Inside our fishing group, scheduling a March Sekiu salmon fishing trip has become an absolute must-do. This year we didn’t get as much time fishing for Winter Blackmouth in Puget Sound as we would have liked to, and so a road trip out to our favorite fishing area on the Olympic Peninsula would be the kickoff for our 2023 fishing season.
Last year we experienced the most incredible fishing for Winter Blackmouth. The two seasons prior gave us really tough fishing so I guess you could say that our Sekiu winter salmon fishing success has been very mixed. Nonetheless, it’s always a great time and well worth the trip.
If you like to fish for Salmon but have never been to Sekiu, Washington it’s time to think about planning a trip. The half-day’s drive from Seattle is an adventure in itself. The voyage takes you across Puget Sound via ferry, across the Kitsap Peninsula and Hood Canal Bridge, then making way through Sequim and Port Angeles, and the long final 60 mile leg around Lake Crescent and the curvy Highways 101 and 113. The last couple miles of highway as you approach Sekiu gives you an amazing view of Clallam Bay and the fishing boats going to and from the fishing grounds in the Straits. It always is a welcome sight, and while it would seem nice to relax for the rest of the day after that long drive, we usually can’t help ourselves and head right to the launch to splash the boat and get a couple hours of fishing time in. That’s what we came for!
Our 2023 trip was planned to give us Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning to fish. We saw that Friday’s weather forecast was not favorable, with 15-25 knot winds expected in the morning but 5-15 knot winds in the afternoon. So we took our time getting there, with a late departure that morning and a stop for breakfast in Port Angeles at Shirley’s Café (highly recommend) and Swain’s Sporting Goods for a few last minute items.
We hoped that our afternoon arrival into Sekiu would time perfectly with the downgrading winds and give us a couple hours of fishing time in the afternoon before dark. Of course with our luck, we showed up to Sekiu and the seas were flat and the winds nonexistent. It was calm all morning and we missed it! But the bacon was worth it. Anyways, we splashed the boat and got our couple hours of fishing in.
Friday afternoon was our warm-up trip. We worked the stretch east of Clallam Bay between Pillar Point and Slip Point. This area was loaded with bait and salmon marks last year, at about the same time of the month and about the same tides, but it was pretty blank for 2023 Day 1. Regardless of that, we gave it a solid effort. Our primary setups were Pro-Troll Flashers (Lighted Chartreuse Glow and Chartreuse Moon Jelly), one with an Ace Hi Fly Herring Aide and the other with a Silver Horde Kingfisher Herring Aide Spoon, 32” – 40” 30lb Fluorocarbon Leaders. Evan captained us on the troll and kept the boat in between 150’ to 160’.
Chris and I watched the gear like hawks and made sure we were constantly checking to keep our gear within a few feet of bottom. With a blank sonar screen, we figured that any Blackmouth in the area would be near the gravel looking for forage.
About an hour in, Chris finally hooked the first Chinook of the trip. It peeled line, took a couple good runs and came off just as we started to get serious about grabbing the net. Shortly after that, we had another grab and I picked up the rod. This one seemed to be a little smaller, but as we scooped it with the net, we saw that it was a solid 27” clipped Chinook. Super happy with that one! We fished for a couple hours total and had those two opportunities before it was time to call it a day.
On Saturday we headed out at first light. The Strait of Juan de Fuca was slick and glassy with a very light wind. Evan took us to Pillar Point to work the outgoing tide back to Slip. The morning started off slow and in that first long pass we didn’t hook more than a small Rockfish and baby Lingcod until we reached Slip Point.
Once our troll took us near Slip, we passed a friend’s boat that was trolling in the opposite direction. They announced that fishing had been pretty good for them right around the point for most of the morning.
Within 10 minutes of passing their boat we hooked our first salmon of the day. It was a really nice 28” Chinook that weighed about 8 pounds. Seeing nothing all morning and then catching our first one right after hearing a great report in that same area, we tightened our troll path and focused on that area.
We lost another good one and then Chris landed our best one of the trip, a 30” clipped Chinook that weighed in right at 10 pounds. We fished up until 11am and then headed back to fillet our catch, grab lunch, and get a little gear together for our afternoon Lingcod fishing (report in separate post here).
We finished up our weekend with a few hours of fishing Sunday morning before we had to pull the boat out of the water. The Straits were a little angry with a sustained 10 knot wind and about 2 feet of wind chop. Not fun to fish in. Boat control was a challenge. Staying on a contour to ensure our gear was trolling within a couple feet of bottom was a challenge. My stomach was challenged. We ended up catching a nice Chinook almost immediately. And then almost immediately after that, we all kind of agreed that we probably wouldn’t spend all morning fishing in those sloppy conditions. We called our morning a success and made way back to the docks to head home.
This was our fourth consecutive year fishing for Chinook Salmon in Sekiu in March. We didn’t see a single Chinook in Year 1 or Year 2. We saw the most incredible Chinook fishing ever in Year 3. And this year we were prepared, educated on the area, and had confidence in our gear and caught a handful of really nice Chinook. From my short experience fishing for Chinook in Sekiu, it seems like this place isn’t the most consistent place to fish for Blackmouth but it does offer an incredible opportunity. I’m eager to see what Year 5 in Sekiu has planned for us.