We spent another day fishing off the Washington Coast, searching for salmon and finding a few and exploring the remote inshore reefs near Point Grenville near Tahola, it was a great day.
Our crew was a pretty lively group, they were a fun bunch that were a pleasure to take out.
Our primary goal was to find a few Hatchery Chinook, which have been somewhat challenging to locate out here at Westport. Most of the reports from both the commercial trollers and the charter boats have been mediocre at best. The opener for the early mark-selective Chinook fishery was pretty good, and a few boats did well, but since then it has been a little bleak. Everyone has been fishing close to the beach, either the South Beach between the jetty and Grayland, or the North Beach from the jetty to the Quinault Beach Casino. We headed north, hopeful that we could find a few feeding salmon.
Trolling in the morning was a little slow. Scratch that – it sucked. Regardless of the lack of action, the crew was in good spirits and had a blast. Chris whipped out his phone and we blasted ACDC from his Pandora app, we joked around, told stories, and just flat out enjoyed ourselves. They we got bit! We battled a healthy Chinook to the net, checked for an adipose, found one, and released it. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to keep it, but it was nice to see the beautiful specimen. After a full morning of trolling around, we headed north to explore some of the finest inshore bottomfish structure around.
Fishing around the rockpiles near Point Grenville was fantastic. Winds and currents were light near the shore, so we drifted around the structure just as planned. Occasionally, the winds will push the boat faster that is preferred and fishing can be tough; you just move too fast to fish well, but not today. Today was good.
We loaded up on Black Sea Bass, which are a real thrill to catch. These feisty three to four pound fish jump at the chance to scarf down small swimbaits or shrimp flies. We typically rig up a double hook rig with either a lower swimbait-upper shrimp fly or a double shrimp fly set up, both seem to catch plenty. While I always think that the Lingcod prefer larger baits, but many of the Lingcod that we catch out here mainly feed on smaller Anchovies… so catching a ten pound Ling on a shrimp fly isn’t out of the question. We kept five Lingcod, one of which was a real monster, probably in the twenty pound class. Chris caught that one and was really pleased with it.
Once we had a good number of Lingcod and our limits (sixty) of Black Sea Bass, we headed back to the South. On the way back, Captain Ian saw a number of birds feeding on top of what seemed like a large amount of bait, so we stopped. Seas were calm, and it was a perfect day to clean our catch of Rockfish and Lingcod, while working the Herring/Diver gear for a possible last-minute salmon bite.
Our last ditch effort to put a salmon in the boat paid off. Big Time. Just as I began to fillet our Rockfish, one of the rods buried from a salmon grab. Fish on! We cleared a nearby rod, left everything else fishing, and raced around each other trying to get the net ready, keep the lines cleared, and keep the fish on. Scoop. Hatchery fish. Yes!
Within the hour, we had one hook-up after the next. We landed our first hatchery fish right off the bat, then the second, then the third, and finally once we had all the rods fishing, on to the fourth! Chris grabbed the rod and the chaos that ensued was most accurately described as a fire drill. Once again, we were dealing with a tough fighting Chinook, and once I scooped it up with the net, there was a sigh of relief that we got it, then once we saw that we could keep it (hatchery fish), we were stoked!
As soon as I lifted the salmon into the boat, Ian gave everyone notice to reel up. Then we heard Al from the stern yell, “NO WAY!” I looked over and his rod was doubled over… Fish on again! I didn’t even have time to clear our last fish from the net, and we were dealing with a thrashing Chinook about ten feet behind the boat. We scrambled, Al fought the good fight, and in the net went our fifth hatchery Chinook of the day! We were on cloud nine!
Both the captain and I had a good feeling about fishing the afternoon for a bit, but neither of us truly expected such a drastic change in fishing action from the morning. It was awesome. We stayed out longer than normal but it was well worth it. With five salmon in the box to show for our efforts, we decided to call it a good day.
We headed back to port with a fish hold full of sixty Black Rockfish, five Lingcod and five Hatchery Chinook Salmon. It was epic fishing, calm seas and clear skies, and a fun crew, all of which I hope to fish with again. Good job guys!