Washington anglers weighing-in with saltwater salmon records


Mar 11, 2001
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Thursday, September 13, 2001

Anglers weigh in with saltwater salmon records

By Mark Yuasa, Seattle Times staff reporter.

Breaking a state salmon record has become a common occurrence this summer.

Last Saturday, Milo Walker of Port Angeles caught a 21 pound, 13 ounce coho salmon near Sekiu on the Olympic Peninsula.

Walker and partner Wiley Jones of Port Angeles hooked into the huge coho at 10:15 a.m., in the shipping lanes in 582 feet of water, about two miles north of Sekiu.

"I saw the tail flash as it jumped out of the water, and thought, hey, that's a big one," Walker said. "I've been fishing at Sekiu over 20 years, and this is my best day on the water in 10 years."

In order to make it an official record, Walker took the coho to the Clallam Bay Grocery store to have it weighed on a certified scale. He then had it verified by state Fish and Wildlife officials at Olson's Resort.

In other record-shattering news, the state chum salmon mark was set and broken twice by two anglers fishing off Westport.

On July 18, Patrick Allen of Poulsbo, caught what was then a state record chum that weighed 20-3/4 pounds. Allen was fishing aboard the Tequila Too with Captain Kenneth Culver.

Then on Aug. 6, Fred Dockendorf of Stanwood, was fishing about 12 miles southwest of Westport when he hooked a monster chum aboard the charter Freedom run by Captain Chuck Custer.

Dockendorf's fished weighed 25.26 pounds, and was verified by state Fish and Wildlife officials.

Another state record in jeopardy is the largest saltwater pink salmon.

"There are three pink salmon that are vying for the state record, two are 10-plus pounds and another is 11-plus pounds," said Mike Cuttle, a state Fish and Wildlife spokesman.

The only record that remains untouched this summer is for a king salmon, although a good number of kings in the 40- to 50-plus pound range have been caught this summer. The standing record is a 70-pound, 8-ounce king caught in 1964 by Chet Gausta at Pillar Point.

The unusually large salmon summer had been attributed to ample feed in the ocean, excellent marine conditions and survival, and good outmigration from nesting grounds as juveniles.

Salmon count update

Last Saturday, 26,376 adult fall chinook were counted at the Bonneville Dam fish ladder, and third appears to be the third highest daily count on record. The record was 39,376 fish set Sept. 12, 1987.

The updated Columbia River mouth run sizes are 234,400 upriver bright chinook and 109,000 tule chinook. The preseason forecast was 178,000 brights and 61,900 tules.

Returns of fall jack chinook in the Columbia have been strong with 26,400 brights and 19,400 tules (includes adult-size jacks) through this past Sunday.

In addition, the coho return above Bonneville appears to be at record levels. On Sunday, more than 19,000 coho were counted at Bonneville. So far, 106,000 coho had been counted, and the season total record is 108,649 coho set in 1986.

Top spots of the week

1. Coho and pink salmon Snohomish, Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers: "It is humpie (pinks) city in all the rivers, but anglers need to remember that this is fishing and it is not always a slam dunk," said Curt Kraemer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

2. Coho in local saltwater areas: "Pretty good coho bite in Puget Sound, and one guy I know caught an 11-pounder off the Bush Point shoreline," said Maria Beppu, owner of Linc's Tackle Shop in Seattle.

In Puget Sound, fishing is fair to good for coho off West Point and Meadow Point near Shilshole Bay, the Edmonds Marina, Possession Bar, Bush Point and Fort Casey on the west side of Whidbey Island, Mukilteo to the Shipwreck, Jefferson Head and Point No Point.

3. Coho salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca: "Coho fishing is picking up steam, and we're seeing a good number of fish in the 7- to 12-pound range," said Deanna Mohr at Van Riper's Resort in Sekiu.

Other fair to good coho areas are Freshwater Bay, and in the tide rips and shipping lanes off Port Angeles east to Protection Island.

