Summer Heats Up: Salmon, Tuna, Crab, Oh My!
The heat is on and so is the fishing in the Pacific Northwest! Salmon, tuna, crab… all lined up for you to bring home the eats this time of year. Doing it all while getting a tan makes being on the water that much sweeter. Chinook salmon are the big draw in August, kings as we call them in the States or springs as they are referred to in Canada. Catching a 30-pound 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 get some fish!
Don’t be afraid to try shallow and/or deep for these behemoths. I’ve seen big kings caught at 30’ or 300’ down on the downrigger cable. Use your electronics, for a good sounder is invaluable. If you see a big fish mark down deep, let out the cable. This won’t always produce strikes, but when it does the feeling is pretty sweet. Mission accomplished!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” to 48”, 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 producing grins!
You may even catch a sockeye when fishing for kings or coho. Make sure and study a salmon identification chart before you go. Sockeye will have large bright, glassy eyes and are almost toothless. They have no spots on their tail or back. Conversely, Chinook will have large sharp teeth, a black gum line in the mouth, and large spots on their back. Coho can sometimes be confused with either. A silver’s mouth is light with a white gum line and has small sharp teeth. I also get excited for Dungeness crab in these summer months. Find a sandy bottom next to some structure in 30’ to 60’ of water and drop the pots. I like to use my salmon heads and carcasses for bait. The crab love them and nothing goes to waste. Try crabbing on a slightly moving flood tide for a few hours during the day if you can.
Sometimes this can be more productive than leaving pots overnight. Some folks who think their crab were taken really just had the crustaceans climb out after the bait was gone. And some who are convinced their pots were stolen were just victims of strong tidal currents that swept 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 online on the websites of governing agencies. Know before you go!
There will be a couple very cool salmon competitions on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series’ roster this
month. First off will be the Brewster Salmon Derby, August 3-5, out of Brewster, Washington, at the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia rivers. This event encompasses fishing for Chinook in the Brewster pool of the Columbia River. These upriver kings can be large and hard fighting. Cash and prizes worth $20,000 will be up for grabs in this freshwater tournament. Go to brewstersalmonderby.com for more info.
Next up will be the Vancouver Chinook Classic, August 18 and 19, at the Deckside Marina and Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond B.C. This is a catch and release derby, with the contending fish being measured and turned loose after an official weight is recorded. Check out the entire awesome program at decksidemarina.com. Proceeds will go to the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Sports Fishing Institute. Both are great causes that do so much for salmon and salmon fishing! Participation in these events will enter you in the Northwest Salmon Derby Series grand prize drawing. Go to nwsalmonderbyseries.com for the full line up of tournaments for the year and more information.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 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!