OUTDOORS: King bite picks up along Strait, but so does the wind and waves

AFTER A LULL over the weekend, the hatchery chinook bite picked up Tuesday and Wednesday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off Sekiu and Port Angeles.

Sekiu had the most anglers and fared the best in Wednesday’s fishing with fish checkers at Mason’s Olson Resort counting 39 hatchery kings (0.64 chinook per angler average), four hatchery coho, 12 pinks and a sockeye caught by 61 anglers. Over at Van Riper’s, 19 anglers landed 11 chinook (0.58 chinook per angler) plus a silver and three pinks.

Ediz Hook checkers counted nine kings while interviewing 14 anglers Wednesday.

With the jet stream parked right over the top of us Thursday, blustery winds were a negative factor for anglers from the ocean through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The winds really were something else at the jet stream level, especially out at the Quillayute Airport near Forks. A weather balloon launch Thursday morning recorded 141 knots (161 miles per hour) at 35,000 feet — the highest ever recorded between April and September at that weather station.

Steady winds are again in the forecast today, but anglers should have a calmer time on the water for the rest of the weekend.

Ocean update

A large uptick in hatchery coho catches off Neah Bay were recorded in state Department of Fish and Wildlife catch estimates for July 8-14. A total of 1,999 anglers are estimated to have caught 841 chinook and 1,503 coho.

That accounts for 75 percent of the chinook guideline with the state using the remainder to account for king “hooking mortality” while extending the hatchery coho season.

King retention closed at midnight Sunday in Marine Area 4.

The state estimates a total of 2,663 hatchery coho out of the 16,600 hatchery coho quota (16 percent) has been landed as of Sunday.

The per rod average for Neah Bay was 0.42 chinook, 0.75 hatchery coho and 1.2 overall.

La Push saw a little more pressure July 8-14 with 130 anglers estimated to have caught 63 chinook and 76 hatchery coho.

That puts La Push at 15 percent of the area chinook guideline (166 of 1,100) and 2 percent of the 4,050 hatchery chinook guideline (95 of 4,050) through Sunday.

La Push’s per rod average was 0.48 kings, 0.58 coho and 1.08 overall.

Time for tuna?

The right water conditions are aligning for albacore tuna fishing off the Pacific Coast, according to Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co.

“I haven’t heard a word about the tuna yet but the conditions all the way from Northern California to Vancouver Island are about as perfect as they can be to bring the albacore right up to the beach,” Norden said.

“The last time this happened years ago, the tuna were less than 2 miles off the Northern Oregon Coast and anglers in 12-foot kicker boats were catching them.

Norden said water temperatures measured by buoys off the coast of Washington are measuring 62 degrees or more and temperatures are over 60 degrees off La Push.

“The Straits and off Neah Bay for a few miles are still too cold for tuna,” Norden said.

“This is, off course, bad news for salmon because this warm water wrecks the plankton food chain temporarily.”

Anglers fishing Marine Area 3 may even spot some sharks.

“Anglers headed for La Push this weekend should not be too surprised to see blue sharks only a couple miles out as well as the occasional tuna chasing food,” Norden said.

Norden thinks more typical weather conditions are likely to return next week.

“The long range weather forecast seems to show more normal conditions for next week,” he said.

“For the record, this is not an El Nino, just our strange wet weather pattern the last couple weeks.”

Area 6 Shrimping

Marine Area 6 (excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District) is open seven days a week for shrimp harvest.

Additionally, the daily limit in Marine Area 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) is now 120 shrimp per person.

Additional opportunity for harvest is being added to take the target share of spot shrimp in this area.

Some marine areas including 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, and 6 (outside the Discovery Bay Shrimp District) remain open for spot shrimp fishing 7 days per week.

Canal shrimping

Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) shrimpers have not reached the “target share” of the area’s spot shrimp quota, and the Canal will re-open for two more days of recreational shrimping.

Hood Canal will re-open for harvest of all shrimp species from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, July 23-24.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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