Category Archives: Washington

Washington Trout Season 2014

Saturday April 26 2014 (yeah, that’s tomorrow!) is the official kick off to a beloved Washington pastime, it is the opening day of fishing on hundreds of Washington State lakes. There are a few brave souls that spend blistery winter days on the water, but for most folks around here fishing is a fair-weather sport, and the sunny spring days of late April and May are best spent on the shore of a local trout lake. Whether you are a self-proclaimed trout fishing expert or a complete rookie, catching fish will not be any easier than it is during the first few weeks of our local lake fishing season.

Washington State has such a great number of productive trout lakes that choosing one can be quite the task. The beauty of this great fishing opportunity is that regardless of where you live, you need not travel far to experience great fishing. Pick a local lake, one that has been stocked recently, grab some basic fishing gear, and enjoy yourself. Not only is your local lake a great place to unplug for a few hours from a hectic schedule, but also a phenomenal place to introduce friends and family to the joys of fishing. Heck, even if you yourself are still trying to figure this “fishing thing” out, what better than to share the learning experience with others. So drag the neighbor along, yank the Xbox controller out of your kid’s hands, invite a coworker, bring a positive attitude and just go fishing!

The experience of witnessing someone catch their first fish is such a thrill. And the camaraderie between the folks that share the public fishing dock on your local lake is something that isn’t experienced anywhere with average strangers in daily life.

In the next few paragraphs, I will share a few important things that a beginner might find useful. Also, if you find this interesting, feel free to sign up for email alerts (right sidebar) or like our Riptidefish.com Facebook Page for updates. Keep an eye out for other informative articles in the next few weeks.

Where to go trout fishing in Washington State

Washington State has such a great variety of fishing locations that narrowing it down to find a fishing spot can be daunting. Is it the right time of year? It that lake open for fishing? Are there actually fish in there? Is it worth the drive? There are plenty of questions that arise, just remember that there is plenty of information out there and half the fun with this whole “fishing thing” is the thrill of discovery.

In the distant past, opening day was a HUGE DEAL. There were very few trout fishing opportunities before the opener, so when the last Saturday in April came around, frenzy ensued on the shores of every public lake. Nowadays, we have been given plenty of opportunities to fish for trout year-round. Many lakes in the state are open to fishing for the entire year. Check the current fishing regulation pamphlet for the season on your favored lake. Please take note that if you don’t see your lake listed (most lakes are listed in the “Special Rules” area), then it will fall under the General Statewide Season (for lakes that means open to fishing year-round).

A little research will go a long way. Look at a map to pinpoint local lakes with public access. Check out online references such as WashingtonLakes.com (I use this one all the time). Call a local tackle shop to get the most up-to-date information; shops such as Sportco in Fife, Outdoor Emporium in Seattle, Holiday Sports in Burlington, Three Rivers Marine & Tackle in Woodinville, Bob’s Sporting Goods in Longview, Hooked on Toys in Wenatchee, and Defiance Marine & Tackle in Bremerton among others are great places to get personalized service and help with tackle and rigging.

Anyways, here are a few links that will help you on your journey…

Fish Washington
WDFW Fishing Regulations
WDFW Online Fishing License Sales

Fishing Licenses in Washington State

You will most likely need a fishing license. Washington State offers three annual licenses, Freshwater, Saltwater, Shellfish. You can also get a combination license if you prefer. There are also 1-day, 2-day and 3-day licenses. There are a variety of add-ons, but for simple lake fishing all you need is a Freshwater Fishing License. If you are really ambitious, the state offers a 2-pole endorsement that is valid on most lakes (check the regulation pamphlet to see where it is valid). Everyone that is at least 15 years old needs a fishing license. Kids under age 15 do not need a basic fishing license for trout fishing. Get your licenses at a local sporting goods shop, online at WDFW Online Fishing License Sales, or at any Fred Meyer.

Basic Trout Fishing Gear

The beauty of local trout fishing is in its simplicity. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the required gear. A basic trout fishing rod and reel setup can cost as little as $20. While I would recommend that a beginner invest slightly more on a setup, if you are on a tight budget… don’t feel like you can’t afford to go fishing. A lightweight trout rod 6’ to 7’ in length rated for anywhere from 2-8 pound test fishing line will be perfect, most are two-piece rods. I would recommend 6 pound line for beginners; going lighter than that can mean more lost tackle or lost fish, and going heavier inhibits your ability to cast a great distance. Regarding the fishing tackle and bait, that will depend on whether you plan to fish from shore or from a boat.

Basic Fishing Tackle for Shorebound Anglers

Most folks that are new to fishing will be fishing from a dock or the shore. With literally millions of trout planted in lakes across the state, fishing from shore will be a successful venture with the proper gear. The three basic techniques used are…

  1. Still Fishing with Weight & Bait
  2. Still Fishing with Bobber & Bait
  3. Casting & Retrieving Lures

Consult your local tackle shop on proper setup for these techniques, expect to find diagrams & write-ups on Riptidefish.com very soon!

Basic Fishing Tackle for Boatbound Anglers

Anyone fishing from a small boat, raft, canoe or kayak can utilize the same three techniques used by shorebound anglers. Boat anglers have a few advantages. The biggest advantage is the freedom that a boat affords, boaters can access any and all parts of the lake and get away from the crowds that line the shore on opening day. The second is the ability to slowly troll to cover water. Trolling with Small Lures or a Lure & Dodger Setup can be extremely effective.

Consult your local tackle shop on proper setup for these techniques, expect to find diagrams & write-ups on Riptidefish.com very soon!

Your Catch

While I am an avid supporter of Catch & Release when it comes to wild fish, the stocked trout in our local lakes exist so that we can enjoy a day’s fishing, but also so that we can procure a meal from time to time. Kids love bringing home a few fish, and there is a lot of pride in enjoying a family meal that you yourself catch out of local waters.

Know the daily limit before you head out to the local lake, and have a plan for your catch before you keep any fish. Did you bring a cooler with ice? Did you bring a stringer? Make sure that you act as a responsible sportsman by respecting your catch. When you keep a fish, cut or tear the gills so that the fish bleeds out (it will pull blood from the meat and offer you a better product). I like to bleed out my catch on a stringer, then transfer to a cooler. If you plan on releasing anything you catch, be aware that many fish will swallow any bait and can be possibly difficult to revive. There is actually a rule that any fish you catch with bait counts as part of your daily limit even if you release it (so catching & releasing 20 trout with bait is a big no no).

Anyways, I hope you all have a chance to head to your local lake this weekend for some great fishing! If you want any advice on a great place to go fishing, feel free to add a comment to this post and I will do my best to give you a great recommendation. Good luck out there everyone!

how-to-catch-spot-prawns

Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season 2014

Harvesting your own food is one of the great benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest. And for all of the seafood aficionados reading this, one of our region’s true delicacies is about to open for harvest. Fishing season for Spot Shrimp opens at the beginning of May. Here are the details.

Spot Shrimp in our inland marine areas are regulated on a quota system. The season is determined based on the health of the shrimp population and is split between tribal, non-tribal commercial and recreational users. Once the quota is set, potential user interest in the season is used to decide the number of days that we can fish in each marine area. Being such a sought-after shellfish, and being in such a heavily populated area where many folks enjoy boating and fishing, the seasons near Seattle, Tacoma and Everett are a mere few days.

Fish & Wildlife managers will assess the catch from the listed dates and decide whether to offer us an extended season. Get prepared early, take the day off of work, and go shrimping for a couple days!

For the full skinny from WDFW check out the OFFICIAL WDFW NEWS RELEASE

We will be launching a series of posts in the next month with tons of great information, tips & strategies that will help you catch more Spot Shrimp in Puget Sound this year!

Marine Area 8-1 Deception Pass, Saratoga Passage

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm

Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 8-2 Port Susan, Everett, Mukilteo

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 9 Admiralty Inlet, Possession Bar

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm

Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 10 Seattle & Bremerton

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 11 Tacoma & Vashon Island

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm
Saturday May 10: 7am-3pm
shrimping-for-spot-shrimp
[table caption=”Everett Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Date,Tide,Tide,Tide,Tide
May 3,2:41am 6.1’L,7:37am 9.2’H,2:20pm -0.6’L,9:42pm 10.8’H
May 7,12:11am 10.2’H,7:06am 5.2’L,11:42am 7.1’H,5:41pm 2.6L
[/table]
[table caption=”Seattle Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Date,Tide,Tide,Tide,Tide
May 3,2:42am 6.2’L,7:36am 9.5’H,2:21pm -0.6’L,9:41pm 11.1’H
May 7,12:10am 10.5’H,7:07am 5.2’L,11:41am 7.3’H,5:42pm 2.6L
[/table]
[table caption=”Tacoma Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Date,Tide,Tide,Tide,Tide
May 3,2:45am 6.2’L,7:44am 10.0’H,2:27pm -0.7’L,9:43pm 11.6’H
May 7,12:14am 11.0’H,7:03am 5.4’L,11:48am 7.8’H,5:51pm 2.6’L
May 10,2:22am 11.1’H,9:11am 2.7’L,3:21pm 9.0’H,8:48pm 4.4’L
[/table]

Seattle Washington March 2014 Fishing Report

Hello everyone! If you are reading this, then congrats… you have stumbled apon the very first in a series of monthly fishing reports that I plan on publishing. The goal of this series is to offer everyone a fresh outlook for the month ahead, share a few great opportunities, a few pointers, and get everyone excited about the fishing prospects in Seattle and the rest of the Great Pacific Northwest.

March offers the first signs of spring for us here in the Pacific Northwest, and the warmer weather and added daylight really spur many of us to break out of our winter hibernation and hit the water. With the overlap of late winter and early spring fisheries, anyone looking to wet a line will have more options than time. Regardless of how much I enjoy the sight of a just-now-caught Winter Steelhead, plans are being hatched as visions of Razor Clams, Spring Chinook, Largemouth Bass and Trout dance around in my head. We have plenty to cover, so let’s get at it!

Steelhead

Steelhead fishermen have seen a roller coaster of river conditions this season. We’ve experienced some phenomenal extremes in weather this season, but the term Deep Freeze best sums up the majority of the winter season. Although all of Puget Sound’s rivers are now closed to fishing, most would say that this season was more or less a bust. The steelhead angler that fished once and a while probably saw a few or no fish this year. The steelhead angler that devoted the past few months solely to fishing probably saw a handful of steelhead, but even the die hard guys that I have spoke with stated that the fish were few and far between. Most noticed that this year’s hatchery steelhead were very small. Enough negativity, let’s look at what really gets everyone excited…

HUGE WILD STEELHEAD.

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula has definitely been the highlight of the season. While it appears that area rivers are getting more and more acclaim, and even more busy with drift boat traffic, the size and numbers of quality steelhead keep folks coming back. Steelhead fishing on rivers the likes of the Hoh, Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Queets, and Humptulips should remain strong until these rivers close in April and May.

Fishing on the Upper Chehalis, Satsop and Wynochee has been decent. These rivers offer a great mix of both hatchery and wild Steelhead, and will offer up a great opportunity through their respective closing dates.

Guide Mike Ainsworth with a beautiful Steelhead caught last week.

The Cowlitz River has been putting out a few fish for the guys really putting in the effort. While there hasn’t been much of a true winter run, the real buzz is around the late-February through March return of B-Run Cowlitz Steelhead. Focus on the area around Blue Creek, The Wall, and the Crack Pipe (Blue Creek Boat Launch) for March fish. Fishing around Barrier Dam will be a great option, as the bank anglers here have a great shot at both late-run Steelhead and Cowlitz Spring Chinook.

Spring Chinook

Spring Chinook are just starting their monumental return to the mighty Columbia River. While the late winter storms in the Portland area have kept the Willamette River flowing high and muddy, once it starts to clear, the lower Columbia should see better fishing. Plunkers on the sand bars of the lower river have picked off a few Springers already, but the main return has yet to show. With healthy returns in the forecast, it should be a great season!

Blackmouth

Puget Sound Blackmouth fishing has been decent in Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9). The bait has been spread out and difficult to find on occasion, but the salty dogs that have been braving the Puget Sound’s winter chill have typically had good luck finding some decent fish. Trolling around Possession Bar, Pilot Point, Point No Point and Skunk Bay has been productive for most. San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) has some of the best Blackmouth fishing every winter, with plenty of large fish. Recently, the winner of the Roche Harbor Salmon Derby one the first place prize of $10,000 with a clipped hatchery Blackmouth that tipped the scales of 20.02 pounds! Both areas have a reduced daily limit of one salmon per person.

Clamming

Razor Clamming seasons have been extremely generous this year. The past several years, coastal clam diggers have experienced some of the best digging, longest seasons, and easiest limits in recent memory. State biologists have recognized that our Pacific Beaches host extremely healthy populations and have green-lighted clam digging openings from early winter through mid spring. The latest opener runs through March 3, but expect more additions to the season through April.

Bottomfishing

Westport will soon be abuzz with anglers looking to score their first bottomfish fillets of the season. Charter offices have already begun to book their boats for the Lingcod opener on March 15. Expect great fishing for Sea Bass and Lingcod from mid March through the spring. Shorebound anglers can even get in on the action and head to the Westport Jetty.

It will be a great month to get out of the winter funk and hit the water folks! If anyone out there wants to share a photo or report, please check out our FACEBOOK PAGE

Good luck out there!

Snoqualmie River Winter Steelhead

The Snoqualmie River is one of the best places in the Puget Sound region to catch Winter Steelhead. Its three forks, the Middle, North and South forks converge into a respectable sized river and plummet over the 268 foot tall Snoqualmie Falls. Our beloved waterfall is an impassable barrier to the Steelhead that migrate home from the sea but below it, for many miles, lie a great number of fishing spots that will undoubtedly yield Steelhead to those persistent anglers who put in their time.

Most of the rivers that flow into Puget Sound suffer from diminished returns of Wild Steelhead, including the Snoqualmie. Even so, generous inputs from the Tokul Creek Hatchery continue to give us a great fishing opportunity during the winter.

Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start to the winter fishing season. Local fishing bums will start to catch a few Steelhead near the Tokul Creek Hatchery at Big Eddy. While early season catches are few, light crowds make for an enjoyable fishing experience. Before December 1, barbless hooks must be used and bait is banned. Once the bait ban lifts in December, the river becomes a flurry of activity. December and January will offer up a great two months of Steelhead fishing.

