final ocean salmon map:Layout 1
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Possibly the rawest, most remote salmon fishery in the Evergreen State, La Push stays under the radar simply because it’s not easy to get here. It’s worth the effort in July and August, though, because boats running out of the small port located inside the mouth of the Quillayute River get the first chance at fish headed back to the Quillayute system (the Sol Duc, Calawah and Bogachiel). Good salmon water lies right out of the mouth of the harbor at James Island and due north at Cake Rock and Sea Lion Rock. La Push also provides the easiest access to productive offshore banks like Umatilla Reef or the Rock Pile (roughly 7½ miles out of the mouth of the river). The true dark horse fishery here, though, is the La Push “fall Chinook” bubble season that runs for two weeks in September: Within minutes of leaving port, you’re fishing water that’s capable of producing 50-pound Chinook headed back to the Quillayute.
810 Auburn Way N. Auburn, WA 98002
Named for Capt. Robert Gray, the fur trader who discovered it in 1792, Grays Harbor is the Washington equivalent of Tillamook Bay in that it sees fish bound for several of the state’s most productive Chinook and coho rivers (the Humptulips, Satsop, Wynoochee, Chehalis and Johns). There’s a good chance of hooking a 40-pluspound Chinook here, because the genetics of those systems are loaded with big fish. It’s a straightforward, shallow-water fishery: purple- or black-label herring on 5/0 or 6/0 hooks behind a 3- to 6-ounce cannonball sinker, trolled in 10 to 20 feet of water in the big, long trough that runs off the mouth of the Johns River.
One of many West Coast ports that claim the nickname “Salmon Capitol of the World,” that tag frankly fits better for Westport than anywhere else: It’s safe to
Big salmon in shallow water. How big? Forty-plus-pound big. Many of the most notorious salmon sharpies in western Washington have caught their biggest Chinook in this estuary of the Willapa River. How shallow? Less than 15 feet in most places, which makes it even more Wild Wild West when you hook a hawg. This is straightforward tidewater fishing: big (black- or purple-label) herring just off the bottom, trolled behind a Fish Flash near the mouth of the North River, between markers No. 7 and No. 22.
This port tucked just inside the mouth of the Columbia River in Baker Bay is the final sentry for Chinook and coho returning to the Columbia and its tributaries, and has one of the oldest commercial-charter fleets on the West Coast (which spares you from the treacherous Columbia River bar crossing). Most of the fishing is offshore in deep water, for Chinook and coho traveling off the continental shelf en route to the Columbia, but once good numbers of fish begin to filter into the lower river, closer-in locations (Buoy 4, the CR Buoy, etc.) and waters west and southwest of the river mouth tend to become more productive. You’ll find more details about the Buoy 10 fishery on the flip side of this fold-out.
This port in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is super popular for Puget Sound-area anglers because it offers excellent fishing and a wildand-scenic feel without having to travel several hours further to the ocean. Sekiu typically has a 45-day Chinook season that gets cranking in early July (it can close early if wild-fish interception is high) and is one of the best spots on the West Coast for coho as fish bound for fisheries like the Snohomish and Skagit Rivers and Hood Canal cruise through the strait in late summer. Easy-to-find community spots abound: the Bell Buoy to Pillar Point east of Clallam Bay; the Coal Mine to Slip Point west of Clallam Bay; the kelp beds in front of the Caves; and the offshore rips in 200 to 300 feet of water straight north of port.
Millions of fish filter into Puget Sound every year, and every single one of them has to swim by the “gate”: Port Townsend and Midchannel Bank. Summer salmon season usually starts in mid-July and runs through August, with coho following in late summer, and Midchannel can be preposterously productive on good tidal movement as fish pursue pods of bait that get pushed around the bank’s long underwater ledge which runs northwest/southeast between Point Wilson and Marrowstone Point. Troll or mooch the outer edges of the bank, focusing on 120 to 140 feet of water.
