Experts point to two more good weeks of pink salmon fishing around Whidbey

Chris Bolin of Oak Harbor isn’t satisfied with just one pink salmon that he caught Wednesday night at Keystone in Coupeville.  - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Chris Bolin of Oak Harbor isn’t satisfied with just one pink salmon that he caught Wednesday night at Keystone in Coupeville.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Even though Chris Bolin has fished from the beaches of Whidbey Island nearly every day this month, he’s still astounded by the scenery.

He set down his pole and took a photo with his phone of a wispy white cloud formation at sunset Wednesday, then snapped another shot of a full moon that appeared in the sky a short time later.

“This is the best kept secret in the world,” Bolin said as he stood on a log at Keystone beach in Coupeville. “I don’t think I’ve fished anywhere on this planet with the scenery this place has. And it’s different every day.”

Bolin found the fishing to be decent too as he landed a pink salmon earlier in the evening, figuring it was the ninth salmon he’s caught in August.

Still, he was told by some local longtime Whidbey Island anglers that the best is yet to come.

An estimated 6.2 million pink salmon were expected to return to Puget Sound this summer with the largest numbers anticipated to arrive around the middle of August.

Bob Crouch, longtime island fisherman and sporting goods employee at Sebo’s hardware store in Bayview, said Wednesday that the fishing has been good, but he believes it hasn’t reached its peak yet.

“It hasn’t peaked,” Crouch said. “We usually have humpies here till the end of August and maybe a few in September and that’s usually when the silvers take over. There’s been quite a few of those showing up already. It’s been a good mix.”

Crouch said he caught four silvers and one pink along the beach at Bush Point during his days off Sunday and Monday. He said he landed the two silvers on Sunday during low slack tide using a green Rotator lure.

He said others started hooking fish around the same time.

“As soon as the tide started moving one way, they started slamming them like crazy,” Crouch said.

Crouch said his fishing companion then borrowed his pole and caught a 9-pound silver with the same setup.

Kevin Petersen, another island fishing expert and employee at Ace Hardware in Oak Harbor, said Thursday he’s getting mixed reports about whether the best of the pink salmon fishing this summer is over.

But one sign that historically points to continued good fishing around Whidbey Island are reports from Sekiu that pinks are still abundant.

“That’s a sign that there will still be two more weeks of fishing,” Petersen said.

Petersen said there also is “fantastic” river fishing for kings at the mouth of the Samish and for pinks on the lower Skagit.

He said fishing for silvers in saltwater will continue through September and even into October at Lagoon Point, Bush Point and Keystone. He said silvers are more of the prize catch.

“I’d trade you five pinks for a silver any day,” Petersen said. “The table value is far superior.”

All June Davis was hoping for Wednesday night was a nibble from one pink.

She and her husband Richard, from Freeland, were fishing along the beach at Keystone tossing pink Buzz Bombs into the surf.

June had just missed catching her first pink of the year days earlier but lost it just before it got into the net.

“All my friends are getting fish,” June said. “I think you have to put your time in. So I’m putting my time in.”

Newcomers to salmon fishing were giving it a shot, too.

Shawna Newman of Oak Harbor brought her two sons, Justyn and Erik. Just down the beach was Oak Harbor’s Dan Johnson with his 7-year-old son Ben.

“We left the girls at home,” Dan said.

Up to four pink salmon may be caught per day. Only single, barbless hooks may be used. Anglers are mostly tossing out pink artificial lures such as Buzz Bombs and Rotators to try to catch the pinks, though green lures also are working and seem to be the preference for silvers.

Bolin, from Crossville, Tenn., had never fished in the saltwater until the Navy brought him to Whidbey Island. But now he’s hooked.

As he talked about the picturesque surroundings, his line tightened and pole bent. But in an instant, the salmon was gone.

Bolin tossed his line again in the same area and his voice got quiet.

“I wonder if that boy’s going to give me a second chance,” he said.


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