By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Jerry Wright of Jerry's Bait and Tackle in Port Angeles (360-457-1308) confirmed this Wednesday afternoon.
“The bite's on right now,” Wright said.
“People have been having some good luck out at Freshwater Bay, and right by the radio shack off Ediz Hook, and out by the second hole at the Humps.”
Anglers after a hefty king this weekend also can participate in a two-day fishing derby that Wright is sponsoring.
The second annual Jerry's Bait and Tackle Fishing Contest is open Saturday and Sunday, with fish weigh-ins at 3:30 p.m. both days.
“Last year we had 61 people,” Wright said. “The tides are going to be excellent, so it should be a good two days of fishing.”
There are no geographical limits to the derby.
Wright just wants anglers to produce legal hatchery-bred chinook and have them weighed in each day at 3:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the store, located next to the Jiffy Lube at 2720 E. U.S. Highway 101 in Port Angeles.
And those who fail to land a fish can at least head home with a full belly.
Wright and crew will be cooking up tacos in beef, steak, chicken and tuna for participants.
Wright aksi will be giving away RainShadow-logo hats from Sequim's Batson Enterprises.
Prizes for first, second and third place will be announced after the weigh-in Sunday.
If you participate, Wright recommends sending your line down to a depth of 120 to 150-feet and using a cookies and cream-colored spoon in the 3 to 3.5-inch range.
If cookies and cream doesn't bring a king aboard, Wright suggests trying a white lightning-colored spoon.
In researching that color of spoon, I came across a Silver Horde Kingfisher Lite Spoon in “12th Fan” (not 12th Man, as that is trademarked) blue and green.
If more traditional fish lures can't conjure up a chinook, Wright said white hoochies have been working well, so switch it up and try again.
“Just get it out there and put it down there and I think you can find a fish,” Wright said.
PA fish counts
Chinook started rolling in last week as warmer weather appeared.
Hopefully, the bite doesn't dip this weekend, with cooler temperatures and showers on the way.
Ediz Hook ramp checks showed 40 chinook (35 boats and 69 anglers checked) last Friday; 64 kings (48 boats and 107 anglers) last Saturday; and 28 chinook (21 boats and 44 anglers) last Sunday.
Freshwater Bay was even better, with an average of more than one fish per angler — 39 chinook landed by 36 anglers in 17 boats.
Said Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More in Sequim (360-683-1950): “Guys have been going really deep for the fish, like 250-to-300-feet deep.”
Menkal mentioned Coho Killers as the prime seller at his shop.
“Candlefish lures can imitate small herring, so that's a double duty lure that's good to use anytime.”
A few anglers have been finding candlefish further offshore than normal.
“A guy said he ran into a school of candlefish way out in the Strait,” Menkal said.
“Usually, it's just the opposite, so that was kind of a surprise.”
Menkal said that the new King Candy, a lure designed by Sequim's Dave Sanford for the Port Townsend-based Point Wilson Company's Point Wilson Dart line, has been a hot seller, but being a new product he didn't have any success stories yet.
Area 9 opener
Reports varied for the Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) chinook opener.
“While not as good as last year, [the opener] was still quite good, with an average of almost one king per boat,” said Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist.
“The kings have been running small, with most of the mature salmon in the 9-to-12 pound class.”
Norden spoke to a state Department of Fish and Wildlife fish checker in Port Townsend.
“The fish checker I talked to had not seen any other species of salmon filling out two fish limits since most anglers targeted just chinook.”
I checked in with an old friend of mine, Sean McGinnis in Port Townsend, for a report.
A coworker of his, Fred Arey, had been mooching off Mid Channel Bank near Port Townsend.
Arey didn't get a chinook on day one, but saw 12 hooked up and a ton of boats.
He though the opener was “slow at best.”
Norden also heard of an off-year run of pinks along the south end of Whidbey Island.
This run won't come anywhere near 2013's odd-year numbers, but you might be able to bring home a humpie.
Wind, fog out west
Joey Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort in Neah Bay (360-645-2374) said the king fishing “has been good when the weather's good.”
Neah Bay, Sekiu and other points west had to deal with strong westerly winds and a fog bank that made it itself comfortable in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“The charter vessels out of Neah Bay have been limiting, and the private vessels when they do get a chance to go out in the ocean, they are doing all right,” Lawrence said.
“Some of the better spots for ocean fishing have been off Shark Fin, Skagway, and Spike Rock.”
Olson's East Docks in Sekiu were checked last Friday. More coho than kings were landed, with 48 coho and 17 chinook brought in by 120 anglers in 51 boats.
Chinook numbers were better Saturday at the main Olson's Dock, with 53 chinook and 38 coho landed by 178 anglers in 68 boats.
Sunday's totals dipped back to an almost 4-to-1 chinook ratio at Olson's and 3-to-1 at neighboring Van Riper's.
“Coho out at Neah Bay are running smaller than usual as you would expect on an El Nino year, but they will grow quickly once they get into the plankton-rich Strait and away from the more sterile offshore waters,” Norden said.
He heard the coho right now are around 4 to 5 pounds, which jives with what I've been told by state fisheries biologist Wendy Beeghley.
“There's a few silver showing up in the Sol Duc,” Wright said.
“A lot of them you can get on sand shrimp underneath a float and pop a pink cerise marabou jig with 6-pound test on them.
“It's a pop, pop, and reel kind of a deal. You are trying to mimic the movement of your lure kind of like a wounded shrimp.”
For any low-river fishing, Menkal recommends “super-light tackle.”
“I'm talking 4-to 6-pound test leaders on 8-pound test line,” Menkal said.
Wright got into what he called “a tremendous amount of cutthroats on the Bogachiel and Sol Duc” recently.
“Old-timers used to like to go for cutthroat will like this,” Wright said.
The fish reach 16-to-18 inches, with the average length about a foot.
“I've been out on those rivers for 20 years and haven't seen them this big in a long time.”
Wright recommends small Blue Fox spinners with an orange body and gold blade.
“Or you can catch them on a green body with the black blade,” Wright said.
“If you wanted to fly-fish for them, a stone fly works good.”
Coho fishing seminar
A coho fishing seminar in time for the anticipated movement of silvers through the Strait is planned at Brian's Sporting Goods and More in Sequim from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 29.
Rick Ray, who recently conducted a well-attended king seminar at Brian's, will offer plenty of information on attracting the silver set.
Cost is $20. Those attending should RSVP by phoning the store at 360-683-1950.
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Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.