When the weather cooperates and that has been just a few window of opportunities each week, catches on the salmon fishing scene in marine areas has been fair at best in San Juan Islands, and to a lesser degree in northern Puget Sound and east side of Whidbey Island.
The Roche Harbor Salmon Classic saw 100 boats with 345 anglers caught 53 fish last Friday and 39 fish on Saturday.
“Go figure, but before the derby (on Jan. 21) we fished around Waldron Island, and found some big ones (up to 18 pounds), and then we went back the next day and the fish were gone,” said Derek Floyd, owner of Anglers Choice Fishing Charters in Anacortes. “We were excited and kept it quiet, but then we fished it on Friday (Jan. 22) and it never developed. This just shows how fast these fish move, and they’re here today, gone tomorrow.”
Despite that theory Floyd’s boat ended up catching the most total weight of fish in the derby with 48.9 pounds (six hatchery chinook) worth $2,000. His fishing partners were Scott Bumstead, Lance Husby and Kyle Reep of Stanwood.
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“We hooked nine fish and landed six, but I know a lot of other good anglers who struggled and got nothing for the two days of the derby,” Floyd said.
Duke Fisher of Burlington took home the grand prize of $10,000 with a 17.12 pound hatchery chinook he caught in front of the Lopez Island ferry channel. Second place went to Pete Nelsen of Shaw Island with a 17.2 pound fish he caught in Wasp Pass. Third was Blake Stiller of Anacortes with a 16.6 pound hatchery chinook from Spring Pass.
The derby was limited to a fishing area around the inner-islands only, and Floyd got a report that 10 boats Saturday around Parker Reef and north side Orcas or Rosario Pass landed 25 fish.
Other island destinations worth a try are Tide Point, Obstruction Pass, Point Lawrence and Thatcher Pass. The outer banks like Salmon, McArthur and Hein have been good, but aren’t good places to be in the winter if the winds kick up.
Elsewhere, the winter chinook fisheries just aren’t producing any stellar action, but some of that can be blamed on the lousy weather and rough water conditions.
A few fish have been caught Possession Bar; along the shoreline at Eglon and Pilot Point off the east side of the Kitsap Peninsula; Double Bluff on south side of Whidbey Island; and Point No Point. It remains pitifully slow at Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend.
Remember the key to winter salmon action if finding the baitfish. If you don’t mark much on the fish finder than it might be wise to move around until you do.
The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby is Feb. 19-21 in eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. Cost is $40 by Feb. 17. Last year a record catch of 292 hatchery chinook were weighed-in that were six pounds or larger. Details: www.GardinerSalmonDerby.org/ or http://northwestsalmonderbyseries.com.
The salmon fishery remains open daily through April 10 in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca around Port Angeles. The western Strait at Sekiu reopens for salmon on Feb. 15 to April 30.
The salmon fishery along the east side of Whidbey Island (Areas 8-1 and 8-2) – open daily through April 30 – has been relatively slow peppered with some glory moments for anglers off Hat Island, Baby Island, Elger Bay, Columbia Beach and Holmes Harbor.
South-central Puget Sound (Area 11) and Hood Canal (12) will reopen for salmon fishing on Monday (Feb. 1) to April 30; and southern Puget Sound is currently open daily.