Editor’s note 1: Following up on his trip there in late June, our ad salesmen Jim Klark returned to Westport last weekend for salmon fishing and filed the following blog.
By Jim Klark
You will learn three things by reading this blog.
1.) Pick the right day and fishing out of Westport can be more like Mexico than you think.
2.) White king salmon do exist in the waters around Washington.
3.) Pinks are showing up all over Northwest waters.
As summer heats up, so does the ocean fishery in and around Washington and Oregon. This last Sunday I fished out of Westport and found that the salmon and tuna fisheries this year shows a lot of promise.
As of this writing, albacore, although spotty, can be found within 40 miles of the coast and in the next few weeks the marauding fish will start biting in earnest for anglers. While tuna are open every day out of this port, salmon is a Sunday-Thursday fishery with a daily limit of two (only one Chinook, release wild coho).
As day broke with an amazing sunrise and mild temps, things got even brighter as the 18 of us anglers enjoyed a flat, calm day on the waters off Westport. Yes, that’s right — flat and calm. In fact, many boats saw T-shirt weather and mill-pond-flat water. Mike Harris, captain of the Fury, allowed that it even reminded him of Mexico.
That thought went through the minds of many as at 6:30 a.m. the first salmon of many that day was netted, reminding us that we need not check our passports.
Several wild silvers were caught and released by this group and as the fish count piled, up we proceeded to another “hot spot” that Harris knew of away from the rest of the many boats that dotted the water this amazing day. As soon as we dropped our lines into the water four fish were hooked — all big kings. A gentleman on the starboard side of the boat netted a fish close to 28 pounds.
“Do you have your derby ticket?” the captain asked.
Westport offers a jackpot for the biggest king salmon caught each weekend. For a $5 investment in a ticket, and a little luck, you can walk away with a $500 jackpot.
As I pondered this, line suddenly screamed off my reel and after a 15-minute dance around the rail of the boat, I was rewarded with a 24-pound wild king.
We later found that this was indeed a “white king.” The flesh of these fish is white in hue rather than the orange we usually see in salmon. About 1 percent of the salmon population shows this color variation. No one knows for sure why, but I’ve seen them in Southeast Alaska, and in speaking with several people in the industry, there is belief that many come from the Fraser River in B.C.
As we returned to the docks, somewhat sunburned, we found that the day out of Westport had been one of the most rewarding of the year for many others as well.
Oh, and how’d that 28-pounder place in the jackpot? Well, unfortunately for the angler, the winning fish that day was almost 30 pounds.
Anglers, don’t forget the Washington Tuna Classic is Aug. 27. This IGFA offshore qualifying event helps several charity groups including the Wounded Warrior Project and the Northwest Harvest Foodbank. You can register online at washingtontunaclassic.com.
There are plenty of great places to stay and eat in Westport – motels, hotels, RV parks and even roomy condos like the Ocean Shores Condos.
You can get more information by visiting beachcombersnw.com.
Editor’s note 2: Wendy Beeghley, WDFW’s fish checker for the coast, generally echoes Jim Klark’s hot report.
“Relative to the previous weekend, it was awesome,” she reports late this morning. ” People in private boats did especially well. It was over a fish a rod, not quite a limit. A lot of Chinook, nice Chinook.”
She says that on Saturday, anglers were doing well out of Ilwaco, but except for those who headed north on Sunday, it faded, but picked back up on Monday.
Overall, effort has been down, but as the reports hit the street and we come into the better fishing period, that’s picking up, she says.
Still, if you’re in Pugetropolis and don’t have the gas money to head for the coast but want to get out for salmon, this Saturday, July 16, marks the Central Puget Sound mark-selective Chinook fishery in parts of Areas 9 and 10. The past couple openers, the best bite has been at Midchannel Bank off Port Townsend.