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FINS, FUR & FEATHERS: Plenty of holiday fishing available
With the long holiday weekend (for those lucky enough to get Thursday and Friday off), there are plenty of activities out there for those who wish to get out and experience the all the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Some good news from the fisheries biologists is that they expect a banner year for this summers salmon anglers. The department is expecting a run of over 750,000 Chinook salmon up the Columbia this summer, the largest since 1948.
You need not go down there for the only quality salmon fishing though. The Tulalip Bubble has been reporting decent catches and this should continue through the summer months. The bubble opened on June 30 and the surrounding Marine Areas have opened or will be opening shortly and there should be ample opportunities throughout.
Starting on July 12, the inner area of Elliot Bay will open and a strong run is expected in the Duwamish-Green River system. Other local areas that deserve consideration would be areas around Possession Sound and areas in the San Juans. The west side of San Juan Island is always a popular choice for anglers and this year will be no different.
Before venturing into the islands to do some fishing, consult this years regulations. The area around the islands is broken into a couple of different zones that have staggered opening dates. It is important that you are absolutely certain the area you are fishing in and remember that bag and size limits apply to the Marine Area the fish is caught, not where you launch/recover your boat.
Big fish in the straits
If you are interested in catching really big fish, then Seiku should be in your plans. A decent season is expected in the Strait, with the areas around Seiku seeing fish in excess of 40 pounds! Again be sure to read the regulations very carefully here. Even though the Strait opened on July 1, Chinook cannot be retained until July 8 and then only in Area 5, plus all chum and coho with an intact adipose fin must be released. If all of this sounds confusing, it can be. I could spend an entire page on the differences between Marine Area salmon seasons, so it is imperative that you fully read and understand the regs before you head out.
By far the best salmon fishing is expected to be on the coast. Areas outside of Westport should be a bevy of activity with the opener. As is the case with the run up the Columbia, this is the largest run expected in over 50 years.
One of the biggest challenges will be to catch the large number of Chinook before the quota on coho is met. The state and many of the charter boat captains are working in conjunction to provide the latest information on where the fishing is best. It benefits everybody if as many people get out and enjoy the large run of fish, so getting information on where to go and what to use will be easier than it ever has been. Drive over to Westport and you will be sure to find plenty of information on this ample run of fish.
Baker Lake is the place
For those who wish to stay in the freshwater, the fishing keeps getting better. Baker Lake is historically very busy this time of year. The state usually plants rainbows just prior to the holiday so there should be ample fish for anyone lucky enough to have a spot secured. In addition to the planted rainbows, I would stop by the guys at Holiday Sports and pick up the necessary equipment and target the many kokanee that live in the chilly water. Dont forget to pick up some chum to help attract the fish.
While camping over at Baker, pick up a Green Trails map and start looking at some of the area lakes. Many of the upper elevation lakes should be starting to open up and if you have a good fly rod, some fun fishing in crystal clear water awaits. Blue Lake just off Forest Service Road 12 has always been a favorite for me and the kids to try. At times we have caught fish there when Baker wasnt producing.
For those wanting to get into summer-run steelhead, pray for some dry weather and wait for the rivers to drop down into fishable shape. With all the run-off the fishing has been difficult.
If you are lucky enough to have the holiday off, get out and enjoy some time outdoors. It wont be long before we are all complaining about the dark, wet dreary days of fall.