Recommended Gear

The Snoqualmie an be considered a medium-large sized river, therefore longer rods will give an angler better line control. For float fishing, I always bring my 10′ Lamiglas, and usually stick with my 9’6 G Loomis when swinging spoons or drift fishing. Our season closes before the larger Wild Steelhead return in great numbers, and because the average hatchery fish weighs less than ten pounds, a medium action rod will suffice.

The Snoqualmie offers such a great variety of water types that many Steelhead fishing techniques are considered productive. Float fishing is by far the most popular method, especially around the mouth of Tokul Creek. Bobbers matched with Steelhead jigs catch quite a few fish each winter. I prefer a jig that is 1/8 oz; favorite jig colors are any combination of orange, pink, purple, white or blue. When the river gets low and clear, a Nightmare Jig (white head, red body, black tail) offers the perfect contrast and is very effective. Drift fishing with cured roe also catches a fair number of Winter Steelhead and being the technique I first started off with, is something I still continue to catch Snoqualmie Steelhead with.

Bank Fishing on the Snoqualmie

1.) Falls Pool: Parking and the trailhead are located at the end of Fish Hatchery Road. The tailout of the pool will hold Steelhead as will the several smaller pools below.

2.) Big Eddy: Tokul Creek enters the Snoqualmie River at a huge shallow swirling eddy. This area has a high concentration of Steelhead, plenty of traffic, and lots of character. Arguably the most popular place to fish on the Snoqualmie. Located off SR 202 on 372nd Ave and Fish Hatchery Road.

3.) Tokul Creek: The hatchery is located on the creek, so all of the returning Steelhead that haven’t been caught by anglers below will have to swim through this turbid and fast flowing stream. Anglers drift yarn or cured roe in the fast waters of the creek. Located off SR 202 on 372nd Ave and Fish Hatchery Road.

4.) Plum’s Landing: The river at Plum’s Landing looks as if it were handmade for Steelhead. The choppy run just above the concrete ramp is always worth a few casts. Located off Fish Hatchery Road.

5.) David Powell Road: Located off Preston-Fall City Road just south of Fall City, the road closely parallels the river for almost 2 miles. I like to hop between empty pullouts; there are many great spots along this road.

6.) Fall City Bridge: The gravel bar above the bridge offers great water to swing flies or spoons or drift fish. This is one of the classic Snoqualmie River fishing spots.

7.) Tolt T: Tolt-John MacDonald Park is located at the mouth of the Tolt River. This large public park offers great fishing access to the lower Tolt River and the sweeping run on the main river just below the confluence. Located off NE 40th Street or Tolt Ave in Carnation.

8.) Chinook Bend: Chinook Bend Natural Area offers a few great drifts which are accessible by several maintained trails. Located off Carnation Farms Road.

Drifting the Snoqualmie

1.) Plum’s Landing to Fall City: This is a short float with lots of great Steelhead holding water. Plum’s Landing is directly below the Tokul Creek Hatchery. The river at Plum’s is very productive, some folks will launch their boats at Plum’s and fish this large run the entire day. The boulder strewn tailout of the Plum’s drift has lots of great holding areas. There are plenty of places to anchor and fish, pull plugs, or just side drift your way down. Take out at the ramp at the Raging River mouth in Fall City.

2.) Fall City to Richter’s (Neal Road): Also a short float, the Fall City to Neal Road drift has some of the Snoqualmie’s best steelhead water. The long stretch from the Fall City Bridge down to the Flag Pole has produced countless Steelhead. When spending an entire day on the Snoqualmie, I prefer to float both drifts: Plum’s to Richter’s.

3.)Richter’s (Neal Road) to Tolt Hill Bridge: While this float is technically doable, the Snoqualmie through this stretch doesn’t have the flow or character to hold Steelhead. This stretch fishes best when Coho migrate into the Carnation area in October and November.

Motor Boats on the Snoqualmie

Jet Sleds can be launched at the Fall City Launch or Carnation Launch. Side drifting with prawns or cured salmon roe is the most popular technique used. During higher flows, it is common to see jet sleds fishing from the Plum’s Landing Launch down throughout the Fall City area.

Giving Thanks for Early Winter Steelhead

It was another unforgettable Thanksgiving Day. The day was spent with friends and loved ones and was another reminder that we all have so much to be truly thankful for. Our traditional Thanksgiving morning fishing trip that was underway shortly after day break was followed by a great time with friends and a phenomenal meal with the family. For anglers looking forward to capitalize on an extended holiday weekend there are plenty of options, both close to home and in the remote reaches of our region. From late returning Coho to scrappy Chum Salmon to hatchery Winter Steelhead, there are plenty of places to go and plenty of fish to catch.

Most of our Western Washington rivers and streams will be effected by the weather system moving into the area on Saturday afternoon (November 30, 2014), but keeping an eye on weather conditions and water conditions will give everyone a clear idea of what their options are.

Remember, the smaller steams and rivers clear the fastest. After a large Northwest rainstorm, some of our smallest streams can drop into fishable shape well before our largest rivers even crest. Good luck out there everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are a few of my suggestions for anyone looking to go fishing the week after Thanksgiving.

Skykomish River (Coho, Chum, Early Steelhead)

Sky Country can be a great option for any Seattle area angler in late November to early December. While late Coho fishing has been decent, Chums have been a fun and scrappy incidental catch, excitement is building for a solid two months of Winter Steelhead fishing. River levels will move from low to high pretty quickly after our weekend rains hit, but anglers are already reporting Steelhead catches near the mouth of the Wallace River and upper Skykomish below Reiter Ponds Hatchery. Once we see the river levels rise, Steelhead will migrate quickly and offer great fishing options throughout the system. Best bets for bank anglers: Reiter Ponds, Reiter Highwayside, Cable Hole, Proctor Creek, Cracker Bar.

Skykomish River Fishing Spots

Snoqualmie River (Early Steelhead)

The banks of the Snoqualmie River have been a ghost town for the past several weeks. Aside from a few diehard bobberheads fishing the Big Eddy near Tokul and fly guys practicing their double hand casts off David Powell Road, most anglers are holding off until the bait (and barbed hooks) opener on Sunday December 1. Usually there are a few early Hatchery Steelhead caught on opening day, but this river really lights up after the first rains… which coincidentally are expected to hit on the eve of the opener. If the river is too high to fish, the seam at the mouth of Tokul Creek will be a busy place. Best bets: float fishing Big Eddy and with high water plunking at the Carnation Farms Bridge or Fall City Bridge. If the river rises above 6,000 c.f.s. there will be no good options though for a few days.

Snoqualmie River Fishing Spots

Green River (Chum, Early Steelhead)

For anyone living in King County or Pierce County, the Green River is an easy one to get to and has great bank access. The Green is currently loaded with Chum Salmon, has a few Coho still entering the system, and will offer a few lucky anglers the shot at some Winter Steelhead. Although it doesn’t receive the same gluttonous Steelhead smolt plants that other Puget Sound rivers receive, it is still cherished by many local Steelheaders. Bank Bets: Car Body Hole (Auburn Black Diamond Road & Hwy 18), Flaming Geyser State Park, Old Grady Park.

Bogachiel River (Early Steelhead)

Forks area rivers have all seen a few early returning Winter Steelhead, but the Bogey is the kingpin of early hatchery Steelhead catches. Expect quite a crowd at the Bogachiel near the hatchery, but for good reason: plenty of November/December hatchery Steelhead to catch! Float fishing with small jigs or live sand shrimp can be very effective.

Sooes River (Early Steelhead)

This tiny little tidal creek on the Makah Reservation near Neah Bay has a surprising number of returning Winter Steelhead. With slightly more smolts planted here than in the Bogachiel, this could be a great option if rains push our Forks area rivers to unfishable flows. Tribal fishing license is required.

Humptulips River (Late Coho & Early Steelhead)

A large push of late returning Hatchery Coho just hit the river last week, and with a deluge expected to hit the coast on Sunday, there should be a solid mix of Coho and Steelhead in the system once waters recede.

Satsop River (Late Coho & Chum)

The Satsop has been invaded by a huge glut of Chum Salmon, which are a great option for anyone looking to get out and play Catch & Release. Pulling K13, K14 or K15 Kwikfish in any deep runs is a sure way to wear out your fishing partners, but with a strong return of Late Coho and a few signs of Hatchery Steelhead starting to show, there are plenty of options is this Chehalis River tributary.

Puget Sound from Everett & Edmonds (Blackmouth)

Fishing for Resident Chinook has been pretty good in Puget Sound and while Marine Area 9’s November Season is drawing to a close, Marine Area 8-2 is open for fishing through April. Focus on the lowest 10 feet of the water column, as many of these resident feeder Kings are foraging on Sand Lance (Candlefish). Trolling at slow speeds with 11” Flashers paired with Coho Killer Spoons, 3.5” Kingfisher Spoons, or Needlefish Plastic Squid. For a few prime Blackmouth areas, troll around Sandy Point, South Gedney Island and Racetrack.

Albacore Tuna Trip Lake October Report Washington

It has been an exceptional year for Albacore Tuna hunters up here in Washington. We observed consistent fishing from Westport that begun in August and continued through October, which surprised many anglers who never guessed that they could plug fish boxes full of tuna well past the end of our Indian summer. An unexpectedly mild marine forecast left anglers with plenty of opportunity to catch Albacore Tuna even into October. With the exception of All Rivers & Saltwater Charters, the charter fleet in Westport had ended their operations before October this year.

After receiving a last minute invite late Sunday evening to fill the last seat on Captain Mark’s boat, I cleared my schedule and set my alarm for an ungodly hour of the early morning.

As I arrived in Westport that morning, high winds were gusting from the east. I was a bit concerned but the marine forecast suggested that we would have decent weather at least until the afternoon. The crew met the guests; Mark gave us all a safety briefing and a quick word on what we should expect. Fishing had been phenomenal and I was extremely excited.

I hadn’t fished for tuna since 2010, which happened to be my first trip for Albacore. I’d place that day as one of the most memorable fishing trips, so needless to say I was looking forward to another day.

We left the Grays Harbor entrance and set a heading due southwest from Westport. With an easterly wind, the ride out was fairly calm. The sunrise was amazing, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen that October sun as big and red as it was as it lifted off the horizon. 28 miles. A little over an hour before the first stop. That’s the beauty of a speedy boat, and Captain Mark’s Express Trip is a page directly out of San Diego’s fleet yet is unique to the Northwest.

Deckhand Mike pulled out the trolling gear; Mark assembled the crew and gave us our orders. 6 anglers, 4 trolling rods. Once we got into the tuna, four of us were to clear the trolling gear (and fight any fish) and two of us were to race to the bait tank and get some anchovies swimming. We had stopped at a place where the water temperature was 57 degrees, which is a little cooler than Mark would’ve preferred if it were earlier in the season but at a short 30 miles from port and being late October we will take it. There was a fair amount of birds congregated, which is a sign that bait and tuna are in the area.

We were on the troll for less than a few minutes, and it was obvious that we needn’t go searching for tuna. We had parked right on top of them! “Pull em up! We need to drop some live bait Right Now! We cleared the trolling gear and broke out the live bait rods.

We all lined up on the windward side of the boat and proceeded to live bait. The live bait rods featured a lever drag reel with braided mainline to a 25 pound mono topshot to a size 2 live bait hook. Seabirds absolutely love eating anchovies, so to avoid the birds there was a small piece of surgical tubing rigged with a piece of pencil lead to get the bait down out of their reach.

Live anchovies were hooked in the collar behind the gill plate, tossed overboard. Reels were free spooled to allow the bait to drift away from the boat. The freespooled line would slowly pull out from under my thumb, a quick change in line speed would signal a bite! Calm down, count to three, then engage the drag.

It took me several fish before I got the hang of it, but I can’t think of any more thrilling method of fishing. We made one long drift and in those several hours we filled the boat to capacity with large October Albacore. There were more double-, triple-, and quadruple-hookups than singular. We used up every Anchovy in the bait tank. We plugged both fish boxes with Albacore. We covered every square inch of that deck with tuna blood. Mark looked at the building wind chop and decided that it was time to head back; I checked the time and it wasn’t even noon yet! The final count was 45 hefty Albacore Tuna for the six of us, which (in my opinion) is as good as it gets for several hours on a bait stop.

We headed back to Westport in lumpy seas. The ride was long and bumpy. We made it back in the early afternoon, sorted everything out and I headed home. Yet again, I left mesmerized by how phenomenal the day was and counting the days until the next day out on the tuna grounds.

razor-clam

Early November Razor Clam Digs

All of you eager diggers will be happy to read that we’ve got a full week of Razor Clam opportunity on the Washington Coast coming up! Digging will be wide open during the first week of November. With evening clam tides, break out the headlights and lanterns for easy limits. October 2013 Razor Clam digs were exceptionally good with easy limits for nearly every single person who participated, regardless of experience.

Please also check out the Official WDFW News Release for details and the WDFW Razor Clam Page for additional information and regulations.

Digging Razor Clams at night requires a little more preparation, and the November dates will be a little more chilly, gear up and dress warm! Good luck out there everyone!

Friday November 1

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is 0.1 feet at 5:52 pm

Saturday November 2

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -0.6 feet at 6:36 pm

Sunday November 3

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -1.1 feet at 6:16 pm

Monday November 4

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -1.3 feet at 6:59 pm

Tuesday November 5

Open Beaches: Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.3 feet at 7:45 pm

Wednesday November 6

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.2 feet at 8:33 pm

Thursday November 7

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.2 feet at 9:24 pm

Friday November 8

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is 0.3 feet at 10:19 pm

Razor Clam Digging Tips

  • Clam digging not allowed before noon during each open day.
  • Daily limit is the first 15 Razor Clams dug.
  • All clams dug are considered part of your limit, you may not return any small or broken shell clams back to the water.
  • Each person’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
  • Washington Combo Fishing License, Shellfish License or Razor Clam License is required for all participants 15 years or older.
  • Arrive at beach 2 hours before low tide.
  • Bring a propane lantern and a headlamp for night digs.
  • Dress warm during winter Razor Clam digs.
ocean-shores-razor-clam-dig

Washington Razor Clam Digs October 2013

Washington’s Pacific Beaches are about to reopen for another exciting and rewarding Razor Clam dig! An earlier October dig proved to be a great success for hordes of Northwest clam diggers and this upcoming dig offers a chance to get back out to the Coast and score limits for the entire family.

