In the blink of an eye, summer has shifted past the midway point but that doesn’t necessarily mean anglers should throw shade on late-season fishing opportunities.

In fact, the horizon looks very bright in August when salmon fisheries come into play at Buoy 10 near the Columbia River mouth, Willapa Bay, inner- Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Freshwater fish seekers also can set their sights on abundant yellow perch in many statewide lakes!

First off, the pink – a salmon that returns mainly during odd-numbered years and often referred to as “humpies” for a distinct hump that grows on their back near spawning time – forecast is a paltry 608,388 which could be among the lowest runs on record dating back to 1959. Returns soared above 1 million in 2001 and peaked at more than 10 million in 2009. The strong pace continued when it hit 6-plus million in 2011, more than 8 million in 2013 and dipped to 4 million in 2015.

In 2015, the pinks went from bloom to gloom as they faced a monumental drought period and extremely warm water temperatures in rivers. Winter flooding followed leaving very few young pinks to make it out to the ocean where they eventually ran into “The Blob” a large mass of warm water that wreaked havoc on sea life.

That lead to a dismal 2017 with an actual return of around 511,000 (1.1 million was forecasted) pinks, which was less than 82 percent the historical 10-year average.

While the pink forecast is conservative – this summer’s unexpected strong return of chinook and coho – we just might see a late fourth quarter comeback for humpies too. In fact, some early pinks began showing up in catches back in July so don’t give up on them just yet.

The Puget Sound pink run usually peaks in mid-August, and in southern Puget Sound the last week of August and early September are best.

Summer king and coho salmon fisheries off to a hot start in many marine areas

Pinks aren’t the only game and so far, the coho and hatchery king fisheries have been a pleasant surprise from the coast clear into open areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The party lights began flashing for coho in June when places like central Puget Sound (Area 10) reopened for off-the-charts good action on resident coho. Then good king action began happening last month in the San Juan Islands (now closed to fishing in August), Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Tulalip bubble fishery and south-central Puget Sound.

It was the same scenario in the ocean when catches ramped up in late June from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco and have remained good this past month. Most of this is likely related to a strong forecast of 1,009,600 coho to the Columbia River compared to a 2018 forecast of 349,000.

Look for coho success in open areas of Puget Sound and Strait to only get better in August and build to a crescendo in September. In Puget Sound the total coho return for 2019 is 670,159, which is up from last year’s 557,149.

There are many crowning moments for hatchery kings in open areas from Kingston south to Vashon Island and other points south to Olympia which have seen an uptick in catches and should see good fishing this month.

Before heading out the door, check the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ for any possible emergency closures this month.

Coastal salmon catch data and Puget Sound coho historical annual catch data

 

Here are coastal salmon fishing stats from WDFW:

Ilwaco: A total of 4,548 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery during the week of July 22-28, landing 410 chinook and 5,823 coho. Through July 28, a cumulative total of 2,521 chinook (35% of the area guideline) and 26,231 coho (33% of the area sub-quota) have been landed from the Columbia ocean area.

Westport: A total of 3,348 anglers participated in the all-species salmon fishery during the week of July 22-28, landing 409 chinook and 2,588 coho. Through July 28, a cumulative total of 1,257 chinook (10% of the area guideline) and 8,202 coho (14% of the area sub-quota) have been landed from the Westport area.

La Push: A total of 207 anglers participated in the salmon fishery during the week of July 22-28, landing 23 chinook and 172 coho. Through July 28, a cumulative total of 226 chinook (21% of the area guideline) and 341 coho (8% of the area sub-quota) have been landed from the La Push area.

Neah Bay: A total of 638 anglers participated in the salmon fishery during the week of July 22-28, landing 629 coho. Through July 28, a cumulative total of 3,895 Chinook (75% of the area guideline) and 4,142 coho (25% of the area sub-quota) have been landed from the Neah Bay area. Retention of chinook was prohibited in Marine Area 4 effective Sunday, July 14.

WDFW coastal catch per angler trip average:

Ilwaco – June 22-23: 0.07 chinook per rod average; 1.38 coho per rod average; and 1.46 salmon per rod average. June 24-30: 0.10; 1.47; and 1.56. July 1-7: 0.29; 1.13; and 1.42. July 8-14: 0.11; 1.54; and 1.65. July 15-21: 0.03; 1.46; and 1.49. July 22-28: 0.09; 1.28; and 1.37.

Westport – June 22-23: 0.15 chinook per rod average; 0.05 coho per rod average; and 0.19 salmon per rod average. June 24-30: 0.05; 0.29; and 0.33. July 1-7: 0.09; 0.62; and 0.71. July 8-14: 0.15; 0.94; and 1.09. July 15-21: 0.09; 0.85; and 0.96. July 22-28: 0.12; 0.77; and 0.92.