As it transitions from Midchannel Bank to Puget Sound proper, the waters of Admiralty Inlet pass by three excellent spots, one on the north (Whidbey Island) side, two on the mainland side southeast of Foulweather Bluff: Double Bluff lies to the north, Pilot Point and Point No Point to the south. All three can be productive in the summer for trollers and moochers, and they all three serve up an occasional good jig bite. Point No Point is also one of the better spots in the Sound to access Chinook and coho from the beach. These spots are all heavily influenced by tides: fish No Point on the outgoing tide, Pilot Point and Double Bluff on the incoming tide.
One of the landmark fisheries of Puget Sound, Possession Bar sits off the southern tip of Whidbey Island, at a prime transition point for fish migrating into inner Puget Sound. Regardless of whether they pass Possession and head north toward Port Susan or instead turn south toward South Sound waters, millions of salmon annually stop over to feed in the rocky underwater buffet that Possession Bar forms, making it one of the better bets in Puget Sound for July-September Chinook and coho. You can catch summer fish trolling plugs, spoons, bait or squid, or mooching herring here, but it’s not an easy fishery: wicked currents and depth variations in the rocky reef system require close attention to tides and trolling depths.
HUMPY HOLLOW/ POSSESSION SOUND
This is the nickname for a particularly productive stretch of water between Mukilteo and “the Shipwreck” (a well-known landmark directly across the Sound from Possession Point), but for the purposes of this mapazine, we’ll actually expand a little beyond the Hollow and include the waters between Everett and Edmonds. Located as it is between two of the North Sound’s most popular ports, this area sees plenty of traffic when fishing is good, and it almost never fails to produce for trollers working the rips in the deep shipping channel between Whidbey Island and the mainland with herring, flashers and hoochies, Coyote and Sonic Edge spoons and Ace Hi Flies.
Running northwest/southeast west of Everett, this 13-milelong passage separates Whidbey and Camano Islands, and serves as a “spillover” for Chinook and coho headed back to the Skagit and Snohomish systems. The biggest factor here: abundant bait throughout the lower passage between the town of Langley to Greenbank, a stretch of water that includes landmark fishing areas like Baby Island
Smokey Pt Blvd
If you’re fishing these banks in the middle of the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, you’re truly in the middle of nowhere – Coyote is roughly 15 miles out of Ediz Hook, Hein and East only slightly closer – and you’re more than likely all by yourself: five boats here is a crowd. All three of these banks are natural fish magnets because they provide feeding stopovers on sandlance and candlefish, and they’re most productive on ebb tides, working from the east sides and following the tide west.
r tD y P Inn zz Bu
One of the westernmost salmon ports in the continental U.S. is also one of the most productive: Positioned the furthest north of Washington’s famed salmon ports and at the western end of the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Neah Bay provides access from June through September to summer salmon headed back to Puget Sound, and to fish continuing south toward Grays Harbor, Westport and the Columbia River. Pick your poison: Either run offshore to the continental shelf or Umatilla Reef (roughly 15 miles southwest of port) to target travelling fish headed to more southerly fisheries, or fish close to port at the Garbage Dump or Waddah Island for Sound-bound Chinook and coho.
COYOTE/HEIN/ EAST BANKS
say that more salmon are caught out of Westport on an average year than most other ports see in five years combined. This is an offshore fishery where you’re intercepting Chinook and coho headed south to the Columbia River, so the basic drill is to run 15 to 25 miles slightly north early in the season and move south as the season progresses, fishing offshore rips and balls of bait. Mooching is king here – herring and a 2- to 6-ounce crescent sinker – but trolling cut-plug herring, hoochies, spoons or plugs is exceptionally productive as well.
17306 SMOKEY PT. DR. #18 ARLINGTON, WA 98223 “EXIT 206 & I-5”
172nd St NE
and Holmes Harbor. This was formerly one of the most productive herring nurseries in Puget Sound, so plugs are good choices here almost anytime: 4- or 4¾-inch blue and green spatterback Silver Horde, 4- and 5-inch green/blue/pearl Tomics. Rigor mortis, army truck and live image blue/green Coyote spoons are also favorites here.