Digging on Washington’s best Razor Clam beaches starts at noon each day, but remember that the closer to low tide the more productive digging gets. So plan to be out on the beach at least 1 to 2 hours before the low tide.

Thursday October 17

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors.
Low Tide is -0.2 feet at 6:15 pm

Friday October 18

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.6 feet at 6:57 pm

Saturday October 19

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.7 feet at 7:38 pm

Sunday October 20

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.7 feet at 8:16 pm

Monday October 21

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.4 feet at 8:55 pm

Tuesday October 22

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors.
Low Tide is -0.1 feet at 9:34 pm

Please consult the Official News Release and the WDFW Razor Clam Page for more information.

Puget Sound Late Season Crabbing Winter 2013

Washingtonians have been eagerly awaiting news about the fate of our beloved 2013 late-season Puget Sound crab fishery: the word is out, and the word is opportunity! Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife staffers have tabulated the harvest data from the 2013 Summer Crabbing Season and have figured out where there is still is available Dungeness and Red Rock Crab to harvest. Most of Puget Sound re-opened for crabbing on October 1.

Although the Summer Crab Season on Puget Sound draws a greater number of participants, the Winter Crab Season offers many boaters a chance to brave the cooler weather and harvest their own fresh local seafood. While temperatures can be chilly and the chop on Puget Sound a little lumpy, the winter crabbing season definitely draws a crowd. With plenty of crab still left to harvest, expect to see good catches through December.

What Areas of Puget Sound are OPEN for Winter Crabbing?


CLICK HERE for WDFW Recreational Crab Fishing

  • NEAH BAY (Marine Area 4) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SEKIU (Marine Area 5) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • EASTERN STRAITS (Marine Area 6) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SAN JUAN ISLANDS (Marine Area 7) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SKAGIT BAY & HOPE ISLAND (Marine Area 8-1) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • PORT GARDNER AND PORT SUSAN (Marine Area 8-2) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • ADMIRALTY INLET (Marine Area 9) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SOUTH PUGET SOUND (Marine Area 13) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • HOOD CANAL (Marine Area 12) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31

What Areas of Puget Sound are CLOSED for Winter Crabbing?

  • SEATTLE & BREMERTON (Marine Area 10) CLOSED
  • TACOMA & VASHON (Marine Area 11) CLOSED

Catch Limits & Regulations

Please consult WDFW Recreational Crab Fishing for a complete listing of rules and regulations.

Daily Limit:5 Dungeness Crab, males only, hardshell condition only, minimum size 6 ¼ inches at carapace. Please record all Dungeness Crab on Winter Puget Sound Crab Catch Record Card.

6 Red Rock Crab, males or females, hardshell condition only, minimum size 5 inches at carapace.

Puget Sound Winter Crabbing Tips

  • Winter weather in the Pacific Northwest can be hazardous for boating conditions, so always check the NOAA Marine Forecase before planning a trip on Puget Sound.
  • Make sure that your crab pot has added weight during periods of extreme tidal movement, please check Protides.com before planning your trip!
  • Fresh bait trumps stale/rotten stuff, so pick up some chicken, turkey or fish carcasses from your local grocer. Saving salmon fillets from the summer season can ensure plenty of crab bait during the winter.
  • Using Fish Finder/GPS waypoint marks to identify where you dropped your crab pots can save time searching around for those little red & white buoys.
  • Crabbing can be very productive at depths of 30 to 100 feet, make sure that if you crab deeper than 100 feet that you severely weight your pot down so that is doesn’t drift.
  • Many of the tips & tactics that crabbing enthusiasts use during Puget Sound Summer Crab Season are important during the Puget Sound winter season.
  • Completely fill out your Winter Crab Catch Record Card, and be sure to send it back to WDFW by February 1, 2014.
  • Dress warm during any winter outing on Puget Sound, it may seem 10 Degrees cooler out on the water than it actually is!
  • There is no better way to prepare fresh Puget Sound crab than to boil it in natural saltwater… bring a 5 gallon bucket (with a sealed lid) aboard to transport seawater back home for your next winter crab boil!
humptulips-river-chinook-salmon

Humptulips Salmon Derby Oct 1 2013

Fall Salmon fishing on the Washington Coast just got a little more interesting with the announcement that there will once again be a Salmon Derby on a local favorite: the Humptulips River. The 5th Annual Humptulips River Salmon Derby offers anglers the chance to enter their trophy Chinook and Coho Salmon for hefty prizes. This great local derby is a great opportunity to join in on great coastal fishing but also give back to the local community! For anyone that fishes the Humptulips River, 1 ticket is good for the entirety of the Derby!

Humptulips Salmon Derby Information

The 2013 Humptulips Derby headquarters is the Humptulips Store, where derby tickets can be purchased and salmon can be weighed in. All proceeds go to fund the Humptulips Volunteer Fire Department and the Humptulips Food Bank & Community Support. Last year’s derby drew in 55 participants and local derby sponsors are really hoping that this year’s attendance will surpass that. All tickets must be purchased at the Humptulips Store, to be valid for the day they must be purchased before 9am. Any derby tickets purchased after 9am will not be valid until the following day.
The winner of the 2012 Derby weighed in a Chinook Salmon that was 26 lbs 6 oz… many folks stopped by the weigh in with larger fish, but no ticket! Get your ticket at the Humptulips Store!

Derby Prizes

This year community organizers have outdone themselves with an array of huge prizes! Get in on the action!

  • 1ST PLACE KING SALMON:
    Baranof Wilderness Lodge, Alaska, 4 days/4 nights $3500 Value
  • 2ND PLACE KING SALMON:
    $200 Bi-Mart Gift Card
  • 3RD PLACE KING SALMON:
    $150 Bi-Mart Gift Card
  • 4TH PLACE KING SALMON:
    $100 Bi-Mart Gift Card
  • 5TH PLACE KING SALMON:
    $50 Bi-Mart Gift Card
  • MYSTERY COHO ***October 26 Only!*** Alaskan Fishing Trip: Eagle Charters, Elfin Cove, Alaska, 2 days/3 nights $3300 Value

AWARDS DINNER: Masionic Lodge 8th Street Hoquiam. October 26, 1:00-8:00 PM

  • Kodiak Salmon, New York Steak, Roasted Whole Pig all prepared by 5 Star Chef David Poor.
  • Live Auction with plenty of great items including: 3 days/3 nights at Glacier Bear Lodge, Yakutat, Alaska. 6:00-7:00 PM
  • For Details Call (360) 987-2335

Purchase your $30 derby ticket at the Humptulips Store! One ticket is good for the entirety of the Humptulips Salmon Derby. As of October 1, 2013 there have already been 12 tickets sold, which is leading up to a very successful derby . The Humptulips Store is open daily at 5:30 AM, so anglers are encouraged to pick up a ticket before hitting the water.


Humptulips Store
1935 Kirkpatrick Road
Humptulips WA 98552
(360) 987-2335

Breakfast & Lunch

The Humptulips Grocery will be serving hungry derby participants lunch (burgers and hot dogs) on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays. Breakfast will be available Saturdays & Sundays only.

Great Fishing Prospects for 2013

An abnormally wet September has already pushed plenty of large, fresh Chinook Salmon into the Humptulips River! Local anglers and guides have been out seeing record setting fishing action for the early season! With a limit of 3 Salmon, anyone headed out to the Humptulips River is destined to see some of our region’s best fall salmon fishing. Capitalize on great fishing with this derby and help support the local community!

Sponsors

hump3Baranof Wilderness Lodge, Eagle Charters, Glacier Bear Lodge, Timberland Bank, Umpqua Bank, Bi-Mart, Nielton Landscaping, West Marine, Tica, Horns and Hooks, Dairy Fresh, Dunshire Printers, F/V Prestige, Franz, Frito-Lay, Harbor Wholesale, Harr Distributing, Jay’s Produce, luckyshotsupply.com, Beau Mac, Masco Petroleum, Michael’s Farm Fresh Meat, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Vision Hooks, Washington State Fishing Guides, West Coast Portables, Dino’s Pizza, GH Wine Sellars, Fish Tail Brewery, Internet Café, Quinault River Inn, Cruisers Pizza, Ocean Shores Inn & Suites, Grey Gull Motel, Red Genie, Polynesian, Moo Moo Oink Oink Cluck Cluck, Dollar Tree, Lake Quinault Lodge, Hi Tide Resort, Seabrook, Echoes of the Sea, Green Lantern, Grocery Outlet, Rain Forest Resort, Home Town Liquidators, Les Schwab Tire, O’Reilly Auto, Chimney Techniques, Home Port/Best Western, Ace Hardware, Humdinger, Duffy’s, Dominos Pizza, Amerigas, Las Maracas, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Mazatlan, Caskey’s Industrial Supply, Harbor Saw, Chris’ Motorcycle, Wiitimaki Jewelry, Dennis Company, Levee Lumber, A Wild Hair, Wishkah Distillery, River Bend Jigs, Pacific Paradise, topfishingsecrets.com, Champion Floors, Corporate Image Embroidery, NC Machinery, Yakima Bait, P-Line, Okuma, Tillamook Jerky. hump4

***All fish entered into the derby are subject to inspection by WDFW or derby personnel. All WDFW rules and regulations apply.***

snohomish-pink-salmon

Snohomish River Pink Salmon

The Snohomish River is the largest freshwater source in central Puget Sound and its waters pulse with schools of silver-bodied Pink Salmon every odd year.

During these odd-numbered years (example 2013, 2015, 2017) the internal clocks within every maturing Pink Salmon in the Pacific triggers the largest annual migration of salmon back to Puget Sound. The fish invade the Sound by the millions; each river receives a healthy share.

The Snohomish River will see an estimated 988,621 Humpy Salmon returning this year, and there will be an equally impressive number of anglers that will head to the river to greet them.

The Season

Pink Salmon live, spawn and die on a very strict biological schedule. They hatch from the gravel, quickly migrate to marine areas to mature and return to the river to spawn at age two. While there is a run of Pink Salmon in Puget Sound rivers every year, the odd-year returns are massive with close to a million returning fish to each major watershed.

Fishing for Pink Salmon begins this year on August 1st in the Lower Snohomish River below the Highway 9 Bridge in the town of Snohomish. Upriver areas open on August 16th. Early in August small schools of Pink Salmon will push into the river with each incoming tide. Each fish caught will be silver-bodied and fresh from the Sound. The in-river runs build and build until a peak around Labor Day. By September there is an even mix of salmon that are both fresh from the salt and turned to spawning.

The Snohomish River is fortunate to have returns of Salmon that make it back to this system, one species stacked after another. Pink Salmon are the first to return to the Snohomish; as the Pink return peaks, Coho Salmon are just beginning to enter the freshwater. And just as Coho Salmon fishing peaks the Chums start to show. Then Chum Salmon fishing season fades into Winter Steelhead season. Therefore, on an odd-year there is a continuous fishing opportunity on the Snohomish River from August until January.

Best Snohomish River Fishing Spots

For a full listing, check out SNOHOMISH RIVER SALMON FISHING

Lowell Rotary Park

Lowell Rotary Park is a popular lower river fishing location. It’s launch can be a bit tricky at low tide, but anglers utilize this park to fish from shore and launch small boats, kayaks and canoes. Lowell Rotary Park is accessible from Lowell-Snohomish River Road.

Downtown Snohomish

Downtown Snohomish features a riverfront pathway that offers anglers access to a very fishy part of the river. The paved pathway meanders along a riprap rock bank of the river and the deep trough that runs next to the pathway consistently holds fish. It can be accessed from anywhere in downtown.

Bob Herman Park at Thomas Eddy

Thomas Eddy is one of the famed salmon holes of the Snohomish River. Bob Herman Natural Area is a vast public park popular with hikers, birders and anglers. A pathway leads from the parking area down to the river and splits, paralleling the river upstream and downstream of the main access trail. Access if from Connelly Road near Snohomish.

522 Bridge

Great public access is available under the SR 522 Highway just outside of Monroe. Anglers fish both the north bank and the south bank near the bridge. North bank access if from Tester Road near Monroe and south bank access if from Elliott Road near Maltby.

How to Catch Snohomish River Humpies

For a full listing of lures and methods visit BEST LURES FOR PINK (HUMPY) SALMON IN RIVERS

Float & Jig

Float fishing is close to being one of the most versatile techniques we have here in the Pacific Northwest and Pink Salmon are an easy target for the bobber crowd. Suspending a steelhead jig under a float can be a very effective way of catching Pinks. My favorite colors are Hot Pink, Light Pink and White. Tipping the jig with a small chunk of prawn or sand shrimp can double the lure’s effectiveness.

Drifting Dick Nite Spoons

Dick Nite Spoons are one of the most effective yet oddest salmon lures in existence. While we tend to look for lures that trigger the salmon’s spawning or feeding aggression with large flashy lures, the teeny tiny Dick Nite Spoon catches countless salmon on rivers like the Snohomish. When fishing in an area where there is little to no current, a cast/retrieve method will work well. In areas where there is greater flow, allow your Dick Nite set-up to drift down current with nothing more than a very slow retrieve. Whatever the water condition the goal is to get the Spoon to flutter gently; a fast retrieve will cause the Spoon to spin (no good) and a super slow retrieve might not create the flutter that entices the strike you are looking for.

Plunking with Sand Shrimp

Sand Shrimp are one of the most delicate, most sought-after, and most effective natural baits used to catch Pink Salmon. Plunking a Sand Shrimp in the current can be a great way to enjoy fast action without having rod in hand. Bait up a fresh Sand Shrimp on your plunking set-up, grab a rod holder, and place your bait into the holding slot. I prefer to rig a small Spin Glo in front of my bait to add a little floatation and attraction.

Buzz Bombing Humpies

In the lower reaches of the Snohomish River, fishing with small Buzz Bombs can be extremely effective. Buzz Bombs are a popular metal jig used to catch salmon from the beaches throughout Puget Sound and the deep tidal pools in its rivers. Popular colors include Holographic Pink, Pearl Pink, Hot Pink and Glow Pink. I would recommend fishing with 1.5” and 2” Buzz Bombs. These are very small and lightweight but perfect for twitching for Pink Salmon in the rivers. Fishing Buzz Bombs is very simple: cast, allow to sink to desired depth, lift rod to lift jig, drop rod and reel slack, lift, drop, repeat. The up-and-down flutter of the metal jig will drive Pink Salmon to strike.

