First two things that happened at the office this morning: A pink-salmon-fishing-report request for the Snohomish, and a pink report from the as-yet-to-open Duwamish.
Relax, Cenci, the latter was just word that our Brian Lull saw a couple splashing there this morning, the first time he’s seen jumpers along the Seattle river on his way back and forth to work this summer.
The Duwamish opens this Saturday, Aug. 20, from the 1st Ave. South bridge upstream to I-405, and if it’s like other Puget Sound rivers, plenty of humpies are already in and have somehow escaped the notice of Eagle Eyes Lull.
Sharp eyes inspecting the regulations pamphlet will also see that the inner Elliott Bay fishery below 1st St. opens tomorrow for Friday-Sunday fishing, and I have a sneaking suspicion it will be busy — especially the famous/infamous Spokane Street Bridge scene.
“Everyone lined up at Lincoln Park (in West Seattle) is waiting for it to open,” says Tim Bush at Outdoor Emporium (206-624-6550), a hop, skip, jump and couple leaps from Spokane Street and our office.
AT ITS BEST, THE SPOKANE STREET BRIDGE FISHERY OFFERS A GORGEOUS VIEW OF THE CITY AND MASSIVE NUMBERS OF EASY-TO-CATCH SALMON. (TERRY WIEST, SALMONUNIVERSITY.COM)
There, the trick is to cast and jig back 1/4-ounce leadhead jigs with a pink skirt, or small, holographic pink or straight pink Buzz Bombs.
Out on Elliott, spot jumpers and cast that tackle, or just drag small glo or pink hoochies 15 to 16 inches behind a white 8- or 11-inch flasher.
As with elsewhere in Puget Sound, single, barbless hooks are required in the saltwater and up to 1st St. Bridge.
While Ebay offers room to roam, it will be much more crowded at Spokane Street, charitably described as an “urban combat fishery.”
Asked about it, the local game warden Eric Olson laughs and says, “Spokane Street is …”
“It’s a zoo. It’s a blood bath. It’s ugly,” adds his boss, Mike Cenci, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Deputy Chief for enforcement. “It’s not much of an experience.’
ANGLERS FISH FROM THE PIER BELOW SPOKANE STREET BRIDGE. (TERRY WIEST, SALMONUNIVERSITY.COM)
He warns that his officers will be doing emphasis patrol there — “We’re already down there,” adds Sgt. Russ Mullins — and we can almost guarantee that the media will be shining a klieg light on the scene, as in this 2009 TV report that found its way all the way to stations in the Lilac City.
“It’s 100 to 130 yards long and you get 200-plus people all fishing on it at the same time,” says Olson, who is Seattle’s lone fish and wildlife enforcement officer. “Every officer in the area dreads it.”
Game wardens are at Spokane Street because it marks the pinch point between a low return of ESA-listed Chinook that led fishery managers to close king retention in the river and Elliott Bay for sport anglers; a massive 2-million-strong run of pink salmon; the first place bankies can really access humpies; crabbers; shady crabbers; thousands upon thousands of hooks; upstanding anglers hoping to limit out; fishermen of lesser character; illegal fish sellers and buyers; and other unsavory sorts who nonetheless may/will be painted by the media as us.
“Probably the biggest problem is the snagging,” says Cenci. “It’s essentially unsportsmanlike conduct when you’re snagging next to someone who is fishing legitimately. We’ve seen a few (snagged) Chinook that walk off.”
Unlike 2009, the last time the odd-year pinks came through, this season Chinook are off-limits altogether and anglers may not use bait or hooks that are wider than 1/2 inch from point to shank.
And there are additional rules — a night closure, forage-fish jig-gear ban, anti-snagging rule and stipulation that only salmon hooked inside the mouth can be kept from the 1st Ave. South bridge downstream to an imaginary line between SW Hanford Street on the mainland and Harbor Island.
There are similar restrictions on up the Duwamish/Green as well to be aware of.
Officers with excellent optics are there to make sure everything is on the up and up — or as much as they possibly can.
“We try and ensure an orderly fishery,” says Cenci.
Already this humpy season, there have been some lowlights at Browns Point Park near Tacoma.
“People have been leaving garbage, hooks, broken glass and even defecating in people’s yards!” reported Tom Pollack at Sportco (253-922-2222) in Fife on SalmonUniversity.com.
WDFW sent three officers out, and Cenci says that the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office “graciously” tasked several deputies to work the area as well.
Perhaps that took care of the problem, perhaps the arrival of pinks in the Puyallup River around the corner did.
“It’s been outstanding,” reports Randy Anderson, also at Sportco. “In the river, they’re doing really well.”
The “loads and loads of people” are doing best drift-fishing Corkies and yarn, primarily in pink shades, he says.
A few kings have been hooked as well, making quick work of trout-sized tackle.
As for Snohomish River pinks that I mentioned at the top of this blog, a buddy emailed this morning wondering about where to hit it this weekend. According to Ted’s Sports Center (425-743-9505), it’s fishy throughout, from Langus Waterfront Park in Everett up to the Highway 522 bridge.
“In the lower river, 2 and 21/2 inch Buzz Bombs and Wannabees have been overall the lure of choice. In the upper portion of the river pink lead head jigs with pink, pink and white or white tails of marabou or lead heads with squid bodies of the same color combinations,” the Lynnwood shop’s blog reports.
That said, last weekend’s catches out of Everett at the mouth of the Snohomish were, well, on par with 2007. On a mid-August Sunday at this point of 2009’s whopper run, six times as many were brought back to the 10th St. ramp (1,070 on Aug. 16, 2009 vs. 173 on Aug. 14, 2011).
The Everett Herald‘s longtime outdoor reporter Wayne Kruse reports the big run may be stalled out of Port Angeles and the eastern Straits. A Canadian news service speculates that the return to southern BC waters may be two weeks late.
With the Duwamish opening and more pinks entering the Puyallup and Snohomish Rivers, we anglers have the opportunity to improve upon our tarred image from 2009’s salmon runs.
Even if the TV reporters are distracted by the latest news of the moment and pay us not a lick of attention, pick up yours and others’ trash, don’t poop anywhere but in a pooper, don’t snag, don’t overlimit.
Follow the rules, don’t trespass, be courteous to fellow fishermen, landowners and other river users, don’t take crap from those who would cloud our reputation.
In short, be a good sportfishing ambassador.