Look for it on a chart and it’ll show up as “Gedney Island,” but whatever you call it, this small island located due west of the Port of Everett in northern Possession Sound is a popular, productive spot to intercept Chinook and coho. The structure of the island, which is oriented slightly northerwesterly/southeasterly, extends off the southeast tip for several hundred yards, providing a nice bait-collecting reef. The northern end, between the island and the southern tip of Camano Island, is referred to as “the Racetrack”; you’ll find a ledge that runs north/south between Hat/Gedney and Camano, which is productive on both tides for Chinook.
This terminal fishery is the direct result of releases from the Tulalip tribe’s hatchery facility located in Tulalip Bay, and it can be very good … or very bad. Schizophrenic, you could say. The season starts in July and Chinook filter into the area throughout the summer, but because they’re rapidly maturing and bent on spawning as they approach “the Bubble,” it’s sometimes difficult to get Tulalip kings to bite, no matter what part of the season. You can either troll in the deeper water outside the bay, or jig/mooch in shallower water near the mouth of the bay (this is best on an incoming tide).
The summer Chinook fishery on this tributary of the Snohomish River is a fairly recent development, but it’s a productive option when summertime water conditions allow. It’s typically a June 1 opener and the water can get razor-thin on dry years, but the fishery lasts well into July on years with good snowpack. The Sky’s kings are egg biters, but they’ll also take a Kwikfish or FlatFish.
This long, narrow fjord stretches nearly 50 miles from its mouth at Foulweather Bluff to the Great Bend, and another 15 miles after that before reaching its end in Lynch Cove. There are Chinook and coho opportunities located the length of it, starting on the north end – the south and west sides of the Toandos Peninsula and Dabob Bay – and extending south past Lilliwaup and Hoodsport.
This fishery on the west side of Puget Sound across from Shilshole Bay actually extends from just south of Apple Tree Cove past President Point and around the southern side of Point Jefferson. The northern end (President Point) is best on an incoming tide, and the troll continues gradually south to Point Jefferson when the tide turns around and starts to run out.
One of the most “Seattle” of salmon images is a photo of a big Chinook, with the grain elevators or the downtown Seattle skyline in the background. That only place to accomplish that is in Elliott Bay, which is one of the most unique salmon fisheries on the West Coast. Chinook bound for the Duwamish River system move into the bay in July, and, depending on the season structure of any given year, you can catch them through early August. Resident and migratory coho are also present in late summer. This is a terminal-area fishery, so the Chinook can be pretty surly, but basic techniques (mooching, trolling, jigging) are all effective at different times and locations. The troll between Salty’s restaurant and Todd Shipyard is one of the most popular, and since the term “mooching” was born here, mooching a cut-plug herring is always a great idea.
This fishery should probably have an asterisk next to it, since the lake’s sockeye returns have been unpredictable and there’s never a guaranteed annual season. However, when sockeye returns are strong enough for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to allow a sport season, Lake Washington becomes the busiest salmon fishery in the world. Everything from Jet Skis to pleasure yachts will fish here, and a majority will be successful with the most basic setup imaginable: bare hooks trolled dead slow about 9 to 12 inches behind a dodger. Season can run as short as a week, or sometimes as long as a couple of months.
Chinook bound for the Puyallup River system arrive in Commencement Bay in mid-July, and the best fishing runs from early August through September, when migratory coho join the mix. Fish travelling down the East Passage will often tend to follow the shoreline around Dash Point and Browns Point before taking a diagonal path across the bay to the mouth of the Puyallup, meaning it’s a good idea to start at Browns Point on the incoming tide and move out along the reefs in the bay as the tide progresses.
The South Sound’s version of Possession Bar, this big finger of land juts out into the Sound due west of Tacoma, and serves as a sentinel for every fish that funnels into the Tacoma Narrows on the way to the Nisqually and other rivers in the South Sound system. Because of its physical arrangement, Point Defiance proper – and to be more precise, the Clay Banks – serves as a gigantic bait eddy when the tide is running out, drawing bait and feeding salmon into a productive mooching and trolling area from the lighthouse to Owen Beach. The same thing happens on an incoming tide straight across from Defiance at Point Dalco, where both moochers and trollers can score between the ferry dock and the point. Standard rigging here is a herring behind an 11-inch flasher, a squid/flasher combo or a 4- or 5-inch spoon.
