I poured my first cup of coffee at 4 am this morning with the sound of heavy rain outside my kitchen window. It would be a soaker during our morning mooching trip. One of those rare summer rainstorms that makes you feel like we have time-warped straight into fall.
It was the first time I have prepped the boat, gear and bait donning full rain gear in quite some time. Pulled up to the dock. Met the crew, a great group that were eager for their first fishing experience in Puget Sound.
We started fishing at Jeff Head with huge schools of herring on the sonar, which is always a welcome sight! The dogfish were very welcoming. We caught one after another. It rained. We moved. We caught more. It rained. We moved. We caught even more. Did I mention it was raining? Most of you that have spent time salmon fishing on Puget Sound will understand that fishing out here isn’t always big salmon and high-fives and sunshine all the time. But if you have faith and confidence, and can have the persistence to grind it out… you will find them.
I made a run to Kingston, hoping we would get lucky at the end of the ebb tide. Bait was light and the grass was thick on the surface. After a few drifts we made another move. I don’t like moving around as much as we did this morning, but I hadn’t felt that warm fuzzy optimism at the spots we had tried so far.
We moved to a different location on Jeff Head and found some pretty interesting bait balls busting on the surface. Herring were erupting on the surface and gulls were diving. I couldn’t imagine that salmon weren’t actively feeding, pushing the bait to the surface. We drifted and re-positioned a few times around the bait, but nothing connected. The situation looked promising, but I still wasn’t sure whether the crew would be eating salmon or chicken later this evening. I deployed the sabiki rod and jigged up a couple dozen fresh herring. Then it happened.
The tide started to flood in and the bait really started to concentrate. Emily hooked into a burly Chinook. After a long battle we landed our first keeper of the morning! Kelly was next! We then reeled up and positioned for another drift and hooked a double! All said, we had a 45 minute window where the salmon were there and on the bite. We released a nice Wild Chinook and landed five hatchery Chinook. Our long, slow start to the morning ended up with one of the best salmon trips of the summer Chinook Salmon retention season so far.
I took out a second group in the afternoon. The rain clouds gave way to blue skies and we have a great time. We headed right to the same spot and caught the tail end of the bite. Luckily there were still a few willing customers and we caught a few more beautiful salmon. We picked up two Coho on the mooch, as well as a very respectable Chinook for Matthew!
I ended the day back at home hanging all my soaked clothing from the morning to dry, and hitting the Aloe Vera to treat my sunburn from the afternoon. Gotta love that Seattle weather!