Octoberfest! Nupe, if you’re thinking I’m talking about indulging in a bratwurst and beer. Octoberfest for this cat is saltwater and freshwater salmon fishing, chased with a big Dungeness crab. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
I started writing these monthly columns some six or seven years ago, gently persuaded by my employer, the Northwest Marine Trade Association, who is better known as the producer of the big Seattle Boat Show. The purpose of the columns has continuously been to seize the prospects of fishing opportunities here in the Pacific northwest through sharing and downloading a head-full of knowledge and experience I have inhaled during the last 40 plus years of playing in the salmon fishing game. Yep, I’m getting old!
It was only a year ago, in my October column, when I focused on reflections of the killer summer salmon fishing most of us enjoyed. Ditto for 2013 except for the fact that I talked about it less, and fished more!
Some anglers focus on staying close to the waters of their choice during the summer salmon season, beginning with July. I prefer to mix it up: Neah Bay, Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook at Port Angeles and MidChannel Bank near Port Townsend, topped off with a few days up at Tahsis fishing near Esparanza Inlet. Ahhhhhhh, I love king salmon! And, it rained king salmon!
The big show in August for this angler was the lower Columbia below and above the Astoria Bridge. Six days delivered 18 kings. More king salmon Nirvana.
And then, before I knew it, here comes September, and on to Grays Harbor September 16th for the one week king salmon opener followed by the big coho parade.jumping castle sydney
As I addressed in last month’s column, October can be outstanding for coho fishing throughout the month in both the south and north Channels of Grays Harbor. I tend to fish along the edges of the channels where coho seem to hang. Don’t be concerned about fishing in 15 feet of water, for example, but attempt to troll as close to the deck as possible. Drop sinkers or divers seem to be the preference of getting down near the bottom for most Grays Harbor anglers.
My gear of choice is a six-ounce drop sinker, with about one foot of 30-pound leader off my three-way swivel, followed by a 6-7 foot 20-pound leader to a tight spinning, green label plug cut herring. I believe in the spin, not the roll.
Some anglers believe in using a fish flash attractor, attached directly behind the three way swivel. I have had great success with the new chrome and chartruse Kone Zone fish attractors but they are not mandatory to be successful. Fishing efficiently, close to the bottom, with a tight spinning herring is more important.
The north channel is very underfished, especially from the big concrete dock in Hoquiam, trolling east into the entrance of the Chehalis River and the mouth of the Little Hoquiam River. I like flood tides and I traditionally troll west and east of the mouth of the Little Hoquiam at mid-depth which is 17 pulls with six ounces of lead.
Clearly, October is a smorgasbord of fishing opportunities throughout western Washington. Chinook and coho fishing is approaching prime time in most major rivers which means the Chehalis and Satsop Rivers for this angler.
Out on the saltwater of Puget Sound, particularly in the Point No Point region, it can be a blast fishing for coho, early chum salmon and the new crop of winter blackmouth, now arriving particularly in most areas of the Sound including the San Juans. And you were thinking about taking a break after this incredible summer!
Winter crab season
If you like to winter crab as much as I do, pay attention to a forthcoming announcement from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife about the winter crab season. Most areas, who have crab remaining on their annual allocation, will re-open, seven days a week through the end of the year. Again, by crab catch area, if the entire annual sport catch quota was taken this past summer, it’s game over for the year. That was the case for the Seattle and Hood Canal crabbing regions last year.
Some of the peeps I run with, suggest fall is their favorite time of year. While many of us recognize it as a change of seasons, it is also a time of renewal in the salmon world. Chinook and coho salmon are getting ready to make their contributions to the next generation of their species, while winter blackmouth, for example, weighing around four to 12 pounds are beginning to come “on-line”. These fish will become next summer’s crop of king salmon.
Growing up and living in the Pacific Northwest is just like growing up in Oklahoma… but different. I love this game. See you on the water.