It’s known more as a “blackmouth,” or immature king, spot than a summer-Chinook spot, but the entrance to inner Quartermaster Harbor also sees a good opportunity for coho in August and early September. Fish shallow here (30 feet or less) with plugs, Silver Horde Sonic Edge spoons, squid or cut-plug herring.
Located slightly less than 10 miles north of Tillamook Bay, Nehalem Bay and its fall Chinook fishery are almost always tucked away in the shadow of Tillamook. Granted, Tillamook is a larger estuary with more Chinook-bearing rivers to feed it, but Nehalem is a world-class tidewater fishery in its own right. Chinook start to arrive in early July with a brief summer run (think Fourth of July to the end of the month), and then the bulk of the fall fish start to show up in late August. Nehalem has good genetics too: 30- to 50-pounders are common here, and they’re biters that’ll take a whack at a big gob of cured eggs fished under a float, a cut-plug herring or a Toman Thumper spinner.
Fed by the Big Nestucca and Little Nestucca Rivers, Nestucca Bay sees the start of its summer Chinook season in the lower bay in late July as fish begin to show up at Cannery Hill – at the mouth of the Little Nestucca – and the Little Nestucca Channel. The best fishing during the August peak is in the upper bay near the airport in Pacific City, and midbay near Fishers Landing.
The Siletz River is one of the Beaver State’s hallowed steelhead streams, but the fall Chinook fishery in its sprawling, 17-mile-long estuary isn’t nearly as pressured. Fall kings begin to arrive in the lower bay along the Salishan Spit in midAugust, and the fishery continues well into September deeper in the bay, around Taft and the Kernville Bridge. Kwikfish, Cascade Spinners, purple- and black-label herring with 2- to 4-ounce cannonball sinkers are effective here.
The offshore waters out of Depoe Bay have historically been productive for mixedstock Chinook (mostly Siletz and Yaquina systems) passing through waters 6 to 11 miles offshore. Most of those fish will be by the healthy sport-charter fleet that runs angler-trips in the tens of thousands in the summer, but the tiny bay has a two-lane launch.
Pointing due south on the bottom end of the Narrows, Point Fosdick is a natural tide break for water flushing into and out of the Narrows. Consequently, it collects bait at various stages of the tide, which attracts migrating Chinook and coho headed for the Nisqually, Minter Creek, etc. This area fishes well on both tides for anglers fishing cut-plug herring, spoons, Tomic plugs or 3½-inch Captain Downriggin’ South Sound Special or UV Herring hoochies.
This is the first piece of land that migrating Chinook and coho encounter after coming through the Narrows and passing Point Fosdick, and lying as it does due south of Fosdick – right in a prime migration path – it’s a likely spot to target the same stocks of Nisqually, Chambers Creek and Minter Creek fish you find at Fosdick. The two primary landmarks here are Fox Point and Point Gibson, which fish best on the outgoing and incoming tides, respectively, both in 100 to 130 feet of water.
The Nisqually has long been one of the most productive Chinook rivers in the state, and the resulting saltwater fishery off its mouth on the extreme southern end of Puget Sound is one of the best options in the region in August. The fishery is scattered from the south end of Anderson Island (Lyle Point) to Ketron Island to the “Green Can” located at mouth of the river proper. Troll or mooch herring around the eddies that form near Lyle Point in early August, but move closer to the river mouth as the month progresses and the bulk of the arriving kings move into the shallower water of the Nisqually Delta before heading upriver. This is easily the best jig fishery for Chinook in the state: green/yellow, green/pearl and white Point Wilson Darts or similar jigs in 70 to 85 feet of water on a slack hit tide.
This small North Coast town rests inside the lower Columbia River on the northern side of Youngs Bay, perfectly positioned to target Chinook and coho returning to the big river, and also fish continuing south toward the Necanicum River, Tillamook Bay, Nehalem Bay, etc. Like its across-river sister Ilwaco, there’s a tough bar crossing to deal with, but once outside the mouth of the Columbia, Astoria-based boats have a quick run to the CR Buoy for coho and Chinook headed into the lower Columbia.