4. Coho and kings off the coast: "The season looks like it will go through the end of this month, and most anglers are limiting on mainly coho at Ilwaco and Westport," said Wendy Beeghly, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

"Good for big coho at La Push, but the catch rate and hatchery marked rate has dropped off a lot at Neah Bay," Beeghly said.

5. Salmon and steelhead in Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor and Lower Chehalis River: "I fished Grays Harbor on Monday, and we got a 17- and 34-pound king in the boat, plus we lost a king to a seal and lost a coho," said Tony Floor, a state Fish and Wildlife spokesman. "I wouldn't consider it hot along the buoy line, but enough to keep a person interested."

The Lower Chehalis around the 28th Street Bridge has been good for kings, staging on the northside of the shipping channel. The area is plugged with baitfish and the recent gillnet fishery produced about 140 kings per boat, which is four times higher than fisheries officials had predicted.

"I heard the average at Willapa Bay last Saturday was about half-a-fish per person, and anytime you get close to a fish per person that is considered pretty good fishing," Floor said. "Washaway Beach and the estuary near Markers 18 and 19 are best late on the incoming tide."

Fisheries checkers at Tokeland, Hoqiuam and Cosmopolis reported many of kings were 26 to 30-plus pounds.

A gillnet fishery at Willapa Bay reopened last night, but historically a gillnet fishery does not affect the sport salmon catch when both are in progress.

Other fishing spots

San Juan Islands — Fair for mostly pinks, coho and a few kings.

Elliott Bay — Fair for coho at Fourmile Rock and off Alki Point.

Pier and bank fishing — Slow to fair for coho and a few late pinks off North Beach on the north side of Deception Pass, Point No Point shore, Dash Point pier, Edmonds Pier and Seacrest Pier.

South-central Puget Sound — Slowed for kings and the coho haven't arrived in big numbers. Diehards can try the Clay Banks and Point Dalco near Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Blakely Rock, Dolphin Point, Redondo Beach-Des Moines area, Gibson Point, Three Tree Point and Point Robinson.

Southern Puget Sound — Slowed for late kings around the Nisqually Delta green buoy, mouth of McAllister Creek and Anderson Island.

Coastal rivers — A good number of coho entered the rivers after the recent rainfalls, with good fishing reported in recent weeks. The tribal harvest in the Quinault River showed more than 2,700 coho caught in the last two weeks of August, which is well above normal catches for this time of the year. Anglers report a good number of coho in the Clearwater and Queets rivers, and Quillayute river system.

Samish River — Kings are moving into the open areas from the Bayview-Edison Bridge to the Thomas Bridge. Morning low tides are most productive.

Columbia River — "Boat anglers (below Bonneville to Washougal) averaged an adult chinook kept per every 4.6 rods, (and) increasing numbers of hatchery coho are appearing in the catch, primarily around the mouth of the Cowlitz," said Joe Hymer, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Fair boat angling for chinook in Bonneville Pool. Effort and catch has increased for upriver bright chinook in the Hanford Reach area, but more steelhead were caught than chinook.

Cowlitz River — Fair for coho and a few steelhead.

Kalama River — Fair to good for chinook, coho and steelhead. Plenty of coho and steelhead present mainly in the lower river.

Lewis River — "At the mouth, boat anglers are catching fall chinook, coho and steelhead," Hymer said. "Quite a few coho and steelhead are present in the North Fork Lewis."

Washougal — Lots of chinook spread throughout the river, but effort is low.

Drano Lake — Slowed for steelhead, but chinook and coho numbers are increasing.

Klickitat River — Good for coho.

White Salmon River — Boat anglers averaged nearly a hatchery steelhead per rod this past week. More coho are showing up in the bank angler catch.

Lake Washington — "Pretty good for yellow perch in Lake Washington and around the UW Hospital," Beppu said. Try for perch between Leschi and Mount Baker, and around Seward Park. Look for schools of perch gathering along the outer perimeter of weedlines and lily pads.

Mark Yuasa can be reached at 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com.
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