Decent salmon year predicted

Beginning tomorrow, July 1, anglers in Marine Area 6 along the northwest coast of Whidbey Island and in Area 7 around the San Juan Islands will have the opportunity to drop their lines in the water for the opening of salmon season.

Those opting to fish area 8-1 around Deception Pass and Skagit Bay, and 8-2 in the Port Susan, Port Gardner and the Saratoga Passage areas, will have to wait until Aug. 1.

Area 9 around Admiralty Inlet, including the popular Double Bluff location along the southwest coast, opens July 16.

No matter where you choose to go, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife predicts this should be a good year and Puget Sound should be swimming with salmon.

Making conditions even better, 2007 is also the year for pink salmon returns. Reports from fish biologists indicate nearly twice as many pinks, also known as humpies, as in 2005 will be returning this year.

In Areas 6, 7 and 9, chinook salmon must be a minimum of 22 inches in length to be retained. Other areas have no minimum size requirements on other salmon species.

In Area 8-1, anglers are required to release chinook and pinks, and the handling rule is in effect for both species.

Anglers should check the state sport fishing pamphlet for additional rules and regulations.

At Ace Hardware in Oak Harbor, the hot spot for fishing gear and information on Whidbey Island, Ken Petersen said the salmon season will likely be one of the better ones in years.

“Speaking with biologists and people who are aware of ocean conditions, apparently the fry that made it out of the rivers and made it to the Bering Sea up north did very, very well,” he said. “We’ll have a nice king return this year.”

Petersen said there should also be decent silver fishing in 2007.

“It couldn’t be any worse than it was last year,” he said. “Last year was the worst year for salmon fishing I’ve seen in 20 years. It can only be better this time.”

Marine areas surrounding Whidbey Island present challenges to anglers in search of salmon.

Around the San Juan Islands, the challenge is the diverse geography. However, the west side of San Juan Island off Lime-Kiln Point to Pile Point, Presidents Channel, Rosario and Haro straits, the north end of Orcas Island at Point Doughty and Thompson Point near Parker Reef are reportedly all good areas for catching kings, pinks and coho.

In the Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay areas, the early season is normally spotty for coho but things pick up in late July and August.

Down south around Shipwreck and Possession Point are two popular areas for pinks in August and coho in September. The new boat ramp at Bush Point is supposed to be ready for salmon season.

Petersen said there have been some accidental catches of salmon reported at the store in the past few weeks during the ling cod and halibut seasons.

“You set up a similar rig using darter jigs when you fish for halibut and ling cod, and salmon will readily take that type of jig as well,” he said. “Guys accidentally caught some very nice, large salmon. That tells me there are fish out there and we are going to have a decent year.”

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