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Go Fish

by Mark Yuasa
Tight Lines

Fish on! That thrilling statement will be echoed by anglers near and far as the statewide summer salmon fisheries move into full swing in July. There are many spots worth jotting down on your list of “must go” places to fish.

The early indicators were decent in saltwater areas that opened in June for either hatchery Chinook and/or coho; these include the Tulalip Bubble Fishery, central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10), south-central Puget Sound (Marine Area 11), and southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13).

What’s got me even more stoked is the opening of the Strait of Juan de Fuca July 1 for hatchery Chinook and coho. The western Strait at Sekiu-Pillar Point (Marine Area 5) opens July 1 through August 15 for hatchery-marked Chinook and coho. The Chinook fishery quota is 3,906 (3,890 in 2022 and 4,077 in 2021). Look for kings lurking off the Caves to the Sekiu River, Slip Point, Mussolini Rock, and the Coal Mines east to Pillar Point.

A lot of hype will be centered around the eastern Strait off Port Angeles (Marine Area 6)—located west of a true north/south line through the #2 Buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook—that also opens July 1 for hatchery Chinook and coho. A 7,258 Chinook quota in 2023 is larger than the 6,050 in 2022 and 4,769 in 2021. The area east of the of the boundary is open July 1 through August 15 for hatchery-marked coho only.

The salmon fisheries peak in mid-July as more migrating summer Chinook appear in centralandnorthern Puget Sound (Marine Areas 9 and 10). A summer hatchery Chinook and coho fishery in northern Puget Sound (Marine Area 9) is open July 13-15 with a chance to reopen on July 20-22 and July 27-29. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fishery managers will assess after each three-day fishery in Marine Area 9 to see if additional fishing days are feasible. The Marine Area 9 Chinook quota is 4,300 (4,700 in 2022 and 2021 and 5,600 in 2020). The central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10) hatchery Chinook fishery is open daily from July 13-August 31, although Chinook retention could close sooner if the 3,566 quota is achieved.

The San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) is open July 13-15 for hatchery-marked Chinook with a quota of 2,181 (1,800 in 2022 and 1,382 in 2021). More openings—July 20-22 and July 27-29—could occur after the initial three-day opener is assessed by WDFW. Hatchery coho fishing is set to reopen August 1-31 and September 1-30 for a non-select coho fishery, which is a change from 2022 when the late summer fishery was directed for hatchery coho only.

Keep in mind there are many other salmon fishing options closer to the Seattle/Tacoma metropolis.

South-central Puget Sound (Marine Area 11) is open daily starting July 1 for hatchery Chinook where the June opener started off well, although as summer progresses it tends to be off and on as migrating fish return in waves. During last month’s hatchery Chinook fishery, catches were decent off Point Defiance Park in Tacoma; just outside of Gig Harbor at a spot referred to as the Flats; Point Dalco on the southwest side of Vashon Island, Colvos Passage near the Girl Scout Camp; and outside of Quartermaster Harbor. Other good Area 11 options are the southeast side of Vashon Island; Point Robinson; Dolphin Point on the northeast side of Vashon Island; Redondo Beach; and south of the Southworth Ferry Landing.

The coho fishery in Marine Area 10, which opened on June 1, has been decent for coho averaging 2 to 4 pounds in the shipping lanes off Jefferson Head, Kingston-Apple Tree Point, from Edmonds oil docks south to Richmond Beach, West Point south of Shilshole Bay, and along the east side of Bainbridge Island.

Hatchery Chinook fishing south of the Narrows Bridge in southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) remains fair at times at Gibson Point, Hale Passage, and Point Fosdick. All the coastal ports that opened in late June—Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay (Marine Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4)— should be generating good opportunities all summer long for a mix of Chinook and hatchery coho.

Before hitting up your favorite fishing hole, be sure to check the regulations for any updates or emergency closures. In the next issue of the magazine, I’ll dive into August salmon fishing options including an expected return of nearly 4 million pink salmon as the number of angling opportunities expands heading to the peak of summer. I’ll see you on the water very soon, and—“fish on!”

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