Snoqualmie-Falls-July-15-2008-(1)

Snoqualmie River Fishing

The Snoqualmie River is regarded as a special place to many Seattle area fishermen due to the ample public access and generous winter steelhead plants. Because its famed pools and runs are so close to the city, it’s an easy river to hit after work or for a few hours on the weekend.

The Snoqualmie’s three forks (North, Middle and South) originate deep in the heart of the Cascade Range. They feed off the mountain range’s snowpack and lowland rains. The forks converge near the town of North Bend to form the mainstem Snoqualmie, which meanders through the upper valley for a few short miles before pouring over Snoqualmie Falls. The waterfall is 268’ tall and acts as a natural boundary for sea-run fish like Salmon, Steelhead or Cutthroat Trout. The river from Snoqualmie Falls through Fall City is a steelheader’s paradise. Its runs, pools and boulder gardens are full of character and offer quite a bit of holding water for the angler to assault.

Geographically, it is the closest steelhead river to Seattle and Bellevue. The lower river receives a return of hatchery born winter Steelhead, wild winter Steelhead, Coho, Chum, Chinook, Pink Salmon and Sea Run Cutthroat Trout. Above Snoqualmie Falls, the North, Middle, and South Fork host healthy populations of Rainbow, Cutthroat and Brook Trout.

While many of the famed steelhead holes become crowded during the prime steelhead months of December and January, productive steelhead spots away from the hordes can be found with a little gumption.

Snoqualmie River Winter Steelhead

The Snoqualmie’s first winter Steelhead are caught in November, and by the first week of December fishing really heats up. Fishing usually closes in February to protect returning Wild Steelhead.

Steelhead Fishing near Carnation

Fishing can be productive in the Carnation area, although the Tolt River no longer receives steelhead plants, and most of the hatchery fish travel through this area quickly. While most of the fishing pressure in the Carnation area is from bank anglers, it’s common to spot a few jet sleds that launch at the Tolt Hill Bridge launch and side drift bait downstream through the Carnation area.

Favorite Steelhead spots near Carnation

One of my favorite plunking areas is located in Carnation. While I don’t plunk that often, I have witnessed the locals catch plenty of steelhead plunking with sand shrimp/eggs/spin glos’ near the Carnation Farms Bridge. As you drive over the Carnation Farms Bridge towards town, hanging an immediate right (south) on 310th Ave NE will lead you to a King County Nature Park, with riverside trails that offers a great place to bank fish. I personally spend most of my time bank fishing at Chinook Bend Nature Park, located between Carnation Farms and the bridge. The Snoqualmie River flows around three sides of this 59 acre public natural area.

Steelhead Fishing near Fall City

There is more fishing effort from Tokul Creek downstream to Fall City than anywhere else on the river. The entire area is inhabited by fly fishermen, gear fishermen, drift boaters and jet sleds. Most of the steelhead caught in this large river system are caught near Fall City. The Tokul Creek hatchery releases about 150,000 winter steelhead smolt, and they all return in a two month period. Fishing in Tokul Creek isn’t for everyone. Tokul is a very swift moving creek, and most anglers drift fish with a tuft of yarn and a foot of leader. I have attempted to fish it once, and I assume that most of the steelhead that are caught here are lined (snagged in the mouth). I would consider it a pretty low quality experience, with many fishing shoulder-to-shoulder. The creek empties into the Snoqualmie, forming the Big Eddy. This area is a fun fishery if you don’t mind company. Plum’s Landing is below Tokul Creek, and is the drift boat put-in for the upper float. Some anglers make the short float down to Fall City, and others make the full day float below Fall City to Richters (Neal Road below Fall City Farms).

Favorite Steelhead spots near Fall City

I love floating the Snoqualmie River in my drift boat, regardless of how many people are on the river. It is my home river, I live about five minutes from Plum’s Landing. I often float Plum’s to Richter’s, beaching the boat in Fall City and walking across the street for lunch at the Raging River Saloon is one of our favorite winter passtimes. On any given winter day, plunkers set up their rod holders and build their campfires right at the Fall City bridge. These guys catch plenty of fish. The run just above the bridge up to the mouth of the Raging River is perfect for anyone swinging flies or spoons. For the bank bound angler, there is a bit of access off Fish Hatchery Road (leading to Plum’s & Tokul). On the opposite side of the river from Plum’s, David Powell Road parallels the river for a mile with multiple pullouts. I also enjoy bank fishing from Big Eddy to Snoqualmie Falls, but the road is currently closed so access is difficult.

Snoqualmie River Summer Steelhead

Fishing for steelhead on the Snoqualmie was once my favorite summer passtime. I loved going down to Snoqualmie Falls, Plum’s Landing or Fall City for the first light steelhead bite, but summer steelhead are no longer planted in the Snoqualmie River. Believe it or not, Skykomish River summer steelhead do travel up into the Snoqualmie and can still be caught, although the numbers of steelhead in the Snoqualmie during the summer are a fraction of what they once were.

Snoqualmie River Coho Salmon

The Snoqualmie River has a healthy run of wild Coho; they spawn in the main stem, the Tolt, the Raging, Cherry Creek, Griffin Creek and other smaller tributaries.

The most popular places to fish for Coho are boat access. The High Bridge launch just upstream from the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Skykomish Rivers is the most popular place to put in a jet sled to fish the upper Snohomish. Boaters catch plenty of Coho by drift fishing Dick Nite spoons and by casting wiggle warts and spinners.

Once the first October rainstorms start to push Coho up the Snoqualmie, Coho begin to stack at the mouths of the Tolt River and Griffin Creek (just upriver from the Tolt Hill Bridge launch). Trolling or casting wiggle wart style plugs can be very productive here.

Snoqualmie River Trout

The Snoqualmie offers resident and sea-run trout plenty of great habitat. While the lower Snoqualmie River watershed’s primary catches are Sea Run Cutthroat Trout, there still are some resident Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat Trout that can be found. The Snoqualmie River upstream from Snoqualmie Falls offers phenomenal fishing for trout in an almost alpine setting. The North Fork, Middle Fork, South Fork and Upper Mainstem Snoqualmie each offer a fishing experience that is unique unto itself. The North Fork being the most remote, the Middle Fork being the largest, the South Fork being the easiest to access and clearest, and the Upper Mainstem being the slowest and filled with drowned timber. Above the Falls, the river’s trout population doesn’t have to compete with Salmon or Steelhead younglings for food, so the trout-per-mile count is higher. Expect to see a healthy mix of Cutthroat, Rainbows and possibly Brook Trout above the Falls.

Trolling for Pink (Humpy) Salmon

When Pink Salmon surge into the waters of Washington, British Columbia and Alaska, catching them on the troll is usually an easy proposition.

Trolling is an extremely effective method to catch all species of salmon, especially the abundant Humpy Salmon that returns to nearby saltwater areas in droves.

Whether you are fishing for Pinks in Puget Sound, off the waters of BC’s Lower Mainland or anywhere in Alaska, trolling is the best way to put limits in the fish box.

Humpy Salmon Trolling Setups

Flasher & Spoon

  • 8” Flasher: White
  • Goldstar Coho Killer: Hot Pink, White Lightning, Purple Haze
  • 24” to 30” leader (20 to 30 pound test).
  • Run a small bead down the leader before threading on the Mini Squid.
  • Add Herring or Shrimp scent to spoon when fishing is slow.

Dodger & Mini Squid

  • 8” Dodger: Chrome or White
  • 2.5” Mini Squid: Hot Pink
  • Single 1/0 Octopus Hook tied on a 24” leader (20 to 30 pound test).
  • Run a small bead down the leader before threading on the Mini Squid.
  • Add Herring or Shrimp scent to spoon when fishing is slow.

Trolling Depth for Pink Salmon

Most schools of Pink Salmon will be found schooling near the surface in open water or travelling near the shoreline. Pink Salmon often school together in large groups. During early morning and late evening hours Humpy Salmon can be found at the surface. Set your gear anywhere from surface to 30 feet early on, then as the sun rises run gear at 30 feet to 80 feet. Marking fish on a fish finder will give you a great idea of what depth to run.

Trolling Speed for Pink Salmon

For the best Humpy Salmon fishing, troll slow. Most salmon anglers will typically troll at 2 mph to 4 mph for Chinook or Coho but Pinks prefer a slower presentation. When setting up for a troll path, place your flasher/lure in the water and troll barely fast enough to get your flasher to rotate or dodger to dodge. Trolling speeds are dependent on how strong the current runs but in general speeds of 1 mph to 2 mph is the range.

Downrigger Trolling for Humpies

Trolling with downriggers is the most popular and most effective strategy for catching Humpies in saltwater areas. Typically, set your Humpy rig back 15 to 20 feet before clipping the mainline into the release clip. If you plan on “stacking” more than one line per downrigger make sure to give at least 20 feet between release clips. I will start off my morning running all of my gear very close to the surface; as the morning progresses I start to lower my gear down. Salmon are very light sensitive and as the sun rises high over the water they will school at greater depths.

tacoma-puget-sound-salmon-fishing

Puget Sound Chinook Salmon Hot Spots

Many Pacific Northwest residents are excited to wet a line this year for salmon in Puget Sound. The return of Chinook Salmon to the Sound draws the greatest excitement, afterall they are the King of all Salmon. The chance at a hefty Chinook leads many to head out on our local waters all summer long. The Puget Sound has several extremely productive areas that have been putting Kings into fish boxes for generations; here are a few of our favorites…

Mid Channel Bank near Port Townsend

Mid Channel Bank is located a few miles south of Port Townsend and is truly the center of Chinook Salmon fishing in Admiralty Inlet. As Summer Chinook migrate south through Admiralty, they push onto Mid Channel and follow the outer ledge of it southeastward deeper into the Sound. Trolling with downriggers along the 100’ to 120’ contour line on the outside of the bank is very productive.

Point No Point near Hansville

pilot-point-chinook-salmon-fishing

Point No Point is the northeastern most point on the Kitsap Peninsula. PNP juts out into the Sound and creates enormous tide rips. Traditionally, a large boathouse on the point provided anglers a short row out to the salmon holding near the rips. Mooching had been the method of choice since settlers first entered the area. Drift mooching with herring is still a popular pastime here, and the moochers can be found on the lee side of the point during any tide. Trolling the outside of the rips can be very productive as well.

Pilot Point south of Hansville

Pilot Point is located south of Point No Point and is often lumped together with the notorious PNP. While it is geographically not as pronounced as PNP, it does offer enough of a feature to create a break in the current during a tide change. Troll northward towards PNP during an outgoing tide and southward from PNP to Pilot Point during an incoming tide.

Possession Bar south of Whidbey Island

puget-sound-salmon-fishing

Possession Bar is an expansive underwater shelf that features some of the Puget Sound’s best salmon fishing areas. The Bar actually offers many specific areas to target salmon. West Possession Bar near Scatchet Head abuts the heavy currents of Admiralty Inlet; it is also the most heavily impacted from weather entering the Sound from Admiralty.
The West Bar is best fished on an outgoing tide; heavy currents from an incoming pushes so much water up onto the shelf that trolling gear is difficult to fish and is easily tangled. I like to run my trolling gear close to the bottom and follow a contour line. On a prime outgoing tide set a northward trolling path along the western edge of the Bar.
East Possession Bar near Possession Point is best fished on an incoming tide. Bait gets swept off the top of Possession and the salmon will congregate near the shelf of the East Bar to feed.
Tin Shed is located halfway between the West Bar and East Bar. This horseshoe shaped shelf can be easily fished through either an incoming or outgoing tide. Tin Shed often holds plenty of bait which means that there is usually a fair number of salmon hanging around the area.

Appletree Cove Point near Kingston

Appletree Cove Point is an area just north of Jeff Head near Kingston. This is one of the traditional mooching areas in Central Puget Sound. Chinook find plenty of Herring and Candlefish in the area to feed on, so mooching is naturally productive here.

Jeff Head south of Kingston

Jeff Head is a large underwater bank that reaches out from eastern Kitsap Peninsula into the Sound. Trolling along the outer edge of Jeff Head can be extremely productive for Chinook; anglers also troll and drift mooch across the top of the bank. On an incoming tide troll along the southern shelf; on an incoming tide troll along the eastern and northern end of the shelf. This is an expansive area and one of the more popular salmon fishing areas in Puget Sound.

Edmonds

puget-sound-wild-chinook

The Oil Docks at Point Wells offer a great area to intercept Puget Sound Summer Chinook. This fishing area is very close to Edmonds Marina and Shilshole Marina in Ballard. Focus on the area from the Oil Docks southward to The Trees at Richmond Beach. This area isn’t a traditional hotspot like Possession or Point Defiance but many fish are taken here throughout the Summer Chinook Season.

Meadow Point, West Point, Shilshole Bay

Meadow Point, West Point and Shilshole Bay are considered Ballard’s backyard. Seattle area salmon fishermen spend plenty of time fishing the early morning bites and those classic sunset tide changes. West Point is the most pronounced which creates huge tidal rips during a running tide. Fish the outside of the tide rip and troll around the point during a tide change. Meadow Point offers lighter rips and easier trolling, but the moochers seem to congregate around West Point. Chinook will mill around Shilshole Bay en route to Lake Washington via the Ballard Locks. Be aware of closures in the Bay during summer months.

Elliott Bay

Elliott Bay has been one of the most iconic salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest. Downtown Seattle skyscrapers rise up from the eastern shoreline. This urban fishery usually peaks in July and August but in recent years fishing for Chinook has been closed due to conflicts between the Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Muckleshoot Tribe. Countless Seattle salmon anglers are in mourning for this great fishery. We all hope to someday return to the waters of our city with the chance to catch a salmon in the shadow of the Space Needle.

Dolphin Point and Point Beales east of Vashon Island

Both Dolphin Point and Point Beales are popular salmon fishing areas in the northern reaches of Marine Area 11. This area opens earlier than the rest of Puget Sound for Chinook Salmon fishing and produces both Resident Chinook and Mature Chinook. Both are pronounced points and create a tide rip that forces bait to condense, so Chinook will congregate near these points. During a tide change anglers will fish anywhere. On an incoming tide start trolling southeastward towards the points, change course to southwestwards after clearing the point. I make a wide turn to clear the tide rip and troll along the outside of it. On an outgoing tide reverse your direction.

