FISH, FUR & FOWL: Whidbey's west side open for salmon season

With everyone’s freezers stocked up on crab and/or clams, salmon fishing will prove a welcome break for local sport fishers.

As of July 1 Marine Areas 6 and 7 are opened to salmon fishing and Area 9 will open on July 16, giving anglers the entire west side of the island to fish.

For those looking for tips, local sporting clubs can be a valuable source of information for fishing and hunting. With members who share interests along with a variety of guest speakers, you are sure to find the answers to just about any question you might have.

The monthly meeting for the Whidbey Island Fishin’ Club was one such meeting I recently attended.

D.J. Stevens gave a presentation on downrigger techniques, some of which I will share with you.

When fishing for King salmon you must get your downrigger on or near the bottom as they will feed on their favorite bait, candle fish. Once you have your bait down, set your troll at around three knots. Be sure to get good nautical maps that show depths and stick to a trolling path that will keep you at the same depth. A good trolling pattern is one that resembles a figure eight. Make slow turns so you lines will not get tangled.

Silvers are a bit different as they tend to like the faster herring so you’ll need to troll a little faster. Look for seagulls or other sea birds that will flock around large bait balls. Stevens said his rule of thumb is to stay the same distance away from the bait ball as is from the downrigger set. The depth will be determined by the fish finder. If your fish finder shows fish at 40 feet be sure to set your downrigger at 40 feet. Never run your boat through the middle of the bait ball as this will cause the bait to scatter and the salmon will be pushed to the bottom.

As for your rig this is a matter of preference. Over and over again Stevens stated that if you are confident with your choice of lure or bait then it is going to work for you. If you ask, the folks at your local sporting goods store will recommend a good setup.

I will share some more of Stevens’ tips with you in the next article, which will include jigging for salmon and the types of salmon you will encounter. Thanks D.J. for all the good information. Good fishing to all and be safe.

Hunting report

August 1 marks the beginning of the hunting season for bear and cougar. Be sure to get out to the range and practice, practice, practice. Local clubs offer all types of shooting ranges to their members. Both the North and Central Whidbey sportsman associations have rifle, trap and pistol ranges free for use by members and their guests.

September has numerous hunting opportunities and I will be sure to discuss those in upcoming articles.

Local clubs can e-mail me at the address below if you have an event that you would like to announce.

Best of luck to everyone and I hope to see you out on the water. Be a courteous and safe sportsman too. Be sure to send pictures, recipes, stories or even a comment or two to I look forward to hearing from you.

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