OUTDOORS: Absence of chinook a mystery in Strait of Juan de Fuca

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

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THE CURIOUS CASE of the late-arriving chinook.

The piecemeal run in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is a mystery so far. And the clock is ticking rapidly down to the Aug. 15 closure of the king fishery in Marine Area’s 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

Gary Ryan of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu agreed on the strange aspect of this year’s chinook output.

“It’s just weird,” Ryan said.

“There are some around but not in big numbers and guys have been having to go real deep for them, 130 to 150 feet on the downrigger.”

Ryan did offer some hope.

“Yesterday [Wednesday] was a real good king bite so maybe that picks up into the weekend,” Ryan said.

He was more encouraged by a good push of coho in the past week.

“Seems to be a lot of bait out in the middle of the Strait and fishermen seem to be catching more coho recently,” Ryan said.

“One guy today [Thursday] had a 10 pounder [coho] and he said they were done by 7:30 a.m. this morning.”

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles was honest about the king fishery.

“It’s been tough, man, really tough,” Aunspach said.

“I just talked with somebody fishing across the line in Canadian waters and they are having the same trouble.”

Aunspach was hopeful, however.

“I think the real concentration of fish is still in the ocean,” Aunspach said.

Jerry Wright of Jerry’s Bait and Tackle (360-457-1308) in Port Angeles echoed Aunspach’s thoughts on the king fishery.

“It’s a tough go,” Wright said.

“We went out Tuesday and picked up one about 14 pounds, but it’s been rough, really rough out there.”

He mentioned the early-morning fog banks that have socked in areas around Port Angeles, coupled with some choppy water as factors.

“One guy has caught 55 kings and only two of those were clipped,” Wright said with clipped referring to keepable hatchery chinook.

“Lots of frustrated peopled right now,” Wright said.

Wright is even more perplexed when he hears that the waters near Swiftsure have been productive for kings.

“They are still knocking them out over there, but they don’t seem to be coming through the Strait,” Wright said.

Kings a no show, try coho

If the chinook aren’t around, Aunspach recommends going for coho.

“I fished Saturday and Sunday and hooked 3 for sure,” Aunspach said.

“This next week or two could be good for that early run of coho if a guy went looking for them.

“I would be surprised if cohos don’t outnumber this chinook this weekend.”

In a time-limited fishery like chinook, anglers can be reluctant to let go of their hopes at landing the big ones.

“There’s a tendency to want to keep fishing for kings until the last minute,” Aunspach said.

“But then a frustration factor can set in when that line never moves and an angler will do anything he can to get the rod to bend, regardless of what’s on the other end.”

Aunspach didn’t think the fog was a big problem when fishing for kings.

“I’ll run from here [Port Angeles] to Freshwater Bay in the fog,” Aunspach said.

“You just go semi-slow and as long as you have a good GPS and a compass you should be good to go.”

There are difficulties, though, he noted.

“You can get turned around out there a bit, and it’s harder to stay on line with where you want to go,” Aunspach said.

Web exclusive LaPush report

This report came in a bit too late for the print edition of my column, but I couldn’t pass up including it here online.

Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052 or 360-640-1137) in LaPush had a positive report for the ocean salmon fishery.

“If you are willing to travel, its phenomenal fishing,” Lato said.

“We’ve been running into a lot of kings and silvers right now about 20 miles northwest of LaPush.”

Lato said both commercial and recreational anglers are finding good numbers of both species.

Even better, the coho are starting to show size, Lato said.

“Some are in the range of 10 to 12 pounds.”

On the chinook side, Lato said most of the catch is in the teens, “but sometimes you will get one over 20 [pounds].”

Trolling is the preferred method.

“One of the mooching boats took the day off yesterday [Wednesday] and went and bought some downriggers,” Lato said

He offered up some hope for those fishing along the Strait.

“I think there is a wad coming and folks in the strait will be seeing some fish here soon,” Lato said.

Lato also offered a heads up for those coming to fish off LaPush.

“There’s no gas at the dock right now in LaPush,” Lato said.

“So come prepared with other resources.”

Lato said the closest non-ethanol gas provider was the Lonesome Creek Store in LaPush.

Port Townsend slow

Salmon fishing in Port Townsend has been slow for both chinook and coho.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife creel reports counted six chinook caught by 41 boats with 80 anglers on Sunday.

My friends Max Raymond of Port Townsend and Gabe Berry, of Seattle by way of Port Townsend, fished from shore at Marrowstone Point last weekend.

They didn’t catch a thing, which is typical for most of the beach fishing expeditions I’ve joined them on.

They did catch a bunch of crab in Port Townsend Bay and played a round of golf, so the weekend wrapped on a high note.

Crabbing slow in PA

Both Wright and Aunspach said that crabbing has been really slow in recent weeks around Port Angeles.

“I’ve gone for them for four days a week the past two weeks and haven’t had a one,” Aunspach said.

“I moved them around to some good areas, but kept pulling females and undersized males.”

“I’d say the deeper you can be with your pots the better.”

Wright has heard of many having shells that are just too soft for harvest.

Coho on Calawah

In line with increased coho numbers in the salt water out west, Wright said that Calawah River had been producing some coho.

“Starting to trickle on in,” Wright said.

Tuna is a trek

Wright has heard that tuna are off LaPush, but you’re going to need a bigger boat to get out to reach them.

“Tuna are roughly 40 miles out of La Push and I did hear of some guys going out and catching them,” Wright said.

“I heard one guy hooked 26 on an X-Rap plug.

In this category there are no daily limits, except for northern bluefin, skipjack and yellowfin tuna, all of which have daily limit of two each.

Fly Fishing 101

Waters West, a Port Angeles fly fishing outfit, will present Fly Fishing 101, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 10.

Come enjoy an evening with the crew from Waters West learning the basics of fly fishing.

This half day, crash course will take place at a local pond and will jump start you into this life-long sport.

The Waters West crew will put heavy emphasis on casting, line control and presentation.

All rods, reels, flies, and other essential equipment will be provided, and students should have a good chance at catching fish.

Subjects covered include understanding equipment, basic fly casting, fly selection, reading water and presentation, and playing and landing fish.

The cost is $25 and no fishing license is required.

To register, visit the shop at 140 W. Front St. in Port Angeles, phone 360-417-0937 or visit waterswest.com/classes-clinics/ and click on “Click here to enroll.”

Boating safety class

“About Boating Safety,” a class offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 42 Sequim-Port Angeles, will be offered on Saturday, Aug. 9.

The course will be held at the Coast Guard base on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, and will start at 9:30 a.m.

Attendees will qualify for a Washington State Boater Education Card, which is required for all boaters younger than age 60.

The cost is $15 per person or $20 for a pair.

To register,phone 360-452-1135.

Send photos, stories

Have a photograph, a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique?

Send it to sports@peninsuladailynews.com or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.


Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 31. 2014 6:13PM
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