THE SILVER FLASH of sunlight glinting off salmon swimming close to the surface and the ensuing electrical charge that courses through an angler as they prepare to bring aboard a potential keeper — that’s a thrill that may not be cheap, but is worth the chase.
And the chase is on as the summer hatchery salmon season opens today in the waters off Sekiu (Marine Area 5) and Port Angeles (Marine Area 6).
The mark-selective, hatchery chinook fishery in Marine Area 6 west of a true north/south line through the No. 2 buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook off Port Angeles allows anglers to keep a daily limit of two salmon while releasing any chum, wild coho or wild chinook. The minimum size for hatchery chinook retention is 22 inches, while other salmon species (hatchery coho) have no size restrictions.
Kings will be highly sought after by those trolling from east to west down to the stacks near the McKinley Paper Co. mill off Ediz Hook in Port Angeles.
Many trolling anglers will use 3.5 and 4.0 size spoons in popular color patterns such as green/glow, Army truck and cop car. And a popular setup is fishing these with a 36- to 44-inch leader behind a flasher in colors such as green/glow, red/glow or purple haze.
Silver Horde or Coyote Spoons from Luhr Jensen are popular and productive options.
Flashers offer vibration, flash and sound to further attract salmon to your spoon.
The waters west of Freshwater Bay offer another solid spot along the edges of the kelp line, fishing with 1-ounce jigs like an all-glow Kandlefish or a Point Wilson Dart a good technique to start out with about 10 feet from the bottom in depths ranging from 18 to 40 feet.
Just remember that the waters of Freshwater Bay south of a line from Angeles Point westerly approximately 4 miles to Observatory Point (Bachelor Rock) are closed to fishing for all species.
There’s a lot of kelp here, so expect some entanglements.
The area includes fishing spots like the Big Eddy, which pulls in fish on the incoming tide; Pineapple Rock, a sea stack resembling the tropical fruit; and Madrona Point, named for the large madrona tree jutting from the cliff.
Mooching has lost popularity due to the rise in trolling downriggers, but it’s another productive technique that involves banana sinkers and 5- to-6 foot leaders baited with cut-plug herring.
Most moochers drift with the tide, but motor mooching, taking the motor in and out of gear to manufacture a measured rise and fall of the bait, can be utilized in slower-moving currents.
Typically, mooching means drifting with the tidal currents, but can include motor mooching, which involves taking the motor in and out of gear to cause a gradual rise and fall of the bait usually amidst much slower currents.
Anglers can still catch hatchery coho or sockeye in the chinook release area east of the No. 2 Buoy off Ediz Hook, but all chinook, chum and wild coho must be released.
Port Angeles Harbor, Dungeness Bay, Sequim Bay and Discovery Bay are all currently closed to salmon retention.
These rules will guide salmon fishing in Marine Area 6 through Aug. 15.
Marine Area 5
The same techniques work well off of Sekiu at popular chinook locations like the Caves near Sekiu Point and Slip Point at the far eastern edge of Clallam Bay.
Anglers can keep a daily limit of two salmon, but must release chum, wild coho and wild kings.
The minimum size for hatchery chinook retention is 22 inches.
Marine Area 4
The daily salmon limit has increased to two in the waters of Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay).
Chinook must be a minimum length of 24 inches, while hatchery coho must be at least 16 inches.
Today also marks the first day of the 2020-21 fishing season with updated rules and regulations available at www.eregulations.com/washington/fishing/. Please consult these rules and regulations before heading out to fish.
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I’m looking to beef up the Outdoors column with more big fish photos and stories. If you have caught a nice fish, have an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique, send it my way to [email protected] and please include your phone number.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].