OUTDOORS: These squid are no Kraken, but match the hatch for a king catch

ON THE DAY Seattle’s new hockey franchise chose a Kraken, a most-likely fictional, giant squid-like creature as its new team name, some expert anglers weighed in with reports of large amounts of small squid in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, specifically off Port Angeles.

Coincidence? Of course. But I was impressed by the color scheme and uniforms, so I’ll go along with the silly name.

Jerry Wright of Jerry’s Bait and Tackle (360-460-4171) in Port Angeles had just finished setting up some anglers with the rigging he is suggesting for king anglers trolling amid all these tiny squids.

“I have tiny little B2 Squid [pink hoochies] with tiny little Silver Horde Ace Hi-Fly’s [in green double glow] on them,” Wright said.

“I’ve been telling guys to run them from 32 to 36 inches back behind the flasher. You want a fairly short leader so you can get the B2 to swim around and attract attention. Run too long a leader, your flasher is down there working, but the lure is too far away and not giving the squid any action. Use heavier-pound test [line], 40-to 50-pound. When you use squids or any of the rubber lures, always get a stiffer line and shorten the leader then you get it darting around down there. Some folks might disagree, but I’ve seen it work well and I stick to what works.”

Wright said a similar squid bait situation from a few years back jogged memories of some great king fishing.

“One year I remember their guts were full of squid and we just crushed them with those things,” Wright said of the B2s.

Negative tides have had an impact on catches over the last week, but better tides are ahead.

“We’ve seen this before,” Wright said. “When we get the big minus tides there’s a lot of current action near the shoreline and kings will migrate out to the deeper water to get away from the current. In years past they would come back to the spots people are accustomed to fishing. This year, there’s so much bait out there, they don’t have to come back. They can avoid the current and put a bunch of baby squid in their bellies, which is what we are seeing when they are gutted. Fishermen are going to have to adapt to have good results.”

Wright said find deeper water, in the 200- to 300-foot range.

“Start fishing at 90-feet, then drop to 125 if they don’t get anything and then try 150. I haven’t heard anything deeper than 150, but that’s pretty deep, especially for fishing kings around here. People can’t fathom them being kings out there.”

Wright said the B2’s can be injected with scent to make the presentation even more enticing.

A second opinion

Avid angler and lure designer Pete Rosko fished off Port Angeles on Tuesday and encountered plenty of bait.

“The large ‘baitfish’ schools, with large salmon hooks in their midst as demonstrated on my friend’s color fish finder, were not bait fish but small squid. Why bite on anything else when the salmon can gorge on its plentiful and stationary high priority food source?”

Rosko, suggests using a small 1/4 or 1/3-ounce bio-luminescent glow white Kandlefish while spin casting to hook up with kings, a technique he and his neighbor Al Brown had particular success last summer while fishing the kelp line near Freshwater Bay in 25 feet of water.

“The glow Kandlefish is a unique finish that I have not seen elsewhere. Its colors vary from a whitish glow to a greenish and blueish hue like a live squid,” Rosko said. “By casting, or jigging it, then working it in a finesse jigging or twitching rod motion, the natural action of a live squid is fairly duplicated.

“These three factors tell me that one of the reasons why the salmon catching is so poor this season is that the salmon are keying on a tremendous hatch of squid, about the size of the 1/4 to 1/3-ounce Kandlefish (2 inches in length). As a result, large jigs, fast drifts or trolling with fast horizontal movement do not represent the correct lure size, or action, to trigger a salmon strike.”

Where anglers stand

Sekiu (Marine Area 5) is coming close to its chinook guideline, with state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates putting the total, legal-size encounter numbers at 5,962 hatchery kings out of a 7,032-chinook guideline (85 percent) while Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) is past the halfway point (56 percent through Monday) in its 2,760 coho quota.

If possible, it would be great if anglers seeking kings out west could fish Area 4, while those looking for silvers hang out in Area 5.

That way, the fishing season can go on as long as possible for kings off Sekiu and silvers off Neah Bay.

Brandon Mason of Mason’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu said bait has shifted from candlefish.

“We are seeing krill sometimes, the candlefish are few and far between,” Mason said. “Hoochies have really started picking up. Green spatterback and Army truck and white are probably the top three colors producing fish out of the hoochies.”

Mason said king fishing remained solid along the inside of Marine Area 4 between the green can near Waadah Island and Mushroom Rock. Charter boats have reported many silvers at Swiftsure Bank, but aren’t targeting that area in order to keep the Neah Bay silver season going for as long as possible.

Area 9 slow

Overall, Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) was slow going during last weekend’s salmon opener.

The state harvest estimate is 954 hatchery kings for July 16-19, which is 15 percent of a catch quota of 6,542. The fishery saw 4,508 boats with 10,617 anglers.

Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend was one of the better spots, and many anglers have suggested switching to smaller 2.0 to 3.0 size spoons to match the smaller-sized herring bait found nearby.

Spot shrimp closed

Fish and Wildlife will not reopen Hood Canal on Tuesday for the final scheduled day of spot shrimp fishing as the recreational catch quota has been met.

Recreational shrimpers enjoyed five days of highly successful shrimping on Hood Canal this season.

“This action is required to remain within catch limits and to preserve population numbers for future fishing opportunities,” said Katelyn Bosley, Puget Sound crustacean biologist.

“Shrimpers were very successful this year in Hood Canal, harvesting the quota in just five days of fishing,” said Bosley. “The number of harvesters catching full limits in Hood Canal increased from 43 percent in 2019 to 68 percent this year.”

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].

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