Tuggin’ on Tuna
and Slammin’ Salmon!

Kevin Klein Kevin's Catch

We are in the middle of the dry season, but out on the water, it will be wet and wild angling through August. There’s a lot going on this month, so let’s jump right to the top of the fish list with some albacore info. That’s right, it’s tuna time!

Charlie the Tuna and all his long-finned albacore buddies will be putting on a show this month. If you’ve never ran off the coast for tuna, the absolute best way to learn is to book a trip on one of the fast cruising, “six-pack” charter boats. From trolling to jigs, swimbaits, and best live bait stops, these smaller boats will give you the exact experience of piloting your own boat for albacore. Plus, these captains are experts who are on the water daily. Learning from the pros will not only be invaluable for knowing how to catch fish, but also how to set up your boat when you decided to take the leap into tuna town.

Kevin's Catch

Left: Michelle Johnson whacked this Columbia river Chinook amongst the masses at the Buoy 10 fishery. Right: Erol Turanciol caught this nice August king while downrigger trolling in 2018. Looks like fillets for days!

If you’ve participated in the albacore fishery before, you know how fun it can be. These fish pull hard and fast. The first time I grabbed a rod on the troll with a tuna on the other end, it just about yanked the rod out of my hands. Be forewarned, those runs with a screaming reel and a disappearing line can be very addictive. For those wanting to test their ship and crew in some friendly competition, the Washington Tuna Classic will take place in Westport August 9 and 10. Go to missionoutdoors.org for more info. The Oregon Tuna Classic out of Garibaldi will take place August 23 and 24. Check it out at oregontunaclassic.org. Both events provide support to great causes.

Chinook salmon are one of the highlights of August in the Northwest. Whether it’s Northern California, Oregon, the rollin’ Columbia river, or rockin’ on through Washington to British Columbia and Alaska, the kings are amassing into the silver horde. These heavyweight champions of the salmon world fight a good fight and are a winner for dinner. Hanging a big bad Tyee king is the crown of Northwest angling. We’ve covered fishing methods for salmon many times in these pages, so now’s the time to put all that knowledge from attending King College to work. It’s very rewarding to experience Chinook success yourself.

Kevin’s Pick

Big Hammer Swim Baits

If I had to choose one lure to use for all species of fresh and saltwater fish in the Northwest, it might just be Big Hammer Swimbaits. From tuna, halibut, ling cod, rockfish, bass, walleye, and beyond, these lures will draw the attention of just about every fish species. Since 1993, Big Hammer has been making swimbaits that are durable and action-packed. Their hydrodynamic square tail design gives them attractive movement through the water even at low speeds. Check out the full lineup, from 2” to 9”, at Big Hammer Swimbait.

Bait

It’s an odd year and I don’t mean strange. That means pink salmon will return to the area. Pinks are caught when trolling for Chinook and coho, but are also caught while casting from a boat. Lead lures such as the Buzz Bomb are murder on these fish. Cast them out and jig them slightly while reeling back in. While they may not be the best table fair, pinks are fun to catch and usually plentiful. There may be some sockeye around in different fisheries, too. Now we’re talking some good eats, just don’t put whatever method of heat you’re using to the red salmon too long. They tend to dry out quickly if overcooked.

Coho salmon will make their appearance this month. Not the wiliest adversary in the saltchuck, these silver rockets will hit just about anything and do it with wild abandon. Not much is as much fun as some good-sized coho on a hot bite. With all these different salmon species around in August, it’s a good time to make sure you know how to tell the difference between them. Chinook vs. chum, sockeye vs. pink…it’s not always as easy as it looks. Also, different areas are closed to retention of some species, or have different bag limits. One of the readily available laminated salmon species cards are a good thing to pick up next time you’re in the tackle shop. And, as always, check the regulations before you go. No matter which species of salmon you catch, make sure and save those heads and carcasses for crab bait. Nothing is more effective for limiting out on the Dungeness than floggin’ a nice oily salmon noggin!

Crabbing should still be open in many areas around the Northwest; and it is the cure for any summertime blues you may have. Fire up that crab cooker and crack open a cold one before cracking some hot dungies.
There are three Northwest Salmon Derby Series on the docket for this month. The Brewster King Salmon Derby August 2 to 4; the Vancouver Chinook Classic in Richmond B.C., August 17 and 18; and the Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby in Woodland, Washington, on August 31. Go to Northwest Salmon Derby Series for more details. Enjoy the summer while it lasts! Time to get out on the water and get after those fish!

Kevin Klein

Written by

A lifelong resident of Washington, Kevin Klein has been on the rivers, lakes, and salt waters of the Pacific Northwest since conception. Kevin can be found promoting sport fishing and giving seminars on boating and fishing techniques. On any given day you may find Kevin and his wife Vicki, also an accomplished angler, plying the waters of the Northwest, spreading the word of the benefits of the boating and fishing lifestyle.

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