It’s the start of 2018, and there are plenty of on-water salmon fishing activities to ring in during the New Year!
If you catch my drift, this isn’t a time to sit back on the couch in front of a fireplace or TV as winter chinook fishing is hitting full-stride, and the table quality of these fish are like non-other to be had on the BBQ grill.
Keep in mind closing dates on many fishing areas mentioned below could hinge on catch guidelines or encounter limits for both sub-legal and legal-size chinook that often make or break if anglers can fish for hatchery-produced salmon. This unfortunate situation came to fruition in November for two northern marine areas when the sub-legal catch skyrocketed.
On that note, my word of advice is to go sooner than later, which will likely guarantee you more time on the water.
The San Juan Islands (Marine Catch Area 7) opened Jan. 1 with fishing allowed through April 30 for hatchery chinook.
Let me stand on my soapbox and preach to you about the island chain being as close as you can get to awesome scenery and wildlife viewing that is very similar to Alaska’s coastline. And let’s not forget there’s a decent chance to catch a quality large-size chinook just minutes from nearby boat ramps or marinas.
A good gauge on success in the islands will occur when hundreds of anglers hit the water for the Resurrection Salmon Derby – part of the NMTA’s Northwest Salmon Derby Series – on Jan. 5-7 in Anacortes at Cap Sante Marina. This is followed by the already sold-out Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Jan. 18-20. For details on all derbies, go to: https://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/derbies/.
Closer to Seattle is central Puget Sound (Area 10) which has been quietly producing some fair to good action at places like Southworth, Allen Bank off Blake Island, Manchester, Rich Passage, West Point, Jefferson Head and Point Monroe. The closure date for 10 is Feb. 28.
Back in mid-November, northern Puget Sound (Area 9) fell victim to the huge sub-legal chinook (fish under the 22-inch minimum size limit) encounter rate and was shut-down until further notice.
Area 9 was scheduled to reopen for hatchery chinook from Jan. 16 through April 15. Areas 8-1 and 8-2 – eastside of Whidbey Island – also experienced a set-back in November, and was supposed to reopen sometime this month. Keep an eye out for an announcement by WDFW very soon.
Don’t overlook south-central (Area 11), Hood Canal (Area 12) and southern Puget Sound (Area 13), which are all open now through April 30. Other winter chinook fisheries on the “must go” list are western Strait (Area 5) from March 16 to April 30; and eastern Strait (Area 6) from March 1 to April 15.
Salmon politics started brewing on Dec. 1 when fishery managers released the 368-page Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan.
This fishing plan – sent to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries for review – and guides conservation and harvest of Puget Sound chinook salmon from the ocean clear into inner-marine waterways takes effect from 2019 through 2029.
The controversial plan has raised issues and many in sport-fishing industry are concerned that the plan could adversely affect sport salmon fishing opportunities.
There is an 18-month public comment period, and this will surely be a hot topic of many debates in the months to come. To view the comprehensive plan, go to: https://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01947/wdfw01947.pdf.
Seattle Boat Show drops anchor at three locations
The Seattle Boat Show, from Jan. 26 through Feb. 3, is the one-stop place to get your fix on hundreds of fishing boats, informative seminars, and state-of-the-art gear and electronics.
There will be 55 free fishing seminars and more coverage on a variety of new topics by top-notch experts that will provide anglers with the most in-depth wealth of knowledge on how to catch fish across the Pacific Northwest. For a complete list of all fishing and boating seminars, go to: https://seattleboatshow.com/seminars/.
This will also be a time when visitors can check out the NW Salmon Derby Series grand prize $65,000 KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with a Honda 150hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer. The fully-rigged boat comes with Scotty downriggers; Raymarine electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronic Stereo.
There are 15 derby events in Washington, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada, and the drawing for the grand prize boat will take place at the conclusion of the Everett Derby in September or November. For derby details, go to: https://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.
I’ll see you on the water or at the biggest boat show on the West Coast, the great Seattle Boat Show!