THE FINAL WEEKS of the summer saltwater salmon season have been productive, particularly for silver-seeking anglers in the coho capital of Sekiu.
Silvers have been pouring in for the last couple of weeks in strong numbers, according to Mason’s Resort (360-963-2311) owner Brandon Mason.
State creel reports show coho catch totals began to climb Sept. 10 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and many areas in Puget Sound.
Tuesday was the best day of the bunch off Sekiu with a total of 269 coho officially checked in by 224 anglers.
And that doesn’t reflect how many wild coho are in the mix as anglers wade through the wild stock to find keepable hatchery fish.
“Some guys are saying it takes six to 10 wilds to find a hatchery,” Mason said. “Others, they get through and get hatchery fish right off the bat.
“The average size is about eight pounds, and we have seen some real good ones in the double-digit range up to 13 or 14 pounds. There are a lot of nice, fat coho out here and plenty of action on the line with all the wilds.”
Mason said the majority of the coho are out in deeper water.
“They are all around, but most of them are still out there in the shipping lanes,” Mason said. “Start fishing in 200 feet of water and then troll out to the deeper water. There’s been sporadic catches in closer. And coho fishing depends a lot on the weather. When it’s sunny and clear, fish 75 feet to 125 feet on the wire in 400-plus feet of water. On foggy, cloudy or these smoky days, they’ve been catching them down at 50 feet.”
Mason said air quality has improved out west with rain and some wind cleaning things up if not exactly clearing things out.
“It’s not so much smoky anymore as it is foggy, kind of a mixture of each,” Mason said. “Sometimes it pushes east where you can see for more than a mile, other times it bunches in. You don’t really smell smoke anymore and the sky hasn’t had that grey-orange tint to it. It’s more white like a cloud.”
Air quality had returned to moderate levels in Port Angeles by Thursday morning, and clearing is expected to continue into Saturday — perfect time for a weekend fishing trip.
Halibut extension likely
Mason represents Sekiu and Marine Area 5 on the Puget Sound Sport Fishing Advisory Group and also gets the first word on halibut.
He expects three additional halibut dates to be approved by fisheries managers soon.
“I’m waiting for the state to announce an add-on of three halibut fishing dates from Sept. 27-29,” Mason said. “That would provide six halibut fishing days in a row. Halibut already is scheduled for Sept. 24-26, so hopefully that would take the quota down to zero. And that would be the end of it [halibut fishing for 2020], the night of the 29th.”
Mason said having additional halibut dates added to the late summer schedule was a blessing for his operation and surrounding businesses.
“We’ve kind of liked it,” Mason said. “It helped us when they shut us down early for chinook fishing. It would have been a ghost town, and halibut saved our butts. It made for a pleasant transition from kings to coho for all the businesses out here in Sekiu.”
The 2020 International Coastal Cleanup is set Saturday, with the annual cleanup taking on a different look during the pandemic.
Volunteers will be asked to follow all COVID-19 guidelines set out by the state Department of Health, and many beaches are closed.
Washington CoastSavers is urging people to clean up beaches close to home.
All beaches in Olympic National Park and on the NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary as well as those on the tribal lands of the Makah, Quinault, Quileute and Hoh are closed to cleanup crews to protect the health of coastal communities.
About 15 beaches on the North Olympic Peninsula are available for volunteer cleanup.
To register, and for more information, go to coastsavers.org.
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center will participate between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Volunteers will gather at the museum entrance under the portico to get instructions, locations, trash bags and gloves before heading out to area beaches.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].