Bring the Heat!
Summer is cooking and the fishing in parts of the Northwest has been as hot as the weather. Salmon, tuna, crab … it’s on for those who are out on the water. These are the long, warm, short-sleeved days that make chasing fish worthwhile.
Chinook salmon are the big draw in August, and big they can be. Kings as we call them in the States, or “springs” as they are referred to in Canada, can reach 100 pounds. Although the chances to hook (and land) a behemoth of those proportions are one in a million, catching a 30-pound Tyee-class Chinook is very possible this time of year. Many spots in our local waters and beyond still have large fish coming through. You don’t have a shot if your line isn’t in the water, so do your research and go fish!
Every odd year, pink salmon return to Northwest rivers and massive schools will be swimming in the salt on their way to spawn. You don’t need downriggers or a fancy fishing machine to catch these fish. Casting pink Buzz Bomb type lures at jumping schools can be a productive blast. They aren’t the top table fare in the sea, but if they are cleaned and iced immediately, they’ll fill a smoker for treats for the in-laws and neighbors. Sockeye are great eating and should still be around in early August, too.
Upper Left: Vicki Klein has crab legs! Right: Derek Floyd of Reel Class Charters in Sitka, Alaska hoists a huge King with a happy angler. Lower Left: The Vancouver Chinook Classic is big money for a great cause.
These salmon are more difficult to catch in the salt. As they are krill eaters and schooling fish, slow shallow trolling using a bunch of flashers and smaller offerings can be successful. However, the last time I targeted them, I caught a nice Chinook on sockeye gear at 60 feet, then dropped a large spoon down to 120 feet looking for kings and caught a sockeye. It’s fishing, go figure.
Towards the end of August, coho salmon will make their appearance. Also known as silvers, these fish are aggressive biters and crazy fighters. You don’t have to use any advanced techniques on this silver horde. Hootchies and spoons, 36 inches to 48 inches behind a flasher, will work. Try to downrigger troll a bit faster and a bit shallower than for Kings. But if you mark fish on your sonar, drop down and go get ‘em. Nothing beats a jumping, cartwheeling coho on the end of your line for grins!
I get a serious hankering for Dungeness crab in these summer months. Find a sandy bottom next to some structure in 30 to 60 feet of water and drop the pots. I like to use my salmon heads and carcasses for bait. The crabs love them and nothing goes to waste. Try crabbing on a mellow flood tide for a few hours during the day if you can. Sometimes this can be more productive than leaving pots overnight. Some folks think their crabs were taken, but really the critters just climbed out after the bait was gone. And some, who are convinced their pots were stolen, are just victims of strong tidal currents that sweep the traps away.
As always, make sure and double check the regulations for the area you plan to crab or fish. Updates and rule changes will be posted on the websites of governing agencies. Know before you go! Learn and you won’t get burned!
There are a host of events to keep the competitive angler busy throughout August. The weekend of August 12, I’ll be fishing the Washington Tuna Classic in Westport with Team Lindell Yachts. That same weekend the Juan De Fuca Salmon Derby in Pedder Bay, B.C. takes place. The next weekend of August 19 and 20, we’ll head to Richmond, B.C. to fish the Vancouver Chinook Classic with Team Parker Boats Northwest. Farther west on the same dates will be the Summer Chinook shootout in Port Renfrew, B.C..
All these Canadian tournaments are great events that raise money for great causes. Speaking of great causes, we’ll be taking the Team Parker boat to a Salmon for Soldiers in Everett, Washington on August 26. This amazing organization puts anglers together with returning veterans to get them some much needed time on the water reeling in fish. We are honored to help and net some salmon for our troops! Go to salmonforsoldiers.com for more info.
Puget Sound Anglers (PSA) fishing clubs will also have some smaller derbies in local waters this month. I strongly suggest joining a PSA club in your area. It’s a great way to meet fellow anglers, learn about fishing, and get involved in sport fishing issues.
Slow down and enjoy this time of year if you can. On the water in the Northwest, catching fish and having fun makes for a summer to remember for all ages. Take a kid fishing. You’ll be glad you did, and they’ll never forget it. Until next time, let’s get out there and go get some!