La Push – June 22-23: 0.02 chinook per rod average; 0.00 coho per rod average; and 0.33 salmon per rod average. June 24-30: 0.09; 0.03; and 0.12. July 1-7: 0.82; 0.15; and 0.97. July 8-14: 0.48; 0.58; and 1.08. July 15-21: 0.39; 0.78; and 1.19. July 22-28: 0.11; 0.83; and 1.13.

Neah Bay – June 22-23: 0.08 chinook per rod average; 0.32 coho per rod average; and 0.42 salmon per rod average. June 24-30: 0.78; 0.29; and 1.07. July 1-7: 0.86; 0.22; and 1.08. July 8-14: 0.42; 0.75; and 1.20. July 15-21: 0.00; 1.18; and 1.22. July 22-28: 0.00; 0.99; and 1.26.

Coastwide – June 22-23: 0.09 chinook per rod average; 0.64 coho per rod average; and 0.74 salmon per rod average. June 24-30: 0.30; 0.87; and 1.16. July 1-7: 0.40; 0.78; and 1.19. July 8-14: 0.19; 1.21; and 1.41. July 15-21: 0.06; 1.10; and 1.17. July 22-28: 0.10; 1.05; and 1.18.

Historical Puget Sound coho annual catches

Here is historical data for Puget Sound coho that shows this seasons’ forecasted return of hatchery coho is on par with the 10-year average while the wild coho are falling short:

2003: 501,032 hatchery, 530,087 wild and 1,031,119 total; 2004: 508,425, 609,179 and 1,117,604; 2005: 461,341, 509,490 and 970,831; 2006: 548,466, 414,760 and 963,226; 2007: 338,268, 294,885 and 633,153; 2008: 330,800, 283,747 and 614,547; 2009: 338,968, 243,495 and 582,463; 2010: 314,004, 299,926 and 613,930; 2011: 375,607, 617,926 and 993,533; 2012: 367,241, 379,213 and 746,454; 2013: 417,226, 464,908 and 882,134; 2014: 432,299, 440,549 and 872,848; 2015: 421,626, 470,229 and 891,855; 2016: 168,585, 87,539 and 256,124; 2017: 300,713, 294,360 and 595,073; 2018: 307,975, 249,174 and 557,149; and 2019: 416,319, 293,980 and 710,299.

By the numbers for coho

Total average: 2003 to 2019 is 385,229 hatchery, 381,379 wild and 766,608 combined. 5-year average: 323,044 hatchery, 279,056 wild and 602,100 combined. 10-year average: 352,160 hatchery, 359,780 wild and 711,940 combined.

Word on NW Salmon Derby Series

 

The derby series kicked into high gear and two events happened this past weekend – PSA South King County Salmon Derby and the Brewster Salmon Derby – with each generating lots of happy faces.

The PSA South King County Salmon Derby was held Aug. 3 at Point Defiance Park Boathouse. The winning hatchery king was caught by Steven Pringle and weighed 21.40 pounds. There were more than 400 derby tickets sold with 126 fish weighed in.

The Brewster Salmon Derby was held Friday through Sunday at Columbia Cove Park on the Columbia River at Brewster. The winning hatchery king was caught by JR Dorsey and weighed 25.20 pounds. There were 206 anglers with 261 fish weighed in.

The Lake Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby was held on July 24-28 and saw a good number of anglers turn out despite the tough fishing. Top angler in the adult division was Bret Hojem with a 13.54-pound chinook; and top youth angler was Cooper Malcolm with a 9.82 chinook.

Prior to that the Puget Sound Anglers Bellingham Salmon Derby was held July 12-14. A total of 392 adult tickets and 72 youth tickets were sold with 164 chinook weighed-in for the event, which was 10 more fish caught than last year.

Tom Hartley of Anacortes took the top prize of $7,500 with a 21.90-pound hatchery chinook; second was Chris Wilson with a 21.60 worth $2,500; and third was Adam Beardsley with a 20.62 worth $1,000.

Other derbies on the horizon are the Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 10; Vancouver, B.C. Chinook Classic, Aug. 17-18; and Edmonds PSA Coho Derby, Sept. 7. The Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby on Aug. 31 has been cancelled due to expected low salmon returns.

Drawing for the grand prize boat takes place at the conclusion of the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22. New at the Everett Coho Derby is a second weigh-in station located at the Edmonds Marina.

The grand prize $75,000 Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop boat from Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston will be making the rounds to each derby. The boat is powered with a Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motor on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer.

The boat is rigged with Burnewiin accessories; Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronics stereo. Other sponsors include Silver Horde Lures; Master Marine and Tom-n-Jerry’s; Harbor Marine; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Sportco and Outdoor Emporium; and Prism Graphics. It is trailered with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – not part of the grand prize giveaway – courtesy of Northwest Chevrolet and Burien Chevrolet.

In other related news, 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. Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Summer is sneaking by quickly so it’s time for me to jump on the boat and get into the fishing action. I’ll see you on the water!