Three Tree Point near Burien

This area is often overlooked by Seattle and Tacoma salmon fishermen, but is a spot that South Sound Chinook slow down and hold. Troll around the point on the outside of any tide rip.

Point Defiance

Point Defiance is one of the most well known salmon fishing areas in the Northwest. Tacoma’s waterfront was once lined with boathouses and fishermen had easy access to this area. Point Defiance is the front door to the Tacoma Narrows; the area is a chokepoint for salmon. Mooching with Herring is the traditional method to catch Summer Chinook but trolling is the current method of choice for many who ply these waters.
Fishing at the Clay Banks just east of Point Defiance can be very good. Trolling with the tide in this area with Flashers & Hoochies or Flashers & Spoons are effective setups. Troll with the tide. An outgoing tide usually produces the best bite but fishing can remain consistent through both incoming and outgoing tides.

puget-sound-chinook-salmon

dungeness-crab-puget-sound

Puget Sound Crab Season 2013

Puget Sound’s 2013 summer crabbing season has just kicked off! Get in on some great summertime fun out on the Sound. Early reports are rolling in and crabbing in all areas of Puget Sound has been great! Here is a rough outline of the 2013 Puget Sound Crab Season, always consult the Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet before heading out on the water… Good Luck out there folks!

OFFICIAL WDFW NEWS RELEASE FOR THE 2013 PUGET SOUND CRAB SEASON

Puget Sound Crab License

Anyone 15 years or older is required to possess a Washington State Shellfish License or Combination Fishing License. In addition, anyone fishing for Crab in Puget Sound is required to get a Puget Sound Crab Endorsement (regardless of age). All Dungeness Crab that are kept must be recorded on a Catch Record Card.

Crab Limits & Size in Puget Sound

The daily limit for crab in Puget Sound…

  • 5 Dungeness Crab (males only, hardshell condition only); Minimum Size is 6 ¼”
  • 6 Red Rock Crab (either males or females); Minimum Size is 5”

Puget Sound Crabbing Areas & Seasons

Marine Areas in Puget Sound (Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11, 13) and Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will be open for crabbing from July 1 (7am) through September 2.
San Juan Islands will open at a later date. Marine Area 7 South opens July 15 (7am); Marine Area 7 North opens August 15 (7am). San Juan Islands will remain open for crabbing until September 30.

When is Puget Sound Open for Crabbing?

Puget Sound crabbing is opened for crabbing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

  • There are strict rules and guidelines for crabbing in Puget Sound, please use this page as a rough guide. Consult the official Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet for all regulations & seasons.
  • There are strict rules on crab pot/trap/ring construction: please consult the Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet
  • All crab gear must be removed from the water at the end of the weekly open days.
  • Crab gear can be left overnight only when the following day is open.
  • Crab Catch Record Card must be returned to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife at the end of the crabbing season.
puget-sound-crabbing

Puget Sound Dungeness Crabbing

On the calm summer waters of our Puget Sound, many local seafood connoisseurs indulge in a tradition that has lasted for the last half dozen generations. Small boats work the nearshore waters, the baiting and setting and pulling of pots all for a payout of big hardshell crab. Dungeness Crab are one of the tastiest critters that we pull from the waters of Puget Sound and they draw 250,000 Northwesterners to the salt every year.

Dungeness Crab are prized for their deliciously sweet meat and their abundance in Puget Sound. They can easily reach 8 inches (measurement across the carapace) and weigh a hefty two pounds. They prefer a habitat of eelgrass beds, sandy or gravel sea floor, and typically live in waters less than 150 feet in depth.

Catching Dungeness Crab is a fairly straight-forward endeavor. It is as simple as picking a spot, setting a baited crab pot, letting it soak for a few hours and then harvesting your catch.

Puget Sound Crabbing Spots

dungeness-crab-fishing

The Puget Sound has far too many Dungeness Crab hot spots to mention, but here are a few of my favorites…

North Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Spots

North Puget Sound offers great crabbing in the shallow expanses of its largest estuaries. Padilla Bay, Skagit Bay and Birch Bay are great places to catch Dungeness Crab in less than 50 feet of water. The North Sound features large eelgrass beds which are the preferred habitat for Dungeness Crab.

  • Utsalady Bay north of Camano Island
  • Camano Island State Park
  • Port Susan near Tulalip & Camano Island
  • Padilla Bay
  • Guemes Island
  • Skagit Bay
  • Birch Bay

Central Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Spots

seattle-dungeness-crabbing

The Central Sound experiences the greatest number of crabbing enthusiasts, the greatest number of boats, and yet it offers up limits of Dungeness to those that crab its waters. Setting pots with the Seattle skyline in view can offer a possibility of full pots & limits for everyone on the boat (especially early in the crab season).

  • Apple Cove Point near Kingston
  • Browns Bay near Edmonds
  • Port Madison near Bainbridge Island
  • Alki Point near West Seattle
  • Shilshole Bay near Ballard (Seattle)
  • Blake Island near Bremerton

South Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Spots

South Puget Sound features an expansive shoreline with many islands, inlets and bays. The entire South Sound is very productive for Dungeness Crab, yet it receives less fishing pressure than other areas of the Sound.

  • Poverty Bay near Redondo
  • Nisqually Reach
  • Case Inlet
  • Carr Inlet

Hood Canal Dungeness Crab Spots

Hood Canal features some of the Pacific Northwest’s best Dungeness Crabbing. Anywhere along the Canal shoreline in the 35 feet to 80 feet range can offer great crabbing. A few of my favorites are…

  • Squamish Harbor
  • Dabob Bay
  • Lilliwaup
  • Potlatch State Park
  • The Great Bend
  • Twanoh State Park

How to Catch Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound

Catching Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound is a fairly simple task. The majority of folks who target Dungeness utilize boats. Catching crab from shore or pier is possible, but boating greatly increases your chances.

What do I need to catch Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound?

There are a few key items needed to effectively catch Dungeness Crab…

  • Shellfish License with Puget Sound Crab Endorsement
  • Crab Pot, Crab Trap or Crab Ring
  • 50’ to 100’ of leaded line
  • Bait Box or Bait Pin
  • Red & White Buoy labeled with crabber’s information
  • Bait (Salmon Head/Carcass, Filleted our Rockfish, Turkey Drumstick, Chicken, Herring, Squid
  • Crab Measurement Device
  • Cooler with Ice

To effectively set crab pots in Puget Sound, it is important to familiarize yourself with the area you will be working. By looking at a nautical chart, one can decipher roughly how deep to set pots. In an area like Everett’s Jetty Island most crabbers set pots in less than 40’, therefore 100’ of leaded line will do nothing but add extra tangles and frustration. If you plan on crabbing in Hood Canal near Lilliwaup, 100’ might be a perfect amount of line. Understand the area’s currents and tidal patterns. Areas with heavier currents like Admiralty Inlet may require heavily weighted pots, where expansive shallow areas like Birch Bay do not require as much weight.

I prefer to set my pots in a specific area. If I am setting four pots, I will run them in a straight line so they are easy to find and manage. When visiting a new area, I prefer to vary the pot depths until I find the depth where crabbing is most productive. For instance, I might set four pots at 45’, 65’, 75’ & 85’, and relocate them after the first pull. I often find that my pots eventually end up fishing a fairly specific depth, which can vary based on location. When I head down to Tillamook Bay, Oregon: 25’ to 35’. Shilshole in Seattle: 65’ to 75’. Hood Canal: 45’ to 65’.

Soaking Pots & Rings

When using pots & traps a soak of at least 2 hours is ideal. Crab need a little time to seek out the bait and work their way around the pot to find the entrance. Crab can find their way out of a pot, but as long as there is some bait left to feed on they will stay. Make sure to use plenty of bait for an overnight soak.

When using rings, a 15 minute to 30 minute soak is ideal. Rings lay flat and Dungeness need to simply scurry over to the bait and begin feeding.

Crabbing Rules for Puget Sound

crabbing-in-washington-puget-sound

It is important to understand the fishing regulations for Puget Sound. Check out the WDFW RECREATIONAL CRAB FISHING REGULATION PAGE. Currently, the daily limit is 5 Male Dungeness Crab per person with a minimum size limit of 6 ¼ inches. Always carry a crab measurement device and keep only Dungeness that are larger than the minimum. Dungeness Crab molt throughout the Spring & Summer, and any molting soft-shell Dungeness has to be released. To determine whether a Dungeness is hard-shell or soft-shell squeeze the back leg or the underside of the carapace, if it flexes with ease, throw it back. There are specific openings each week, and being aware what days are open and what hours are open is important. Soaking crab pots overnight can be very productive, but there might be rules as to when you can set and pull your pots.

Snoqualmie Valley’s Best Fishing Lakes

The Snoqualmie Valley is located just east of Seattle and Bellevue; it is well known for its country charm, small farming towns and multitude of outdoor recreation options. The Snoqualmie Valley’s lakes offer great fishing close to the city yet away from the hectic pace of urban life. Lakes in the valley feature a nice mix of Largemouth Bass, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout.

Whether you are looking for great lake fishing close to Issaquah, Redmond, Bellevue, Seattle or Kirkland… the lakes of the Snoqualmie Valley are a great nearby option!

Fishing Season

Most lakes in the Snoqualmie Valley open to fishing on the last Saturday in April and remain open through October. Several Snoqualmie Valley lakes are open to fishing year round.

Lake Margaret in Duvall

Lake Margaret is one of the more popular fishing lakes in the Snoqualmie Valley. It is located about 5 miles northeast of Duvall, Washington. Fishing is a popular pastime for lakeside homeowners, but most of the folks out on the lake access Lake Margaret from the public fishing access located on the lake’s southern end. The public fishing access offers good bank fishing and a place to launch a small boat. Lake Margaret is opened for fishing from the last Saturday in April through October. The lake is heavily stocked with Rainbow Trout and also has a healthy population of Cutthroat Trout that spawn in Margaret Creek on the north side of the lake. While this lake offers Largemouth Bass fishing, very few anglers target them.

Lake Joy in Duvall

Lake Joy is located about five miles southeast of Duvall, Washington. The lake offers no public access, but is a local favorite for those that have access via a friend with a lakefront home. The lake is very woody; its shoreline is ringed with a thick mat of lily pads by early summer. Lake Joy is a Largemouth Bass fishing paradise. Fishing for Largemouth Bass starts in April and remains good through September. Fishing is open year round.

Mud Lake in Duvall

Mud Lake is a small pond located on the eastern edge of downtown Duvall, Washington. It is a very murky lake that has public access, is rarely fished but offers Largemouth Bass. Fishing is open year round.

Lake Marcel in Duvall

Lake Marcel is located about four miles southeast of Duvall, Washington. It is a private lake with a park designated for local residents only. Fishing for Rainbow Trout and Largemouth Bass is decent. Fishing is open year round.

Cottage Lake in Woodinville

Cottage Lake is located four miles east of Woodinville, Washington. Cottage Lake County Park is a large public area with a fishing dock, car topper boat launch and plenty of bank access. The lake is heavily stocked with Rainbow Trout in the spring and has great Largemouth Bass fishing. The lake is opened for fishing from the last Saturday in April through October.

Sikes Lake in Carnation

Sikes Lake is located north of Carnation, Washington and borders Carnation Farms Road. Sikes is a long, narrow lake and surrounded by fields. This lake is well known by locals for its trophy Largemouth Bass. This lake is open to fishing year round, but fishing is best from March through September.

Lake Langlois in Carnation

Langlois is one of the most popular lakes in the Snoqualmie Valley. This beautiful lake is located about one mile south of Carnation, Washington. There is a public fishing access on NE 24th Street (Lake Langlois Road) which is a great place to launch a boat but doesn’t really have any bank fishing opportunities. It is a deep lake that is full of bass fishing structure (docks, downed trees, logs, ect.). The lake is open for fishing on the last Saturday in April through October. The lake is heavily stocked with Rainbow Trout, and also hosts a population of very big Largemouth Bass.

Ames Lake in Redmond

Ames Lake is located two miles west of Carnation, Washington. This lake has no public access. For those that have access to the lake, fishing for Perch, Largemouth Bass and Trout is good from April through October. Ames Lake is open year round.

Lake Alice in Fall City

Lake Alice is located south of Fall City, Washington. The lake is ringed with homes, but has a small public fishing access; this access point is primarily a boat launch site, and offers little bank fishing opportunities. Lake Alice is opened to fishing year round, and is stocked with Rainbow Trout. The lake hosts a fair number of Largemouth Bass as well. This is a great place to fish in the early spring before most of the Snoqualmie Valley’s best lakes open in late April.

The Millpond in Snoqualmie

Borst Lake (The Millpond) is located ¼ mile east of downtown Snoqualmie. It is accessible from Millpond Road, where there is ample bank access and a few great places to launch a canoe, kayak or small skiff from the road. The Millpond is a very large and shallow lake that quickly gets choked by lily pads as the water warms in the late spring. This lake offers great Largemouth Bass fishing yet few actually fish here. Borst Lake is opened for fishing year round.

Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend

Rattlesnake Lake is located about six miles south of North Bend, Washington. Access to the lake is from 436th Avenue SE which leads right into Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area, a popular access point for backpackers, day hikers and fishermen. The lake is open year round for catch & release fishing. It is heavily stocked with Rainbow Trout. Expect light crowds as the non-retention and barbless rules have left the lake to a few dedicated anglers, mainly fly fisherman.

Puget Sound Resident Coho Fishing

Puget Sound Resident Coho Fishing


6/26/13 AM
Throughout much of the year we see the salmon runs of Puget Sound return. Each species returns on their own unique schedule but with surprising regularity, much like the ebb and flow of the tides.

Young Coho Salmon are flushed out of our rivers every spring, headed to the rich feeding grounds of the Pacific. While most of these salmon migrate out to the ocean, a fair number of our Puget Sound Coho feed and grow to maturity within our inland sea. These Resident Coho offer a great fishery for the salmon trolling crowds, beach anglers and fly fishermen alike.

Any angler who has ever experienced Coho Salmon fishing in the Pacific during the summer months can testify that the Silver Salmon is arguably the most unrestrained and aggressive feeders we have to fish for; Puget Sound Resident Coho are no different. Wherever Coho feed, they do it with conviction. Schools of Coho will encircle a baitball of Herring and viciously attack until there isn’t a sole survivor, it is this same aggression that allows our ocean-maturing salmon to gain an impressive one pound per week during their final few weeks before returning back to their natal rivers to spawn. While the Puget Sound is rich with forage, Resident Coho tend to be smaller than their ocean feeding cousins. Just as a salmon fisherman in any Pacific fishing port notices that Coho tend to get bigger by the week, Resident Coho also feed heavily and grow fast. Expect 10 to 14 inch Resident Coho in the spring, 1 to 2 pound Resident Coho in June, and chunky 4 to 6 pounders by early fall.

