The door on salmon fishing options opens even wider next month with plenty of decent places to hook into some fish.

The ocean salmon fishery is still topping the news with anglers catching fairly easy limits of kings and hatchery coho from Neah Bay to Ilwaco.

“We saw a 1.3 salmon per person average this week at Ilwaco and most of the catch is still coho, but chinook fishing picked up Monday and Tuesday,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. “We’ve seen heavy fog in the morning, and a wind chop has made the water pretty lumpy.”

At Westport, anglers averaged 1.4 fish per rod with a ratio of three-to-one hatchery coho to kings, and boats are traveling about 25 miles from port to find fish. In La Push, it was 1.0 fish per rod, and two coho for every king caught.

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On the northern coast at Neah Bay, it was 1.0 fish per rod, and the king action improved mainly at Swiftsure Bank with about one king for every six coho.

A huge 1.6 million kings and 1.2 million coho heading up the Columbia River will create some unheralded action in the weeks ahead with the popular Buoy-10 fishery at the river’s mouth opening Friday.

Usually areas from Buoy-10 up to the Astoria-Megler Bridge peak by the third week of August, but they should be good right out of the starting gate. Target big incoming tides when the fish are flushed in from the ocean.

In central Washington, the sockeye fishing has been stellar at Lake Wenatchee and in the Upper Columbia near Brewster where some summer kings have also started to appear in the catch along with sockeye.

Inner-marine salmon fisheries a head scratcher

The hatchery king fishery in northern and central Puget Sound, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Sekiu and Port Angeles all remain spotty.

“It is pretty slow in Areas 9 and 10 (northern and central Puget Sound), and as of now we just don’t have an explanation why they aren’t showing up,” said Mark Baltzell, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

In northern Puget Sound an estimated is 1,482 hatchery kings were caught from July 16 through Sunday under a harvest quota of 3,218 or 46 percent of the harvest quota.

In central Puget Sound it has been even slower with a catch estimate of 371 hatchery kings under a harvest quota of 1,112, which puts that fishery threshold at 32 percent.

“In Area 9 we’re 32 percent behind the average catch of what we’ve seen in the past seven years, and in Area 10 we’re about 44 percent behind,” Baltzell said.

The state Fish and Wildlife test fishing boat in Area 9 has caught just 16 legal-size kings and two sun-legal fish from July 16 through Sunday with a mark rate (hatchery fish with a missing adipose fin) of 80 percent. The Area 10 test fishing boat had six legal-size hatchery kings and three sub-legal fish.

Now with that said some anglers have been quietly finding fair to good success for kings at Point No Point, Pilot Point, Jefferson Head and Kingston.

Hatchery kings are a virtual no show in the Strait, but fish checks this past weekend showed a spike in hatchery coho fishing success.

“Those little hatchery coho showed up off Sekiu, but the chinook just aren’t there like they should be, and not much is happening at Port Angeles,” said Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife checker in the Strait.

On Sunday a check from Olson’s Resort in Sekiu showed 62 boats with 148 anglers caught 13 hatchery kings and 126 hatchery coho. Most of the coho landed at Sekiu are likely South Puget Sound net-pen resident coho averaging 3 to 4 pounds.

Freshwater Bay and Port Angeles off Ediz Hook did produce a few hatchery kings in the 15-17 pound range.

Fishing Report
Location  Comment
Marine areas Good success for tuna about 35 miles off Westport and Ilwaco. Slow to fair for kings in the San Juan Islands. Crab fishing is fair to good in many open areas of Puget Sound and northern Hood Canal. A few hatchery kings caught off the Edmonds Pier. Slow for hatchery kings off the Clay Banks at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Point Dalco on Vashon Island, Point Robinson, Southworth and Gig Harbor.
Biting: YesRating: ★★★  
Statewide rivers Boat anglers on Cowlitz averaged almost one hatchery steelhead per rod at Blue Creek and Mission Bar, and bank anglers below barrier dam averaged more than one spring chinook jack per rod. Fair for steelhead at the Lewis mouth. Good at Drano Lake for steelhead, but most were wild fish that need to be released. The Skykomish River is slow to fair for steelhead at Reiter Ponds, and a stretch from Monroe to Wallace River is open for hatchery kings through Thursday.
Biting: YesRating: ★★★  
Statewide lakes Slow to fair for sockeye at Baker Lake. Mineral Lake in Lewis County was planted on July 23 with 813 brown trout. Lake Merwin in Cowlitz County was planted on July 14 with rainbow trout. Black Lake in Chelan County was planted July 7 with 4,831 trout. Fair for kokanee at Stevens, American and Meridian lakes. Fair for trout at Deer, Green, Desire and Gissburg. Good at Potholes Reservoir for walleye, bass, carp and trout. Lake Chelan is fairly good for lake trout. Fair to good for cutthroat trout, and very good for perch and bass in Lake Washington.
Biting: YesRating: ★★★  

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com