulated more than 180 pounds of fillets.

Those aren’t the only places spitting out kings, however.

“It hit kind of a little bit of a lull there, but they have caught some nice fish over the last few days for the guys who have been able to sneak out there early,” Aunspach said.

“Freshwater Bay has been putting out fish all year for the guys who have been fishing it.

“Those guys who fish it have a tendency to be real quiet, and they have been doing real well.”

Admiralty Inlet

If only the positive reports could stretch all the way east.

Unfortunately, it seems Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) is hurting for a consistent hatchery king fishery in the second week of its abbreviated season.

“It seems rather slow out there,” Port Townsend angler Wayne Bibbins said. “A lot of areas that I’ve historically fished haven’t kicked out any fish at all.

“That first week was way better than this week.

“I’ve managed to get some decent fish in the past few days. You’ve got to get out there to get them. You’ve got to get out there at first light to even have a chance.

“It’s been pretty challenging.”

There is one bit of good news to take out of Area 9.

Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said he received his first reports of silvers trickling by Marrowstone Island earlier this week.

“Nothing big yet, but they are definitely starting to show up down there,” he said. “This is just the start of it.”

Also . . .

■ Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters will host a one-day introductory fly fishing clinic this Saturday starting at 9 a.m. in its Port Angeles shop at 140 W. Front St.

The all-day class will teach the basics of fly fishing, with students eventually taking a field trip to the water for a chance to catch and release. Cost is $75.

To sign up, contact Waters West at 360-417-0937.

■ J.D. Hanson will host a free saltwater salmon fishing seminar at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More, 542 W. Washington St., in Sequim on Tuesday night.

The class, which meets from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will focus on saltwater techniques for chinook in Neah Bay and inside the Strait.

To reserve a spot in the class, call Brian’s Sporting Goods at 360-683-1950.

■ The Wapiti Bowmen Archery Club will host a 3D hunter warm-up Aug. 6-7 at its east Port Angeles headquarters at 374 E. Arnette Road.

Archers of all experience levels and ages can experience the club’s 20-acre wooded range.

There will also be a five-prize raffle, door prizes and breakfast and lunch served each day.

For more information, contact Peter Joers at 360-461-9640 or Mark Jackson at 360-683-7787.

■ Greenland national kayaking champion Helen Wilson will give a special presentation Saturday at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. 7th St., in Port Angeles.

The presentation, set for 7-9 p.m., will examine modern kayaking and how ancient skills are becoming increasingly popular. Admission is $5.

■ Peninsula fly fishing author Doug Rose will discus fly fishing for surf perch at the Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers monthly meeting Monday night.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Campfire USA Club House, 619 E. Fourth St., in Port Angeles.

■ The East Jefferson Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers will hold its monthly meeting Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina in Port Townsend.

Details on the guest speaker were unavailable.

■ The Quilcene Antler Show is looking for youth hunters and elk buglers to participate in this year’s event at the Quilcene School gymnasium on Sept. 17-18.

Show organizers are asking for young hunters to bring in their mounts Sept. 16, between 3-6 p.m. or Sept. 17, between 8-11 a.m.

Youth exhibitors will receive awards and a gift packet.

There will also be a new elk calling event at the show. Kids and callers can register by calling Mari Phillips at 360-765-0688.

Send photos, stories

Want your event listed in the outdoors column?

Have a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique, why not share it with our readers?

Send it to me, Matt Schubert, Sports Department, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362; phone, 360-417-3526; fax, 360-417-3521; email matt.schubert


Matt Schubert is the outdoors columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays.

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