The month of October never gets any respect. After all it falls at a time when the warmth of summer seems like a distant memory, days are getting shorter, jackets become an essential part of daily wear, morning dew covers every nook and cranny outside, and Christmas items are showing up on store shelves.
But if you’re angler like me it also means the Pacific Northwest waters are still teeming with fishing opportunities and there’s plenty of time to get “hooked” before the winter holidays roll around.
On top of the autumn fishing list is salmon in local marine waterways and despite the Washington Department of Fisheries (WDFW) and their co-managers chiming the alarm bell that a predicted Puget Sound coho forecast of 670,159 – up from 557,149 in 2018 – it appears that the run could end up being on par.
“In Sekiu there is still tons and tons of new fish coming in,” said Brandon Mason, owner of Mason-Olson’s Resort in Sekiu before it closed on Sept. 30. “We haven’t even come close to seeing the end of the run. I think everyone needs to give this run more time to come in. All the salmon this year have been running late.”
WDFW said late last month a majority of coho had smaller body sizes throughout Puget Sound; many tribal directed fisheries had very low catches; and the in-season encounter estimate was about 5,000 coho greater than predicted for the entire month of September.
This prompted WDFW to lower the daily limit of coho to one as part of a two salmon daily limit effective on Sept. 23 in Marine Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 9, 10, 11 and 13. Since then some of these areas have closed so check dates below of what’s still open.
Yet soon after the rule was implemented coho catches began to increase and the size of fish was better as seen in the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22 where the average weight was 5.40 pounds.
While we hold our breath on what the eventual outcome will be, anglers can still wet a line in central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 10) which is open through Nov. 15 for coho or chum; the Dungeness Bay terminal fishery open Oct. 1-31 for coho; the northern portion of east side of Whidbey Island (Area 8-1) open through Oct. 31; Hood Canal (12) open through Dec. 31; and southern Puget Sound open year-round. Be sure to check the WDFW pamphlet, app or website (https://wdfw.wa.gov/) for details on where you can fish.
The derby series saw a very productive 2019 season with the NW Chevy Dealer Silverado truck and Weldcraft boat traveling across the Pacific Northwest!
In all there was 14 derbies with a total of 6,176 anglers entered in the derby series up from 4,690 in 2018.
The final event was the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22 – which lured 1,735 adults and 210 youth (1,694 and 201 in 2018) was Delbert Roesler of Sultan with an 11.25-pound coho he caught on Saturday (Sept. 21) worth $10,000. Also, congratulations to the youth winner Tyler Cheyne with a 10.97-pound coho worth $300!
In all 1,735 anglers turned out for the largest derby on the West Coast with 930 coho weighed-in averaging 5.40 pounds and a combined weight of 5,017 pounds.
Winner of the $75,000 fully loaded, grand-prize Weldcraft boat powered with Yamaha motors on an EZ Loader Trailer was Trevor Everitt of Lynnwood/Edmonds area who entered the Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 7.
A huge “thank you” goes out to all our sponsors including Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston for providing the Weldcraft Boat; Yamaha Marine; EZ Loader Trailers; Silver Horde and Gold Star Lures; Scotty Downriggers; Burnewiin Accessories; Raymarine Electronics; WhoDat Tower; Dual Electronic Stereo; Tom-n-Jerry’s Marine; Master Marine; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News PSA; Outdoor Emporium and Sportco; Harbor Marine; Prism Graphics; and Salmon, Steelhead Journal.
We’re hitting the refresh button on 2020 series and it will be renamed the “Northwest Fishing Derby Series” that will likely include a spring-time lingcod derby in Oregon and a kokanee-trout derby on Lake Chelan plus a couple more additions.
The new 2020 derby boat – a sleek all-white KingFisher 2025 Hardtop – made its debut at the Everett Coho Derby and we’d like to welcome our newest sponsor SHOXS Seats (ww.shoxs.com) that are engineered for maximum comfort in the roughest of seas.
Anglers can also start looking at 2020 with dates finalized for Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15. For details, go to www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.
In the meantime, take a chance to get out on the water as there’s nothing more enjoyable than a feisty coho or chum salmon tugging on the end of your fishing line.
I’ll see you on the water!