This summer’s salmon fisheries will definitely go down as one of the most memorable in recent years.
The ocean salmon fishery is still topping the news; a record sockeye run is heading up the Columbia; and many places in between are giving way to fun action.
“At Ilwaco we’ve got great fishing with a 1.6 fish average per person, and a lot of people coming in early with limits of mostly (hatchery-marked) coho,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “Effort is starting to really pick up, and I expect it to continue this way through Labor Day.”
At Westport, anglers averaged 1.3 fish per rod with a ratio of 2-to-1 hatchery coho to kings. In La Push, it was 1.0 fish per rod, and most were kings.
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On the northern coast at Neah Bay, it was 0.5 fish per rod, but others claim it was much better of late than the actual numbers revealed.
“Fishing has been real good at Neah Bay, and the (state Fish and Wildlife) checker told us that everyone who went to Swiftsure Bank limited on kings,” said Tony Floor, the director of fishing affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
The hatchery king fishery in northern and central Puget Sound started off a bit on the sluggish side.
“The catches aren’t exciting so far this season, but that just means it will likely last a little longer,” Mark Baltzell, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist, said.
In northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9) through Sunday, it showed a catch estimate of 1,028 hatchery kings through Sunday under a harvest quota of 3,218 or 32 percent of the catch ceiling threshold.
In central Puget Sound (Area 10) it has been a little slower with a catch estimate of 203 hatchery kings under a harvest quota of 1,112, which puts that fishery threshold at about 18 percent.
The state Fish and Wildlife test fishing boat in northern Puget Sound at Midchannel Bank area near Port Townsend (an area that has been hot the past two seasons) has caught just eight kings from July 16 through Tuesday with a hatchery mark rate (fish with a missing adipose fin) of 70 percent.
The Area 10 test fishing boat hooked three hatchery kings, which is mimicking what the rest of the sport fleet has encountered since the opener. In central Washington, the sockeye fishing grounds affected by wild fires have become accessible thanks in part to cooler, wetter weather.
“Things are much improved, and I drove to Brewster (Monday), and the power is on and businesses are open,” said Dave Graybill, longtime eastside outdoor radio host.
Sockeye fishing is also going very well at Lake Wenatchee, and access to the state park where the boat launch is open.