Three marine areas up and three down as North Olympic Peninsula anglers are now down to three potential options if they’d like to keep targeting chinook.
Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) closed to chinook retention today, joining previously shuttered chinook fisheries in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca).
The most recent estimate of Marine Area 9’s chinook harvest is 4,418 (94 percent) of the total 4,700 harvest quota, so the state Department of Fish and Wildlife made the move to limit king retention to preserve silver and pink opportunities.
Anglers can keep a daily limit of two salmon with no minimum size but must release all chinook, chum and wild coho.
Unfortunately for Marine Area 6 anglers, Fish and Wildlife used legal-sized chinook “encounters” to close chinook retention as opposed to a straight harvest quota estimate.
State estimates put the legal-sized chinook encounter rate as 100 percent (6,843/6,843).
And Sekiu closed to kings last month after encounter rates reached 92 percent.
Thankfully, these three areas didn’t go the way of the San Juan Islands, which were shut down for all salmon fishing after anglers met the July chinook quota in just one week.
The three options for kings now? Neah Bay, which is at 71 percent of the chinook guideline and 19 percent of the coho quota through Aug. 1; La Push, where anglers are estimated to have caught 19 percent of the coho quota and 17 percent of the chinook guideline; and Hood Canal, where anglers fishing south of Ayock Point are allowed to keep chinook of a minimum size of 20 inches as part of a four-fish limit.
Pinks are running in greater numbers through the Strait of Juan de Fuca as the pinnacle of the run heads for home.
“The next 10 days will mark the peak of the humpy [pink] salmon run through Area 9,” Quilcene angler and tackle manufacturer Ward Norden said.
“While being the smallest of our salmon averaging about 3½ pounds and having a reputation as poorer table fare, I have found these salmon to be delicious if cleaned, bled, iced and barbecued the same day as caught.”
Pinks are an annoyance for many more serious anglers, but I like catching fish and eating them, so I’ve never turned down a chance to go out for pinks and come home with dinner. And Ward is right, the quicker from the salt to the barbecue grill the better.
And Norden recommends against freezing the species.
“I never freeze humpies because they have a type of fat that breaks down when frozen giving an ‘off’ flavor,” Norden said. “Smoking or canning without freezing also makes them good table fare.”
Pink is also important in the presentation to pinks.
“The most economical way to catch humpies is by casting off the beach with Rotator Jigs or heavy spoons with some pink coloring,” Norden said. “Pink jigs are traditionally excellent humpy catchers, but recently chartreuse and chrome jigs have also done well.
“Don’t expect too many coho to be caught at the moment. Coho ‘don’t play well together’ with hordes of humpies, so the coho will hang back for a couple weeks waiting for the humpies to move on.
“The excellent beach casting coho fishery will begin in about three weeks when it will be time to ‘throw’ more jigs in flame, chartreuse or white colors, though pink jigs work, too.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] dailynews.com.