Trolling for Resident Coho in Puget Sound

Trolling can be an extremely productive method to catch these Puget Sound homebodies. Typically, the central Sound offers the best areas to catch Resident Coho, but these fish can be found everywhere to some extent. The preferred set-up for Resident Coho is a small chrome Dodger & small Spoon, Trolling Fly or Plastic Squid. Rig up a 3/0 or 2/0 Dodger with a Luhr Jensen 2” or 3” Needlefish, Goldstar 3” Kingfisher Spoon, Goldstar 2.5” Mini Squid or a Grand Slam Bucktail Mini. I like to use 30 pound leader… about 3 or 4 lengths of the dodger (so about 18” to 24”).

Resident Coho can be found feeding near the shoreline, so trolling close to shore in shallow water can be productive. If you fish nearshore, I find that trolling with no weight or a small ½ or 1 ounce Mooching Sinker is perfect. Downriggers can be a hassle nearshore, but some anglers do very well running their gear down 10 or 15 feet near the shoreline.

Trolling in the traditional salmon fishing areas of Puget Sound can produce great fishing for Resident Coho. Jeff Head, the large shoal just south of Kingston, is the most popular area to target Coho. Run your gear on the surface to as deep as 30 feet in the morning hours, then move deeper by late morning. A slow troll works well, I like to troll at 1 to 2 mph, whatever speed allows your dodger to “dodge” back and forth in the water.

Catching Resident Coho from the Shore

Shorebound anglers catch plenty of Resident Coho throughout the Puget Sound. Catch & Release fishing for Resident Coho and Sea Run Cutthroat Trout can be great from early spring through the summer months. For gear, I like a lightweight rod, but one that is at least 7’ to really get the casting distance. Small Acme Kastmasters and Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoons are perfect for beach fishing, as are PLine Lazer Minnows, Buzz Bombs, or Crippled Herring. Depending on the slope of the beach and the depth of the water, a ¼ ounce spoon to a 1 ounce metal jig will be perfect.

Popular places to find good fishing for Resident Coho are…

Fly Fishing for Puget Sound Resident Coho

Most anglers that fly fish in Puget Sound enjoy the variety of fish available along our beaches and shoreline. At any given time, there is a mix of Resident Coho, Resident Chinook, Sea Run Cutthroat Trout, English Sole and Greenling to be caught. During summer months, the potential to catch a hefty Salmon is a real draw be it a Chinook, Coho, Pink or Chum.

Fly fishing in Puget Sound requires a 6 weight or 7 weight fly rod, a floating flyline for shallow waters and an intermediate sink flyline for deeper waters. I prefer 2x or 3x leaders that can easily turn over the larger, heavier baitfish fly patterns we use to tempt Resident Coho. The trick to fly fishing for Resident Coho is to use fly patterns that mimic the baitfish that they are feeding on. Coho typically cruise the shoreline feeding on Candlefish and small Herring. Baitfish patterns in #2 to #6, in a variety of natural colors will work well. A long distance cast followed by an erratic strip will work well. Just remember, Resident Coho are always on the search for food and are constantly on the move. Locating a school of feeding fish is the most difficult task, once you place a baitfish imitation within sight you will get them!

Areas of Puget Sound are closed to Salmon fishing at times but open to catch & release Sea Run Cutthroat fishing, and Resident Coho are a much desired incidental catch.

Summer is almost here, and the many Puget Sound Resident Coho are just a cast away! Good Luck out there!

Westport Salmon Report June 12

It looks like Mark Coleman has been rocking the Washington Coast this week. With the early Coastal salmon fishing opener this past Saturday June 8th, Mark Coleman lead guide at All Rivers & Saltwater Charters has found the fish! I just got off the phone with Mark, and his on the water report would cause anyone with fishing on the mind to drop everything and head to Westport!

Today the crew aboard All River & Saltwater Charters’ vessel the Reel Tight had a stellar day on the water. The current early season opportunities for clipped salmon are looking very good. Mark reports that overall, they are targeting aggressively feeding ocean Chinook Salmon out of Westport. Fishing has been great South of Westport, and this is yet another year where the salmon are congregating right on the beach. Today, the crew fished with divers & herring just outside of the surfline, and waylayed the fish!

About half of the King Salmon we are catching are wilds, but they sure are fun to Catch & Release. Today the guys hooked and played twenty salmon, we landed sixteen. We’re getting a couple Coho Salmon a day as well, today we kept 7 Hatchery Kings. Yeah, it was good fishing!
-Mark Coleman

If you are looking for a great Charter service out of Westport, Washington I would highly recommend the guys at All Rivers & Saltwater Charters!

ALL RIVERS & SALTWATER CHARTERS WEBSITE

Good luck out there folks!

Skykomish Summer Update June 2013

The Skykomish River’s 2013 fishing season has just begun and even though it’s been less than a week since opening day it has already been a wild ride. From extremely crowded conditions to looking like a ghost town, from few fish for all to quite a few per boat, each day so far has offered quite a few surprises! The Skykomish River is beloved by many Washington anglers, with perfect steelhead runs to deep salmon pools and busy hatchery areas to remote mountain tributaries. This river’s classic fishing holes and proximity to Seattle makes it the crown jewel of Puget Sound river fisheries. So here’s the first report of the 2013 summer season.

Opening day on the Skykomish was a date that will live in infamy. As eager anglers converged on the Skykomish during the pre-dawn hours of Saturday June 1, the parking lot at the Lewis Street boat launch in Monroe and the Sultan boat launch upriver quickly filled to capacity. Dozens of jet sleds hit the water well before first light and raced to their favorite runs, excitement levels were high.

Famous side-drifting areas like Thunderbird, Afternoon Hole and Younkers were choked with jet sleds. The Skykomish River on opening day resembled rush hour on 405. Boats would finish their drift, run up, get back in line at the head of the run, and wait for their turn to rework those fishy drifts. Many fishermen that focused on the section from Monroe up to the Wallace River flats observed a record setting number of boats, I’ve heard that there might have been up to a hundred boats on the Sky on opening day (that number could easily be an exaggeration, but it does paint a vivid picture!). That lower section is open for hatchery Chinook retention as well as summer steelhead retention, thus that is where the masses fished.

Most of my friends that fished opening day on the Skykomish River fished from their jet sleds, they fished in the lower end, and they each reported less than one fish (salmon or steelhead) landed each. When there are a few power boats on the river salmon and steelhead willingly take lures and bait, but with the incessant noise of that many boats? I have my doubts. I personally think that the increased boat traffic could have partially killed the bite, and more boats targeting the same water definitely dilutes the fish-per-boat average.

As the parade of drift boats made their way downriver from the High Bridge in Gold Bar to Sultan, reports were better, with fish to show for it. Only the lower mile of that long upper drift affords a drifter the chance to retain a Chinook, so most of those guys were busy trying to tempt a summer run steelhead. Drift boat anglers reported catching steelhead side drifting cured roe, pulling plugs and sand shrimp/bait divers.

The bank anglers fishing the Reiter Hatchery area reported a fair number of steelhead hooked, with crowded conditions though. Anglers fishing right at the hatchery, across on the highway side or Reiter, at Cable Hole as well as other nearby spots reported a mix of summer runs and late wild winter steelhead. A friend of mine (he’d like to remain anonymous) sent me a pick of a beautiful 39” late winter wild steelhead that they caught and released in the upper river this week. While many of the folks I’ve talked with did well with float/steelhead jigs, a select few of my friends did very well with RVRFSHR Spoons.

After a hectic weekend, the crowds thinned and fishing heated up. Boat traffic returned to a normal level, and several friends of mine saw more consistent catches during the week. Fishing just below the Wallace River produced great catches of summer Chinook, many in the 14-18 pound range. Steelhead and Chinook are a mixed catch when side drifting with cured eggs in the summertime, and many were hooked by the guide boats working the lower Skykomish. As the snowmelt subsides and river conditions improve, fishing should continue to improve as well until mid-July when the Skykomish River drops into its low and clear summer flows.

Get out there while it’s good fishing folks! Good Luck out there!

Crabbing for Dungeness in Westport, Washington

Dungeness Crab are one of the culinary signatures of the Pacific Northwest. They are a delicious delicacy, they are fun to catch, and they are extremely abundant up and down our Pacific Coast. Westport is arguably Washington’s busiest coastal fishing town and a very good place to catch Dungeness Crab. Shorebound anglers and boaters alike enjoy easy catches in Westport, Washington. Whether dropping a few crab pots along the coastline on your way offshore to salmon fish or spending a weekend with the family on the docks, you can get in on this great fishery.

Catching Dungeness Crab without a boat…

Shorebound crabbers will find plenty of options in Westport, Washington from the jetties to the boat basin. The Westport Boat Basin is by far the most popular spot for land-lubbers looking to catch Dungeness Crab. The most popular place to drop crab rings is off Float 20, which is located on the northwest corner of the basin and is accessed from Neddie Rose Drive (Neddie Rose Drive begins at the western end of the basin at The Islander and dead-ends at the parking lot for Float 20). Float 20 is often vacant of boats, leaving plenty of space for anyone looking to try their luck with Dungies. Float 20 is very close to the entrance of the basin, and many crabs will push into the marina from Grays Harbor, offering a better chance at keeper size crab than on other floats.

Within the Westport Boat Basin, crab rings are preferred to pots. Rings only need to soak for a mere 20 minutes since they lay flat on the bottom; nearby Dungeness simply tap dance over to the bait and begin the feast, whereas longer soak times are required when using traps/pots (Crab need time to work their way around the pot to find the entrance). Many of the shops and charter offices along the main street (Westhaven Drive) offer daily rentals of crab rings. Float 20 offers the only access to the high pier, where anglers catch flounder, greenling and rockfish. I like to throw my rings off the ramp to the high pier, or toss them away from the float just before that. While Dungeness Crab will eat nearly anything, I have found that there is no better crab bait than a filleted out Black Sea Bass, this will usually out produce chicken, turkey legs or anything else! I find that a perfect day in Westport begins with a few hours fishing for Rockfish (Sea Bass) and Lingcod at the Westport Jetty, followed by a few hours of crabbing in the basin with the carcasses from my catch. Expect to throw back plenty of small Dungeness before you find a few keepers, but that is all to be expected in an area that is so heavily fished.

The high pier at the end of Float 20 is popular with anglers but Dungeness Crab can also be caught here. While the rocky rip-rap wall at the base of the pier has claimed many a Crab Ring, those with Crab Snares or Castable Crab Traps do very well casting into Grays Harbor. The Finger Jetties off the west side of Neddie Rose Drive are also a great area to use snares and castable traps.

The Westport Jetty is one of my favorite places to crab from shore. I have found that the distant half of the Jetty offers a shore crabber access to a little deeper water, which usually equates to an abundance of larger Dungeness. While I have done well casting Crab Snares on the Harbor side of the Jetty, if the Ocean side is calm enough, I have found greater success getting a limit.

Dungeness Crab in the Pacific Ocean

Westport has long been home to a thriving commercial crabbing fleet. Many of the finest restaurants in the West Coast’s major cities order their Dungeness Crab from local fishermen. And any boaters trying to cross the Grays Harbor Bar will find themselves carefully watching for commercial crab buoys as they make their way to the open ocean. Crabbing in the ocean can be productive at times, and at other times is not. Westport’s commercial crabbing fleet hits the entrance to Grays Harbor hard! If I were planning on setting a few crab pots in the ocean, I would make sure it was in an area away from the sea of bobbing commercial buoys; while there are plenty of Dungeness in the Pacific I feel that there are certain areas that get picked clean if everyone is fishing nearby. Look for an area completely void of commercial buoys. Ocean currents can be extremely strong, so weighted crab pots are essential. Weighting a pot with 10 or 15 pounds should do the trick. Allow at least a few hours of soak time before retrieving. Most folks who crab in the Pacific near Westport will drop their pots, fish for the day, then pull pots on their way back to port. There’s nothing like a few limits of tasty Dungeness Crab to top off a great day of fishing!

Dungeness Crab in Grays Harbor

Boaters looking to find Dungeness Crab within Grays Harbor should focus on the area around the Ocean Shores and Westport Jetties. The entrance to Grays Harbor is bordered by two large rock jetties and the deep channel between the two offers plenty of Dungeness Crab. I haven’t noticed a huge difference in success rate between the northern side near Ocean Shores or the southern side near Westport. Most boaters will just drop their pots in a convenient location to where they moor/launch. Crabbers will notice that the water gets real deep real quick near the Westport Jetty, and most crab buoys end up just out of casting distance from Jetty bound anglers. Most crabbers drop their pots in 30 to 60 feet of water. There is a huge volume of water that moves through the entrance to Grays Harbor during each tide, so heavier pots are critical.

Good Luck on your next crabbing adventure!

Express Westport Lingcod & Rockfish

Whenever you’ve found a fishing spot where the fishing is fun and the catching is great, you know you’ve found something special. I’ve been filling in as a deckhand on the Reel Tight out of Westport, Washington. We are currently fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish, just like the rest of the charter fleet. Unlike the Westport Charter fleet, we are running a speedy 29’ Defiance boat and are offering Express trips. While the Reel Tight seems just as speedy as any private sport boat, it is quite a bit faster than any of the other Charters in the Westport fleet. We often will be out fishing for an hour before we notice the first of the traditional charter boats bobbing on the horizon, headed our way.

Fishing for Lingcod and Rockfish today was nothing short of amazing! We cruised out quickly, with less than a four foot swell. Ian and I decided to alter our tackle a bit for this trip, instead of fishing double shrimp flies, we opted for a shrimp fly rigged above a large swimbait. We have been fishing a few select rockpiles and reefs north of Westport, and just knew there were Lingcod to be had at our favorite Rockfish spots.

Ian positioned the vessel for our first drift. Sure enough, our intuitions about Lingcod were correct! Scott was the first to lower his gear down, and WHAM! Fish on! And look… a ten pound Lingcod bit the swimbait and a four pound Black Rockfish bit the shrimp fly. Gotta love doubles! Then David hooked up, then Dale, then Tom, then Dale again, and before I could jump over the pile of Lingcod on the deck to net David’s second Ling, in looked over to witness Scott set the hook on another monster! We were in a fast paced bite for sure.

