The changing of the seasons is one of the best parts about living in the Northwest, and October is one of my favorite months. From the beginning of the crisp, cool air in the mornings, to the evening of Halloween, it’s a time when everything feels special.
Fall fishing in general is a transition for anglers away from the salt to the rivers, and there’s still a lot of boating and fishing opportunities to be had. I haven’t winterized a boat of mine in years and don’t plan on starting now.
Coho and chum salmon provide some opportunities in the saltwater this time of year as do resident Chinook or blackmouth, as the winter variants are called. Some areas in Puget Sound and British Columbia can provide open seasons and good fishing. Do your research and plan to chase fish in local waters or some place a bit farther. Many marinas have discounted rates for the so called “shoulder seasons” that start in October. Fish in the morning and be back in time to warm up and catch the football kickoff. Believe it or not, albacore tuna fishing can still be productive off the coast when the weather allows. Throw some longfins in the mix during canning season for a real treat!
Still bright and fresh, salmon can provide good fun when river fishing. Twitching jigs have become the go-to method for many anglers, especially for silvers. Simply put, this means casting out and retrieving a jig while twitching it up and down. It’s fun and productive!
Chum salmon are usually willing biters and always hard fighters in the river. After a morning of catching and releasing “dogs,” your arms will almost be too tired to hold that lunchtime sandwich. And don’t forget about Chinook salmon fishing on the Columbia River. October is the time when places like the Hanford Reach really heat up. For something different, the Fraser River in British Columbia can be good for sturgeon in the fall. If you don’t have a river boat or have never plied the big streams, going with a guide is a great way to spend the day and learn.
While you’ve got time to spare this fall—we are heading into gift-giving season, and I’d like to bring up a simple solution to a common problem that could be a wonderful gift. When traveling to different destinations on a larger mother ship vessel, hauling and launching a tender for fishing can present certain problems. Storage can take up a lot of space, and towing can be problematic, especially in rough weather and docking. Launching a heavy tender can have its logistical and safety issues. How about bringing along a couple of kayaks that are set up for angling?
Kayak fishing has really grown in popularity in the last decade. Stories and pictures of anglers with large salmon or halibut caught from a kayak have drawn admiration for this challenging pursuit. All kayaks can be paddle driven, but many use peddles or even a small electric motor for propulsion. Chart plotters, fish finders, rod holders, tackle storage, fish storage…there have been a lot of fish-specific additions and improvements to the angling-specific kayak.
There are clubs and online resources to help research how to get started in this adventurous fishing realm. Of course, safety when kayaking is always paramount. Reading weather reports and checking tidal currents should be done before setting out for the day. Tidal currents can be very strong along the West Coast and up into the islands and interior waters.
Also, as with any type of boating, being cognizant of other vessel traffic should be a top priority. Pack water, food, and provisions while kayak fishing. Dress for the occasion and expect it to be a tad chillier out there closer to the water. A dry or wet suit may be a good idea and a good personal floation device is a must!
Another use for those kayaks, when not on the big boat, can be freshwater fishing. Trout or bass in lakes can provide fun fishing from a kayak. October can be a great month for bass fishing around the Northwest. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass are feeding heavily to put on weight for the winter. Tackle and tactics are simple, with spinner baits and plastics being the go-to. Cast ‘em out, reel ‘em back in. Vary speed of retrieval to try and draw a strike.
Bass are really fun to catch. They strike hard and fight well. If you have a lake nearby or want to make a little different jaunt, this species may be a good option to mix things up.
So, that’s a wrap for opportunities for an awesome October. The crowds have thinned, and the pace has slowed. The weather can still be phenomenal during the day and a heater on the boat can warm those mornings. Until next time, let’s get out there and go get some!