ARLINGTON ANGLER JOHN Nunnally reeled in the fish of the week, a jumbo-sized 30-plus pound chinook, while trolling Skagway near Cape Flattery off Neah Bay with his cousin Chad Huffman of Camano Island last Saturday.
Nunnally was thrilled with the catch, the biggest fish he’s ever brought aboard.
“One of the best days of my life,” Nunnally said. “[I’ve] been fishing since I was 2 years old, just turned 49 in July, and this was a high point.”
Nunnally was rigged up with a longer leader, a 3.5-inch Goldstar Kingfisher spoon and a Gibbs Highliner Guide Series Flasher in the No Bananas UV color scheme.
I was using a longer leader with a Kingfisher Nasty Boy spoon, a 3.5. That’s a red-black-and-white setup,” Nunnally said.
“We were probably in about 100 feet of water and at about 80 feet on the downrigger cable.”
Nunnally estimated it took about 15 minutes to bring the king aboard in a scene that brought the film Jaws to Nunnally’s mind.
“It took off the clip and stripped line,” Nunnally said. “It came to the top of the water about 50 yards from the boat and then made a run on top of the water directly at the boat. It looked like the scene from Jaws when he was towing the barrels.”
Nunnally was hard pressed to keep up with the king as it swam past the boat.
“It passed the boat still on top of the water towing the flasher behind,” Nunnally said. “I couldn’t reel fast enough to keep up. I finally got the line tight and he started stripping more line, and we had to chase him with the boat so he wouldn’t spool me [taking all the line].”
Nunnally and Huffman were on pins and needles getting the fish to the boat.
“Scary moment all the way to the net, it barely fit into it with the barbless hook,” Nunnally said. “The fish hit the deck of the boat and the high-fives and adrenaline screams begain.”
After wrapping up the day on the water, the pair boated back to Mason’s Resort at Sekiu and weighed the fish in at 31.7 pounds.
“The looks on people’s faces as I brought in the fish up the dock were priceless,” Nunnally said.
And the color of the fish’s flesh was a beautiful bright orange.
Nunnally said he has been out with Huffman, an avid angler and the “fish magnet,” at least four or five times this season.
“He takes us out all the time. Chris is out there pretty much every weekend.”
That’s a heavy financial commitment when the longer haul from Sekiu to Neah Bay increases the amount of fuel a boat requires.
Thanks for supporting the North Olympic Peninsula economy, folks.
Slow going in Marine Area 9?
Hatchery chinook fishing has been super slow in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) with chinook/per angler totals running near 0 in recreational fish sampling conducted at various locations.
Fish and Wildlife checkers recorded a harvest estimage of 1,702 hatchery kings the week of July 20-26 as 9,258 anglers kept 695 hatchery kings and released 1,834 hatchery and 532 unmarked chinook.
That put Marine Area 9 at just 26 percent of its 6,542-hatchery king catch quota with the fishery continuing through Aug. 15.
“We are seeing that in most of our central-sound fisheries,” Puget Sound Recreational Salmon Manager Mark Baltzell said.
“We are seeing lower catch-per-unit of effort, or catch per angler. These are much lower rates than we have seen in the last six to eight years. “It’s something we are keeping an eye on. It’s entirely possible we didn’t get the preseason forecast right. We have to be mindful if those runs are coming back in lesser numbers, but we don’t have anything [early closures] planned.”
Baltzell said the situation is being researched.
“The marine area fisheries are one of our first indicators for run size,” Baltzell said. “I don’t think we are pushing a panic button on the fishery, but we did have a call with our sport fishing advisors and we are attempting to understand what the fishery is doing and evaluating. We look at a lot of factors, the Lake Washington runs going through the Ballard Locks, a Muckleshoot tribal test fishery in Elliott Bay for fish going up the Green River. And other indicators we are looking at, those signs seem to be pretty normal.”
Neah Bay info
Neah Bay will switch to chinook retention west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line on Saturday.
Marine Area 4 is at 30 percent of the area’s chinook guideline and 64 percent of the coho subquota through last Sunday.
Baltzell said preseason coho estimates also may have been off.
“The Columbia River coho forecast was really down this year and that forecast really drives ocean fisheries,” Baltzell said. “There have been more coho around [than expected] and Neah Bay is pretty similar. The difference is the Columbia River coho catches have stayed pretty strong while Neah Bay’s have tailed off a bit over the last couple of weeks. That allows the season to continue on for a longer amount of time.
If chinook are caught off Neah Bay, they can be transported back to launch locations in Marine Area 5, but anglers can’t wet their lines in Marine Area 5 with that king, or any other fish that is not legal to harvest in that area, aboard their boats. This must-come-ashore transportation rule goes for every marine area in the state.
Hatchery chinook retention in Marine Area 5 ended Thursday, but silvers are always a good fight off Sekiu.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].