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Thursday, July 13, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Fishing: Northern coast good for salmon

Seattle Times staff reporter

Depending on whom you talk to, some salmon anglers were jubilant, while others were banging their heads on the gunwale.

The northern coast finally picked up, with anglers at Neah Bay finding more fish just outside the port, as opposed to distant offshore areas like Umatilla Reef and Blue Dot.

"It started off slow, but by [Saturday] it was a fish-per-person average," said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "More fish are moving inside at places like Waadah Island, and the catch is mostly coho."

Just south at La Push, anglers averaged one fish per rod with an even catch ratio of chinook and coho. At Westport, the average was about half a fish per rod and then dropped to a meager quarter-fish per rod.

"The salmon are dispersed everywhere around Westport, and a number of charters ran south toward Ilwaco," Beeghly said. "The good news is that the catch is two-thirds chinook and one-third coho. The chinook were averaging 15 pounds."

Ilwaco charters were getting two-fish limits of mostly coho (averaging 6 pounds) earlier in the week, but by Sunday it had dropped to about one-third fish per rod.

"I know someone who got skunked at Ilwaco for the first time in his life, and he's been fishing there for a long time," Beeghly said.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, "the biggest gripe from people is that they're having to release unmarked kings [only those with a missing adipose fin may be kept], but we're seeing fair fishing for hatchery kings, and some 5- to 6-pound silvers," said Gary Ryan, manager at Van Riper's Resort in Sekiu.

In the Eastern Strait, hatchery-king fishing was slow to fair at Freshwater Bay and Port Angeles.

King fishing around the San Juan Islands was fair this week.

"I had a customer who got three kings up to 15 pounds at Thatcher Pass," said Larry Carpenter, owner of Master Marine in Mount Vernon. "There is a lot of baitfish around."

Places worth hitting are Rosario Strait, the west side of San Juan Island, the north end of Orcas Island, Point Doughty, Parker Reef and Eagle Bluff.

"The coho fishery in Area 10 [Central Sound] has been pretty good, but not slam dunk," said Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Everett. "We got 12 coho on Friday, eight on Saturday and seven on Sunday, and they've averaged 2 to 4 pounds. The coho are a little bigger than last year."

While fishers claim to be waxing the coho fishery in Central Sound, others have reported some poor catch-and-release king fishing.

"It was slow for kings [Tuesday] at Jefferson Head and Kingston, but some baitfish showed up around Kingston," said Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle. "We had one small salmon [Tuesday], and it is by far a lot slower than last year."

King fishing has been very slow in the Tulalip Bay terminal fishery, although the tribal fishers have been doing better than usual.

In south-central Puget Sound, chinook fishing picked up in the Tacoma area but remains slow off Southworth, Dolphin Point and Redondo Beach. North Puget Sound-Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9) opens Sunday and should be decent for coho.

Top spots of the week

1. Salmon in Elliott Bay: Expect a boat load of anglers and long lines at boat ramps when the bay east of a line from Pier 91 to Duwamish Head opens Friday. Fishing is open Fridays to Sundays only.

Places to try are Duwamish Head marker, Todd Shipyard, inside the Duwamish waterway downstream from the First Avenue South Bridge, and the entrances to west and east channel waterways.

2. Summer steelhead or chinook in Western Washington rivers: "Summer steelhead fishing is still looking good in the Skykomish, and we checked 115 anglers with 10 chinook and a dozen steelhead," said Chad Jackson, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "There are a lot of jack chinook showing up, and the water [level] is starting to drop way down."

Other rivers worth a try are the Green, Calawah, Snoqualmie, Wynoochee, Bogachiel and Soleduck.

3. Shad, chinook, sturgeon and steelhead in the Columbia River and tributaries: "The best chinook catches were from Woodland upstream, and anglers are switching over to spinners and wobblers to catch them," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "The Cowlitz is pretty darn good for boat anglers from Mission Bar to Mill Creek."

Other decent steelhead rivers are Kalama and Lewis. Shad fishing is waning in the Gorge. Fisheries managers met Wednesday to discuss additional catch-and-keep sturgeon fishing below the Wauna power lines, but it was likely to go to catch-and-release rules. Good for bass in Bonneville Pool, and for walleye and bass in John Day Pool.

4. Crab in Puget Sound and Hood Canal: "Some are just loading up on crab, and then there are those who can't get a legal-sized crab," said Mike Chamberlain at Ted's Sports Center in Lynnwood. "A lot of it depends where they have been fishing, and if the tribal or commercial crab fishers have hit them hard."

5. Trout and other game fish in statewide lakes: "There are a lot of perch in Lake Washington, and they've also found some pretty good bass fishing in the past few days," said Jerry Beppu, owner of Linc's Tackle Shop in Seattle.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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