The hatchery king salmon fishing spree has hearts fluttering in the Strait of Juan de Fuca clear into Admiralty Inlet.
“It looks like the chinook fishing is holding up at Port Angeles, and the pink numbers are still pretty high,” said Larry Bennett, the head state Fish and Wildlife fish checker in the Strait. “We had over 200 pinks checked at Port Angeles, and they’re catching them right along the shore.”
Just to the east, Midchannel Bank — a huge underwater sandy plateau — off Port Townsend has been lights out for large-size kings.
“I know a boat that hooked 12 kings and kept four up to 25 pounds, and I don’t know anywhere in the state right now that can compare to what’s happening off Port Townsend,” said Tony Floor, director of fishing affairs for Northwest Marine Trade Association.
“It is easy to overlook and forget that without selective fishing (where salmon are marked in the hatcheries to differentiate them between wild fish) there would be no summer fishing at Port Townsend,” Floor said. “This is a shining example that it works, and provides a great opportunity.”
In western Strait, Neah Bay anglers were averaging a decent 1.7 fish per rod.
“It is wall-to-wall pinks and lots of silvers at Neah Bay, and its hard to get your line down to catch a chinook,” Bennett said.
Other fair to good spots for kings, coho and pinks are Freshwater Bay and Sekiu.
Elsewhere on the coast, Westport opens daily for salmon beginning Friday, and finally picked up for coho and kings.
“At Westport it was just under a fish per person average, and Monday a lot of the charters limited mostly on coho,” said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
Ilwaco anglers averaged 1.0 fish per rod and most were hatchery coho; and at La Push it was just over 1.0 fish per rod when you include pinks in the catch.
In northern and central Puget Sound, the hatchery king fishery started off with mixed results at Richmond Beach to Edmonds; Jefferson Head; Pilot Point; Kingston; Point No Point; Point Monroe; Yeomalt Point; West Point near Shilshole Bay; and Possession Bar.
Charters were finding fair action for small coho, 16 to 20 inches, in the shipping lanes off Jefferson Head.