The weather was fine heading out, but Ian had been paying close attention to the weather forecast, which was quickly turning. We were able to make two final drifts, yielding up a pile of Black Rockfish and quite a few more Lingcod, then we were forced to call it a day and race back to Port. The final count for the day was 11 Lingcod and 30 Black Rockfish. Our swimbait program paid huge dividends, as our average size for Lingcod was easily twice that compared to the hauls of offshore fish. Although we only fished for two hours before having to bag it due to weather, the phenomenal pace of catching was enough to produce some happy clients. It was a great day to be fishing as the action could not have been faster, but we called it at the right time and headed back to Port before the bar was closed.

Spot Shrimp & Sunburns

Day Two of our two day Spot Shrimp season! With such a huge haul of Spot Shrimp on Saturday, how could we not hit it again on Wednesday! While we ended up with a cooler full of Spot Shrimp we didn’t quite reach our limits, and although our hunt for live bait was more than successful, our hope to live bait a Lingcod was not, but oh the fun we had! With a boat full of longtime friends, how could a guy not have a phenomenal time?

Ryan, Ian & I met Todd down at North Marina in Everett and off we went. We headed to Gedney Island and hovered for a bit while we waited for the 7am opening. Cruising around that 250 foot contour line: Pot One down! Pot Two down! Pot Three down! Pot Four down!

The tidal exchange Wednesday was extreme, but we were prepared. When you are shrimping in an area that has a lot of water movement you need to worry about two things…

1.) Heavy currents that push against the shrimp lines can cause your pot to drift into deeper water .

2.) Heavy currents that push against the shrimp lines can pull your buoy underwater for a period of time, making a pot impossible to find let alone pull.

But with the proper equipment including heavy pots and large buoys, there is usually no cause for concern.

In between sets we headed over to collect some live bait for Lingcod fishing. We anchored in about 30 feet near the East Gedney Green Buoy. Sand Dabs & Sole were easy to catch. Ian was using a tandem white Crappie jig and was out fishing Ryan & my shrimp by a margin of 2 to 1. With a dozen baits swimming in our makeshift livewell, we were prepared for Lings.

After another round of pulling and setting pots, we headed for the reef. There is a large artificial reef on the southern side of Gedney, but being a week into the Lingcod season, it was a little fished out. We managed to entice several aggressive Lingcod, each one ravaged the bait and clamped down. Lings rarely hook themselves when attacking a live bait, yet they will hold on all the way to the surface and hopefully will be netted. When reeling one up, it is essential to keep the Lingcod from breaking surface; once they feel the waterline they immediately spook, drop the bait and say bon voyage. We couldn’t get any of our hooked Lings to hold on, and each one was lost midway to the surface. I think it was the intense sunlight that made landing a Ling nearly impossible, but who knows.

We ended up making 4 sets with 4 pots for a grand total of 250 Spot Shrimp (our potential limit was 320, but man I can’t complain with our haul!), we hooked 5 Lings and lost every single one. I am going to sit down and rethink my Live Bait set-up, back to the drawing board for now!

Wednesday was the final day for the 2013 Puget Sound season on Spot Shrimp, but there are a few more days available in Hood Canal & San Juan Islands, if you can get over there have a great day and enjoy this awesome May weather!

Shrimping with Friends in Everett May 2013

Saturday was our very first chance at Spot Shrimp here in Puget Sound Country. We are blessed with such tasty critters thriving in our local waters, even if we only have two days each year to catch them. Spot Shrimp are one of the most delicious shellfish I’ve experienced. They are a large coldwater shrimp that has the sweetest flavor, some call them Puget Sound Lobsters. The harvest is not for the weak or ill-prepared, heavy pots with long leaded lines must be deployed and pulled from over 200 feet of water. I had the pleasure of joining friends out on the Sound for opening day.

We met at the Everett Marina at 6 am and loaded our food, camera and shrimping gear. The journey out of the marina was akin to Monday morning rush hour. Boats merged from their slips into the steady stream of vessels all headed out after Spot Shrimp.

Our season is short. We have just a few days to harvest this year, and although the limit may seem very generous at 80 Spot Shrimp per person, they are such a treat that most of us shrimpers find that a few meals is all it takes to exhaust the stockpile. While it may appear to be a lot of work for a few meals, I find the whole process of baiting, setting, pulling, sorting, cleaning (and yes then consuming) to be rewarding and enjoyable.

We headed due west from the marina, to the southern side of Gedney Island. There is a large flat expanse just south of the island, and the steep drop off on the edge was where we would find the Shrimp. This is a popular spot and very well known, so we were not alone. We baited out pots and waited for the official start: 7am. With only eight hours before all pots must be out of the water, we wasted no time. Captain Todd has been shrimping for about 12 years, and has pretty much figured out what works and what does not. He also knows that time is not on our side, especially with six people on board and a goal of six limits, or 480 shrimp.

Todd deployed the first pot about fifteen seconds after 7am. Like I said, he’s figured out what works, and wasting time does not. We cruised the edge of the drop off, setting pots at 225 feet to 280 feet. Our fourth and final pot was soaking before 7:30am, and we began our very first pull by 8am. We have always given two hours soak time before pulling pots, but Todd wanted to experiment with shorter soak times… it paid off big time. It was an interesting concept; while longer soaks allow for shrimp to be drawn from a greater distance, how far would a shrimp be willing to travel away from his burrow to find food? If soaking pots for only an hour worked, we would be able to double the amount of sets, meaning that pots set in an unproductive place would be moved quicker.

Well, we made our first pull, and the shorter soak time worked out in our favor. We had two limits from our first pull! We pulled, re-baited and reset pots a total of 4 times before the deadline. Some pot pulls yielded zero, others yielded almost a full limit. As the afternoon winds kicked up, maneuvering the 29’ vessel with buoys and boats everywhere was a challenge, but doable. We worked great as a team, Robin played deckhand, Todd manned the puller, and Wayne & I took turns piloting.

While it might seem unimpressive to get in 4 pulls for 4 pots in 8 hours, the pulling takes time, baiting takes time, searching for an open place among the sea of bobbing boats and buoys takes time. Our very last pot yielded us about 25 Spot Shrimp, bringing the grand total to 437: shy of six limits but impressive nonetheless! A great day on the water, lots of fun with friends, and plenty of tasty Spot Shrimp to bring home to the family!

Here are a few pics of our day out, hope you enjoy em! I will be heading out for Wednesday with Todd and a smaller crew, so we will have a little time to try our luck at Lingcod fishing as well 

Spring Fishing Thoughts

Spring does not make a great first impression here in the Pacific Northwest. She always teases us with a beautifully warm weekend early in the month of April. We blissfully fill our spring schedule with springtime activities like planting the garden, dusting off the patio furniture and preparing the boat, ready for a warm weather paradise that will stretch clear into fall. But every year, she catches us off guard. Overnight frosts that kill our fragile little garden starts, weeks of gray rain laden clouds, and heavy seas that dash our fishing plans. And although spring toys with our emotions, depriving us of that much needed sunshine we have oh so missed, fair weather eventually arrives. Us folks here in the upper left hand corner of the country know how to capitalize on the short summer we do have. And if you fish, you know that it is merely a struggle to choose how to manage your time, our options are many. My interests usually steer me toward the Sound.

As spring approaches, we have so many great places to fish that it is only the limiting factor of time that forces us to pick and choose our favorites. I am always eager for April’s Razor Clams, Coastal Lingcod and Hometown Trout.

I find myself beaming with joy at the chance to head west and enjoy our early morning clam digs on the beach. As folks step onto the sand at Long Beach, Grayland, Ocean Shores and Copalis, the amount of great enjoyment seen in the smiles of so many really shows how a little trip to the coast can wipe away the memory of a wet and dark winter.

A chance to fish for Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific is one I won’t miss, and every spring I make a concerted effort to head to Westport. I think it is an amazing opportunity we have, to hop on a Charter and explore the open ocean, and to carry home fillets from a dozen healthy bottomfish for under a hundred dollars.

As April surrenders to May, that final weekend is one of many firsts. I should say, many first fish. Hundreds of thousands of folks grab the tackle box and poles and head to their local lakes. It is an impressive feat to stock thousands of lakes across Washington with millions of trout, but the state does that to give families the chance to enjoy easy fishing near home. Many lakes are stocked well, and fishing can remain good into early summer, but that first weekend is a real slam dunk. The fish might not always be the biggest, but they bring a lot of joy and create plenty of memories for young anglers.

The rule book is mailed out and immediately every boat owner in Seattle has requested time off to go shrimping. Our Sound has a great abundance of Spot Shrimp, but the popularity of the fishery allows for only a few shrimping days a year, lest we over harvest our tasty resource. A Saturday here, a Wednesday there and it seems that it ended as quickly as it began. But the resource managers know that it takes a lot of work to go shrimping, so when it is open, we each get a healthy limit of 80.

Just as folks are readying their shrimping gear in anticipation, Halibut and Lingcod seasons open up in marine areas from Astoria to Bellingham to Olympia. May is a heyday for fishermen in the state, and the chance to keep Lingcod one day, Spot Shrimp the next and Halibut the day after that keeps us plenty busy. So even though the Great Northwest is defined by Salmon, us fishermen have plenty to keep us preoccupied before they arrive. Good luck out there!

Puget Sound Pink Salmon Fishing 2013

Puget Sound’s calm waters will soon be invaded by millions of Pink Salmon, the Northwest’s diamond in the rough. The 2013 Pink Salmon forecast is one of the best on record, with an estimated 6,229,129 fish headed back to Puget Sound rivers and streams this summer.

As these Humpy Salmon march towards their natal streams, they will saturate every popular fishing area in the Sound and create the greatest fishing opportunity our region has to offer!

Pink Salmon are the most abundant of the Pacific Salmon species, they are also the smallest. Humpies average only five pounds, but what they lack in size they make up for in willingness to take a lure. The Pink Salmon is on a strict 2 year life cycle, meaning that we only see this massive return of salmon on odd numbered years (example: 2013, 2015, 2017). Several rivers in Washington do have a Humpy run on even numbered years, but in much smaller numbers. The mild flavor of a Pink Salmon fillet appeals to many who dislike the stronger flavors of the King, Sockeye or Silver Salmon.

The majority of Puget Sound’s Pinks return to rivers in the Central Sound. The Skagit River, Snohomish River system, Green River and Puyallup River are the areas greatest producers of Pink Salmon. Historically, the Skagit River, Stillaguamish River and Snohomish River were Puget Sound powerhouses for Pink Salmon production. Oddly enough, yet to the glee of many anglers the Green River went from a Pink Salmon run of several thousand to well over one million within a few life cycles. The same phenomenon is happening to the Nisqually River at the extreme southern end of Puget Sound, we have never experienced such a strong return to the Nisqually, with a forecasted return of over 700,000 Pink Salmon.

Expect a strong season for Pink Salmon here in the Sound. As the millions of Humpies return, phenomenal fishing will first occur near the entrance to the Straits at Neah Bay & Sekiu, a week later Port Angeles anglers will witness great catches, followed by the beach anglers fishing West Whidbey Island and by mid to late August, the Central Sound will be chalk full of Humpies (and boats). Throughout the season anglers will chase the fish as they return and eventually the action will shift from saltwater to river, as the season gradually draws to a close.

Nature only affords us this amazing fishing opportunity every other year. Take advantage of great fishing when it is here, for as long as it lasts!

North Puget Sound Pink Salmon Forecast 2013

  • Nooksack River (Bellingham, Wa): 154,075
  • Skagit River (Mount Vernon, Wa): 1,230,376
  • Stillaguamish River (Arlington, Wa): 409,700

Central Puget Sound Pink Salmon Forecast 2013

  • Snohomish River (Everett, Wa & Monroe, Wa): 988,621
  • Green River (Seattle, Wa): 1,352,362
  • Puyallup River (Tacoma, Wa): 1,240,854

South Puget Sound Pink Salmon Forecast 2013

  • Nisqually River (olympia, Wa): 764,937
  • South Sound Misc: 765

Hood Canal Pink Salmon Forecast 2013

  • Hood Canal: 55,314

Strait of Juan de Fuca Pink Salmon Forecast 2013

  • Straits: 32,125

You might like these Pink Salmon Fishing articles…

BEST LURES FOR PINK SALMON FISHING IN RIVERS

TROLLING FOR HUMPY SALMON

PINK SALMON FISHING AT DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK

SKYKOMISH RIVER FISHING SPOTS

Best Lures for Catching Pink (Humpy) Salmon in Rivers

Pink Salmon are a very popular catch for many Pacific Coast fishermen. Here in the Puget Sound region, we see huge returns every odd numbered year (example: 2013, 2015, 2017). There are a few really productive lures that catch Pinks (Humpies) with amazing effectiveness!

This article is designed to give you an advantage as you prepare for your next Humpy Salmon fishing trip! Good luck!

Dick Nite Spoons

A crowd favorite on select Pacific Northwest rivers, these tiny lightweight spoons have a tantalizing flutter that drives Pink Salmon wild! Drift Fish them or Cast & Retrieve, these lures work very well from tidewater to upper river areas.

P Line Humpy Jig

One of my personal favorites! A great lure for not only saltwater beach fishing but also in the tidally influenced lower stretches of our Pink Salmon rivers, this lure works great. The P Line Humpy Jig is a painted metal jig that is designed to attract all salmon species, but has worked very well for Pinks. This lure comes in a variety of color combinations, and I especially like the smaller Humpy Jigs when Pinks are a little squeamish. These lures are available from ½ oz up to 2 oz.

Plunking for Pink Salmon

Grab a few hooks, swivels, pink Spin & Glos and your favorite bait and hit the lower river! As Humpies migrate up through the lower stretches of their rivers, many plunkers using this simple method to catch their limits. Use enough lead to keep your lure stationary in the current. Tip the hook with either raw prawn or a sand shrimp tail.

Brads Wiggler & Lil Wiggler

Brads Wigglers and Lil Wigglers are great fished from a boat or retrieved towards the bank. These are a great alternative to the staple lures and methods. Any metallic or solid pink color options are very productive.

Aero Jig Marabou

These 1/8 oz and ¼ oz Steelhead jigs are deadly effective for Humpies. Pink, White or Pink/White color patterns are all great!

