SALMON FISHING -- Washington's coastal hatchery chinook salmon season kicked into high gear last week with good fishing reports coming in from Puget Sound to Ilwaco.
Read on for the update by Mark Yuasa of the Seattle Times.
The salmon catch-and-release area of central Puget Sound, north of the Meadow Point-Point Monroe line, had a high number of kings showing up early.
"We released two adult kings (on Monday) and got five on Sunday, and it has been good for about a week now," said Keith Robbins, owner of A Spot Tail Salmon Guide in Seattle.
"All the kings were (11 or 12 pounds), and two weighed 18 and 19 pounds," he added. "The kings showed up earlier, (but) historically it isn't a surprise to see them in June."
In south-central Puget Sound, reports of huge hatchery chinook keep coming from the Tacoma area.
"We're getting some fish, but not a lot of them, and the ones we've seen are really nice sized, including a 32 ½-pound king caught (Tuesday)," said Art Tatchell, manager of the Point Defiance Boathouse in Tacoma, who also saw a couple of 20-pound kings.
The coastal catches have also been quite good in a couple of places.
"Ilwaco had a good opener, and we saw more than one (hatchery-marked chinook) per person along with quite a few boats that had (two-fish daily) limits," said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
"Westport started off slow (last) Saturday, but picked up Sunday and has been pretty consistent (close to a fish per rod) since then."
Most are finding chinook off Ocean Shores and at the mouth of Gray Harbor off Buoy 8 and the sunken jetty.
Neah Bay was close to half a chinook per rod. Most were caught off Mushroom Rock, Umatilla Reef and Swiftsure Bank. Only 10 chinook were sampled last weekend at La Push.
All four coastal ports are open daily for hatchery-marked chinook through Saturday. Starting Sunday, Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay are open daily for all chinook and hatchery-marked coho. Westport will be open Sundays through Thursdays only.
Fishing on the Lower Columbia River has ramped up in recent days.
"It hasn't been quite as good for summer chinook compared to when it first opened (June 16), but we are seeing more steelhead in the Longview-Cathlamet area up to 15 pounds, plus more sockeye," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
On Tuesday, more than 74,951 shad flooded the Bonneville Dam fish counter, and Hymer says now is a good time for shad fishing just below the dam. Beware: Big sturgeon have been stealing stringers of shad right off the bank from anglers not paying attention.
During the June 16-19 summer chinook fishery, anglers made 9,600 trips and kept 855 and released 446. Although bank anglers had more trips and catches, boat anglers had a better catch rate.