A TRIO OF experienced anglers sent the Neah Bay salmon season out with a bang this week.
Unfortunately, today is the final day for all salmon retention in Marine Area 4 as the area is expected to bump up against it’s 2,760-coho quota. More information on the reasoning behind that decision can be found later on in this column.
The trio of Snohomish-area anglers, Larry Surdyk, his son Mike Surdyk and Mike’s cousin Tony Petosa, proved that you don’t have to go on a long haul to bring aboard kings.
Mike Surdyk spoke while the group continued king fishing south of Neah Bay on Thursday.
All three anglers had reached their king limit over the last few days.
“Three guys on the boat and we got all six of our fish and played another six or eight more,” Surdyk said.
“The quality of the fish is really nice. Without a doubt, this is the best fishing we have had in the last five or 10 years.
“We are still doing it right now, we are fishing the beach real tight in Makah Bay south of Tatoosh Island. We are fishing in about 20- to 30-feet of water right near the mouth of the Tsoo-Yess River. We are right off Hobuck Beach and can see the cabins.”
Surdyk said the fish they caught were all kings and he believes many of them are looking to move upriver to spawn.
“Some of them are staging to go up the river, but the big fish we got [Wednesday] was chrome bright,” Surdyk said.
Surdyk’s group chooses the now old-fashioned, but still successful, method of fishing with cut-plug herring.
“Blue and purple-label cut-plug herring,” Surdyk said. “And one rod with whole green label herring in a teaser headed by itself or with a flasher. We are not super conventional. We use these big, long reels, these Canadian knucklebusters. It looks like a big fly reel, a big mooching reel. They are great for mooching and trolling in shallow water.”
With these mooching reels, the angler controls the amount of line a fish takes by palming the rim of the reel with the cup of their hand.
Imagine the excitement (and potentially skinned knuckles) if a 20-plus-pound king takes the bait and you take your hand from the spool to the rod’s knobs.
Surdyk’s dad caught the fish of the day Wednesday, a 30-plus-pound king.
“A huge fight, man,” Surdyk said. “Just on a straight cut-plug herring. From about 100 yards out it just came ripping across the surface. We had to chase it, get the boat pointed into the swell. It came at the boat, flashed at us a couple of times and we knew it was a big boy. We were finally able to put the wood to him and get him over the rail.”
Their group wasn’t the only ones to find success close to land.
“We have another boat right here with us and they already have two over 20 pounds this morning,” Surdyk said.
And his crew was planning on a morning salmon bite followed by a trip out to the Prairie to go after halibut before returning for the evening salmon bite.
“We come out to fish for big fish with big reels along the beach,” Surdyk said.
His family has a piece of property near Ray’s Grocery, about halfway between Neah Bay and Sekiu.
“My dad has been fishing out here since the late 1970s,” Surdyk said.
Marine 4 move
With La Push and Quileute tribal lands closed to non-residents, and the king and hatchery coho salmon fisheries seeing little effort this season, I asked Fish and Wildlife Ocean Salmon Manager Wendy Beeghley if transferring the La Push coho quota to Neah Bay was discussed.
“There was a lot of discussion about that and ultimately it was our ocean advisers that decided there would be no formal transfer,” Beeghley said.
“Remember, we only have 690 coho. It could have gotten through the weekend, but that’s a very small number of fish. Coho catches have been gaining steam, starting on Sunday we saw much better catch-per-angler rates.
“With halibut open, we weren’t sure how much effort that would draw away from salmon fishing. Go over the quota and it will end up coming out of some other area, likely La Push. If catch rates stayed up and salmon effort is increased because halibut also is open, the risk of exceeding the Neah Bay and La Push quotas was high.”
Beeghley said the advisers decided to allow Marine Area 3 the chance to offer some days later, potentially in September.
“The other thing the advisers were considering is we don’t know if La Push will open in September sometime,” Beeghley said. “La Push has lost their bubble fishery [an early-fall coho fishery typically held in October] and have really been impacted.”
There has been speculation that Marine Area 2 (Westport)-associated advisers pushed for La Push to keep its coho quota with eyes on Marine Area 3-bound trips coming out of Westport.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Westport, with its larger charter fleet and closer relationship in terms of geography and politics to Olympia, has been given preference in access to recreational fishery remainders.
Two kings off PT
Anglers fishing in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) can keep two chinook as part of the daily limit today through Saturday, Aug. 15. Area 9 will remain open for hatchery coho beginning Aug. 16.
Area 9 catch estimates showed only 2,406 of the area’s catch quota of 6,542 kings (37 percent) had been caught through last Sunday.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at [email protected].