Humpy heaven at Keystone

The fish were biting and anglers were out in force as the first big salmon runs of the summer season made their way through Admiralty Inlet Sunday morning.

Beach anglers stood nearly shoulder-to-shoulder along the rocky shore casting pink Buzz Bombs and other sure-fire lures into the water at high tide, while numerous boats of varying sizes worked the deeper waters of the inlet.

Even a sea lion was observed off shore claiming his part of the harvest.

Every odd-numbered year pink salmon, also known as humpies for the shape of the male’s back, return to Puget Sound in droves. And when they arrive, there are always plenty of anglers awaiting.

Just before high tide, Jim Schoenborn from Oak Harbor was one of the first anglers to haul a fish out of the water.

“The runs are heavy,” he said with a laugh. “Not really, it’s been kind of slow out here today. A few guys have caught some and things should be picking up here in a little bit.”

Salmon angling at Keystone Sunday morning was a family affair for 13-year-old Oak Harbor resident Jonathan Hernkind.

Hernkind said they had been fishing since 6 a.m. and had caught two so far.

“I’m here with my dad and my sister, my aunt and uncle and my cousins,” he said.

“I caught one and my son caught one,” said his father, Matthew. “We’re working on it.”

Just then, Jonathan’s cousin, Mirinda, had her pole bend sharply and she shouted she had one on the line.

With the help of her father, the 12-year-old got her silvery catch to shore.

“This is my first one of the year,” she said with a big smile.

Wayne Watkins had plenty of help when he reeled in his first fish of the day.

Assisting the Oak Harbor resident were his wife, Lori, friend Bill Blodgett and the Watkins’ dog, Peanut.

“We’ve been out here since about 7:30 this morning,” Lori Watkins said. “This is the first one my husband caught and it has nice rainbow colors on the sides. It sure is a pretty fish.”

Peanut, a cross between a dachshund and a chihuahua, barked furiously at the fish that was larger than she was, but wasn’t sure whether she should assist in getting the salmon untangled from the dip net.

“We call her a Chihweiner dog,” Watkins said. “She is so fierce.”

Wayne Watkins said he was sure the fish was a humpy when he caught it. “It swam right at me, silvers will go the other way,” he said.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports this year’s salmon run should be one of the best in several years for Whidbey Island anglers.

The ideal time to try your luck is an hour before to an hour after high tide.

Popular locations for bank fishing on Whidbey Island include Fort Casey, Keystone Spit and West Beach.

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