North Puget Sound: Anglers are reeling in chinook in Puget Sound, where crabbing is still an option and two additional marine areas open for salmon Aug. 1. Others are also having some success at Baker Lake, which opened for sockeye salmon July 10 and remains open through Sept 7.
Salmon projections indicate a solid season right into autumn. Summer and fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total nearly 283,000 fish.
Anglers should have a good chance of catching chinook and coho this year, said Ryan Lothrop, recreational salmon fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Sockeye runs are also impressive, with some 23 million returning to the Fraser River, many swimming past our area.
An additional 873,000 Puget Sound coho are expected to return this summer, adds Lothrop, and they typically start to show up in August.
Where to start? Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) open Aug. 1 with a daily limit of two salmon, and a requirement to release chinook.
Most of marine area 7(San Juan Islands) is open as of August 1. One of the exceptions is Bellingham Bay in the San Juans, which opens August 16, with a daily limit of four salmon, two of which may be chinook.
Also in marine area 7, and marine areas 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point), and 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), anglers can bag an additional two sockeye as the peak run develops early to mid-August.
Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) remain open to salmon fishing in August.
Fishing with two poles is a great way to have two lures in the water in order to try different techniques and depths to see what works, said Lothrop. The Sinclair Inlet in Marine Area 10 and the Tulalip Bubble in Marine Area 8-2 are two of the many areas in the state that allow two pole fishing with purchase of a two-pole endorsement.
The Puget Sound crab fishery is also under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab Aug. 15. All marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week except in Marine Area 13, where crabbing is allowed seven days a week. Additionally, opportunities to harvest spot shrimp continue in Marine Area 6 (outside of the Discovery Bay Shrimp District) and Marine Area 7 West seven days a week through Sept. 15, so long as sufficient quota remains. A portion of Marine area 7 South is also open for spot shrimp through August 3 as detailed in this rule change.
If you want to try two-pole angling in freshwater, anglers fishing Baker Lake can practice two pole fishing with purchase of the endorsement. At Baker, anglers are allowed to retain up to three adult sockeye that exceed 18 inches in length from the log boom barrier at Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the upper Baker River. All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.
Fishing for trout and salmon also opens on the Samish River Aug. 1. The department reminds anglers to avoid snagging fish, avoid trespassing, and keep the river and banks clean. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained. Details on fishing the Samish River are available on page 25 of the Fish Washington pamphlet.
Though many anglers focus on burgeoning opportunities for salmon in mid-to-late summer, August is also a great time to pursue yellow perch, bass, bluegill and catfish in lowland lakes.
With warmer water temperatures, anglers should seek deepwater structure such as ledges and weed lines to find warmwater species during the heat of the day, says Danny Garrett, WDFW lead warmwater fisheries biologist. In clearer lakes, such as Lake Washington, start your search for perch and bass in 15 to 20 feet of water. In shallower lakes with stained water, such as Lake Cassidy, look for fish along the weed edge in five to 10 feet of water.
Yellow perch is a species that will bite throughout the day, so perch fishing is a great way to introduce kids to the sport.
Though many trout fisheries have slowed with rising water temperatures, anglers in pursuit of trout or kokanee are still finding bountiful harvests in deeper Puget Sound lowland waters.
Try trolling for these fishes below the thermocline with common gear such as wedding rings, woolly buggers, hoochies, and even bare hooks baited with shoepeg corn behind a dodger--usually 12 to 30 inches--at slow speeds, says WDFW biologist, Justin Spinelli. Remember that kokanee, in particular, migrate vertically in the water column as they pursue invertebrates so try various depths until you find the schools.
With the great variety of fishing available, summer is a terrific time to take a fishing vacation with friends and family. The fish are waiting, along with many other attractions and accommodations that make for unforgettable vacations. WDFW makes planning easy with its "Great Washington Getaways" web feature.