Buzz Bomb

The grand-daddy of all salmon fishing lures. Small Buzz Bombs work well in the slow, deep, tidal stretches of the lower Skagit, Snohomish and Stillaguamish, as well as along Puget Sound beaches.

Wordens Maxi Jig

This is one of the newest high quality Steelhead jigs on the market. These jigs are best fished under a float, or twitched with light tackle rods. Maxi Jigs are available in a variety of Humpy catching combinations of pink, white and red. High quality Owner hooks are ultra sharp, so don’t worry about that!

Pink Worm Jig

Grab a pack of 3 inch or 4 inch Steelhead Worms and a pack of ¼ oz or 3/8 oz Jigheads and you have an inexpensive and very effective Humpy lure. Just thread a Pink Worm on a pink or white Jighead, simple as that! The waggin tail of a Steelhead Worm is sure to catch the attention of nearby Pink Salmon.

Hoochie Jigs

Similar to the Pink Worm Jig, the Hoochie Jig is often premade but offers a very durable and effective option for river fishing. If you are making your own, add a small drop of super glue to the shank of the Jighead hook before threading on the Hoochie squid.

I wish you all the greatest success on your next Pink Salmon fishing trip, and hopefully these lures produce many daily limits for you, friends and family!

Lingcod Jetty Fishing in Washington

Many Washington State anglers are thrilled with the abundance of Lingcod fishing spots our saltwater areas have to offer. Whether it is in the Pacific Ocean, the San Juan Islands or Puget Sound, each year anglers just can’t wait to get out and boat their first Lingcod of the season. But what if you don’t own a boat? Fret not my shorebound friend! Washington offers a few jetties and public piers where boatless anglers can catch Lingcod.

I have spent a fair amount of time hunting the infamous Lingcod from shore, and I have a few tips and hotspots to share with you!

Jetty Fishing Spots for Lingcod

Jetties are manmade rock formations that are built at the entrance to many Washington coastal waterways. They provide excellent habitat for many species of fish, including Lingcod. A jetty can be a treacherous place during storms, but during fair-weather many anglers travel to our jetties to catch Lingcod, Rockfish, Sea Perch and Salmon.

Columbia River North Jetty

The North Jetty is located on the north shore of the Columbia River near Ilwaco, Washington. It is located in Cape Disappointment State Park, yet the fishing here is anything but disappointing. Most of the Jetty is composed of extremely large rocks, and just getting to a good fishing spot is an adventure within itself. Anglers catch Black Rockfish year round, but Lingcod are caught with shocking regularity from Spring through early Fall. Salmon are caught from the Jetty throughout the summer months.

Westport Jetty

The Westport Jetty is located on the southern entrance to Grays Harbor in Westport, Washington. This Jetty is accessible from Westhaven State Park. This is Washington’s most popular jetty and for good reason. It is the closest to Seattle and Tacoma. It is fairly easy to access plus fishing can be phenomenal.

Anglers catch Lingcod here with ease, along with limits of Black Rockfish, Greenling and Surf Perch. A few fishermen bring home good catches of King and Silver Salmon in late Summer, when salmon flood past the jetty to reach Grays Harbor rivers.

Hiking on the Westport Jetty is less treacherous than the North Columbia Jetty; families & older fisherman walk out and fish the first half of the jetty. The extreme end of the Jetty is difficult to get to with larger boulders to climb over, but many die-hard anglers make their way to the end. The end of the Jetty offers great fishing for all species.

While most anglers focus on the Harbor side of the Jetty for Lings, Greenling & Rockfish, I have also caught them on the Ocean side when the waves are not too dangerous.

La Push Jetty

The jetty at La Push is located at the mouth of the Quillayute River about ten miles west of Forks, Washington. This Jetty is right in the fishing village of La Push within the boundaries of the Quillayute Indian Reservation. This Jetty is located in some of the most remote stretches of coastline, with the best bottomfish populations found in our state. Lingcod, Black Rockfish, Greenling and Salmon are caught from the jetty. Consult the tribal office for required permits or tribal licenses.

Neah Bay Jetty

Many decades ago, as strong seas threatened the native village of Neah Bay, Waadah Island offered the only protection to the harbor and town. A jetty was eventually built connecting Waadah to the mainland, and provides more protection for the harbor. This Jetty offers great fishing for Rockfish and Greenling. While the water here is fairly shallow, it can offer fairly good catches of Lingcod. The jetty is located on the Makah Indian Reservation, and tribal fishing license is required.

Jetty Fishing Tackle for Lingcod

My favorite lures to use for jetty Lingcod are Jigheads & Soft Plastics. Losing tackle is just a part of the jetty fishing experience. As your lure is retrieved, it can easily get snagged on the submerged rocks. Jigheads & Soft Plastics are inexpensive yet they work very well. I will always carry a variety of Jigheads and different colors and sizes of Soft Plastics. I would say a variety of ½ oz – 4 oz Jigheads will cover any scenario, I seem to use more 1 oz – 2 oz than anything, but I also use braided lines. Braided line is thinner, therefore there is less resistence, and lighter Jigheads can sink quickly. If you use monofilament line, heavier Jigheads might be needed.

Fishing with Live Bait is also a popular method used to catch Lingcod from our jetties. Bring a Bait-Fishing Setup and catch a few smaller fish, whether they be small Greenling, Flounder, Perch or Sculpin. While Live-Bait fishing on the jetty can be a little challenging, most successful Ling fishermen I have seen will use a large slip float, a 1 oz sinker and a double hook set-up. It is very difficult to estimate depth from shore, so a sliding float with no stopper is perfect. The live bait will struggle to the bottom and hopefully a nearby Lingcod will capitalize on an easy meal!

I have also caught Lingcod using a whole Herring rigged under a float, but have had more luck with Soft Plastics myself. Probably because I use them more often!

Jetty Fishing Tips for Lingcod

  1. Safety First! There are many factors that can create hazardous conditions on our jetties. Always check weather, surf, bar, and marine forecasts before heading out. I always check tides, wind direction, swell height & direction, and surf condition.
  2. Tides: Spring Tides, where there is extreme highs & lows, can make for tough fishing. You can still do very well around the slack tide, but I prefer to fish softer tides where there is less tidal flow.
  3. Tackle: Bring more than you think you need. You will lose plenty of gear to snags. If I think I might lose 6 Jigheads in an afternoon, I will plan on bringing 6 of each size. If 1 oz. Jigheads are fishing perfect, you don’t want to only have a few!
  4. Line: Braided line is great because it has zero stretch and is very thin, but it isn’t as durable as monofilament. Braid can easily get frayed on sharp rocks and barnacles. Lingcod have very sharp teeth and can easily sheer through 40# Braid. If you plan to fish braided line, at least use a heavy 20# to 40# monofilament leader.
  5. Measuring Device: Lingcod have a size restriction (can vary from year to year or place to place). Make sure you carry something to measure potential keepers.
  6. If you aren’t catching fish in an area…experiment with lures. If that doesn’t work, move a little ways.

2013 Puget Sound Lingcod Season

Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) through 13 (South Puget Sound) is open to Lingcod Fishing from May 1 to June 15. Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) is CLOSED.

Daily Limit: 1
Min Size: 26 inches
Max Size: 36 inches

Fishing for bottomfish is prohibited in waters deeper than 120 feet.

HOOD CANAL CLOSED TO LINGCOD FISHING THIS YEAR.

As always, please read the OFFICIAL REGULATIONS thoroughly before fishing!

2013 Puget Sound Lingcod

Puget Sound Lingcod Season

May 1 to June 15

Daily Limit

1

Slot Limit

26 inches to 36 inches

Depth Restrictions

120 feet

Be safe out there, and good luck everyone!

Andrew Moravec

Neah Bay Lingcod Fishing

Neah Bay and the North Coast offer some for the most fantastic Lingcod fishing in Washington State. The rocky coastline features pinnacles, cliffs, rock piles and reefs that host an unbelievable population of Lingcod, Sea Bass and other bottom fish. While many lingcod fishermen leave port and journey through the narrow passage between Tatoosh Island & Cape Flattery to reach the Pacific Ocean, even more fisherman with smaller boats enjoy great fishing inside of the entrance near Neah Bay in the Straits. Neah Bay offers so many places to catch everything from Greenling to Cabezon to Lingcod to Salmon that many fishermen make the trip every year, exploring the area and finding new fishing spots.

Neah Bay Lingcod Fishing

Lingcod inhabit the rocky structure that is so common to the North Coast. Practically every nook, cranny and crevice of the coastline has the potential to host Lingcod. Some of my favorite Ling spots are around the larger pinnacles and exposed rocks just off shore. One of the benefits of a Neah Bay Lingcod trip is that if you choose, you can fish these aggressive fish in less than 60 feet of water! Some of my largest near shore Lings have been caught near Strawberry Rock, Duncan Rock, Father & Son, Seal Rock & Sail Rock.

While there is an endless amount of nearshore structure to fish, there are also many extremely large Lingcod are taken in the deep sea near the edge of the continental shelf. Many deepwater enthusiasts focus on Lingcod before the ever popular Halibut fishing season opens in Neah Bay & La Push.

Lingcod Fishing in the Straits

While Lingcod fishing is popular near every town along the Juan de Fuca Strait, Neah Bay’s inside area (Marine Area 4B) has traditionally offered a longer season. From the entrance to the Pacific near Cape Flattery eastward to Sail Rock, the entire shoreline looks like textbook Lingcod habitat. Lings love rocky structure, and this area has it in spades. Fishing near kelp beds or reefs can produce great catches of Lings. When I fish the inside for Lingcod, I target rocky structure at depths of 25 to 70 feet. Folks with smaller boats that are keen on the weather can enjoy some great days fishing in this area. Even the northern shoreline of Waadah Island, which protects the marina, can offer up some stellar Lingcod and Rockfish fishing.

I typically use Swimbaits or Berkley Gulp Grubs when targeting Lingcod in shallow water. Stock up on lead jigheads between 1 oz. to 6 oz. for fishing the Straits or around the corner on the Pacific Coast. Many anglers will agree with me; there is something about Berkley Gulp Curly Tail Grubs that drive Lingcod crazy! Grab a couple packs before your next Lingcod trip.

Kayak Fishing for Lings

A few very talented kayak anglers fish the kelp beds and reefs around Waadah Island near the entrance to Neah Bay harbor. Seal Rock and Sail Rock are a short paddle from Snow Creek Resort that are a kayak anglers dream! Kelp beds, and a reef surround the two islands. There is a reef just east of the beach at Snow Creek Resort that would be perfect for kayak anglers!

Lingcod Fishing along the Pacific Coast

The open coastline can be more treacherous than the Straits, but this remote area is some of the most breathtaking shoreline in the United States. Rocky spires thrust up hundreds of feet above the crashing surf. Marine mammals and multitudes of sea birds thrive here on that boundary between temperate rainforests and open ocean. Boaters looking for Lingcod structure must be on high alert, ocean swells can force a vessel on exposed rocks. I prefer to look for structure away from Wash Rocks. These are the rocks that are so close to the surface that, while they may be difficult to spot, can cause severe hull damage if struck. Look for open areas with over a reef, ledge or rock pile that causes no potential danger.

There are many reefs outside from Makah Bay just south of Cape Flattery, near Strawberry Rock. My favorite shoreline Lingcod spot is Umatilla Reef, just off Cape Alava. The area around Spike Rock and Father & Son Rock are also productive. I cannot stress safety enough out here! As a good friend of mine once said, a Buddy Boat can be your salvation, should you get into trouble. Find another like-minded angler and plan a trip together.

Deep Sea Lingcod Fishing

Many of the offshore areas offer that rocky habitat that Lingcod call home. Deepwater Lings seem to be larger out here, it might be due to the fact that little fish don’t stay uneaten for long out here. This is big fish country. Barndoor Halibut, monster Yelloweye Rockfish and big Bucketmouth Lingcod own the turf in the deepwater reefs and banks that border the continental shelf. While deepwater fisheries in Washington have been limited to protect slow-to-mature Rockfish species, we still have a shot at targeting these monsters of the deep.

So where are the prime offshore Lingcod spots? Most Charter operators and die-hard Lingers will take that information to the grave, but if you are friendly enough, maybe even book a trip you can get at least the coordinates to a few honey holes. The Rockpile near La Push, the Southern boundary of the C –Closure and Tabletop are a few offshore locations that come to mind as being productive for Lingcod.

Large metal jigs and copper pipe jigs are perfect for these open ocean Lingcod.

Neah Bay Fishing Seasons

Check the current Washington State Fishing Regulation Pamphlet for Neah Bay seasons, they are subject to change. Be aware that there are certain depth restrictions as well as marine preserves closed to bottomfishing.

Neah Bay Lingcod Fishing Tips

  1. Be aware of any depth restrictions in place, and do not fish in closed waters.
  2. Do not assume that every dangerous rock is marked on your electronic chart, proceed with caution when fishing near the coastline.
  3. Keeping small Lingcod early in the day might mean you miss the opportunity to keep a trophy later in the day.
  4. Rockfish often do not survive after they are released. Target Lings first, as you will incidentally catch a few Rockfish. Finish up your Lingcod Limit, then go for your Rockfish limit!
  5. Most folks that make the drive out to Neah Bay plan on spending at least a few days fishing. Be aware that there is a limit of how many days worth of fish you can have in your possession.
  6. Always have a measuring device with you, just in case you decide to keep a fish close to the size limit.
  7. If you are interested in fishing from shore within the boundary of the Makah Reservation, you need a tribal fishing license.
  8. Lingcod have sharp teeth, so make sure to use very heavy mono leader.

Neah Bay Charter Boats

JAMBOS SPORTFISHING

EXCEL FISHING CHARTERS

BIG SALMON RESORT

Neah Bay Lodging, Services & Attractions

There are plenty of lodging options in the Neah Bay area.

Neah Bay offers a grocery, convenience store, showers at the marina, tribal office, museum, coffee shop and restaurant. Big Salmon Resort manages the marina and offers coffee, hot breakfasts and a great selection of fishing tackle.

Neah Bay is a virtual outdoor playground. Surfers travel here to catch some of the biggest waves in Washington State. Campers enjoy some of the most scenic campgrounds. Hikers explore Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach. Divers flood into Neah Bay to seek out the most fantastic spear fishing in the Northwest.


View Neah Bay Lingcod in a larger map