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Two schools of thought on Yaquina Bay and Newport: 1). It’s one of the busiest, most productive charter ports on the Oregon Coast and sees a ton of private-boat offshore angling; 2). The bay proper and the lower Yaquina River are sneaky-good bets for Chinook in September and October as fall rains suck kings into the bay and up into the bay’s extensive tidewater. Most of the tidewater/bay action occurs from Sawyers upstream to Toledo, trolling spinners plugs and shrimp/herring, or fishing big gobs if eggs under a float. Long before that, though, a lightly pressured summer coho season gets cranking in June (when the season is open) at the Rock Pile and in the offshore rips scattered from South Beach to Yaquina Head, and the summer offshore fishery builds from the June opener through August, fishing anywhere from 3 to 15 miles offshore.
Join Team Hook Up and Catch Fall Kings and Coho Along the Oregon Coastal Bays and Rivers
Float fishing big clusters of eggs or shrimp has come to the Oregon Coast tidewater fisheries big time in recent years, and Alsea Bay is no different. The Alsea’s fall Chinook fishery gets cranking in August in the bay/tidewater section, continuing through October before moving upriver between the tiny town of Tidewater and Alsea. This is classic tidewater fishing: In addition to floats/bait, you’ll do well on spinners, FlatFish and herring from McKinley’s up to Taylor’s Landing. Moving upriver in October and November, drift boaters can backbounce bait, back plugs or fish floats/bait from Mill Creek Park down to Tidewater.
FLORENCE/LOWER SIUSLAW RIVER
The ocean Chinook fishery out of this port on the Siuslaw River gets going in July, transitioning into a tidewater fishery in August and September and up into the river proper in October. The tidewater bite on eggs/ shrimp and floats, Kwikfish or FlatFish and trolled herring occurs mostly between Cushman RV Park and Mapleton Landing.
WINCHESTER BAY/ UMPQUA RIVER
The late-summer offshore fishery out of Winchester Bay is powered by late-spring, summer and fall Chinook headed back to one of the more productive salmon fisheries in the West: the Umpqua River. This port lags only slightly behind Garibaldi in the number of chartered salmon trips run per year (just over 14,000), and that’s largely because “springers” run clear through early August here and are overlapped by fall kings and coho through October and into early November. Big season and big opportunity.
Start paying attention to Coos Bay in July: When it’s open, coho season usually runs July through early August, and the summer Chinook fishery piles on in late July/August from the Coos River bar, extending as far out as 20 miles. Almost every boat out there will be running cutplug herring, Apexes or the newest hot-
ness, Brad’s Super Baits. The fall fishery transitions into roughly 21 miles of the upper bay and lower river in September, and is at its best in October: Troll spinners or herring behind downsized Fish Flashes if you’re fishing low in the system, and switch to plugs or floats/eggs as you move higher.
Late-summer saltwater anglers typically run 5 to 10 miles offshore of Coquille Point and Face Rock to intercept fish bound for the Coquille River, and the summer Chinook fishery here gets an occasional boost in August whenever there’s a coho season. Tidewater on this estuary is expansive – it runs from the mouth nearly 20 miles upriver to the town of Coquille, and local intel says that roughly 75 percent of the fish caught in this lower section of the river bite on cut-plug herring trolled behind a green Fish Flash. You’ll see a mish-mash of other techniques, though, including a takeoff of the Rogue Bait setup (anchovy and blade), Wiggle Warts and Kwikfish, and the occasional spinner (especially for coho).
ROGUE BAY, RIVER
If it’s good enough for Zane Grey, it’s good enough for us. The lower Rogue and Rogue Bay were among the famed author’s list of favorite fisheries, and they’re hallowed waters for Beaver State Chinook anglers as well. Why? For one, because this 155-mile river sees a massive return of kings on a typical year; throw in the fact that the genetics here are some of the best on the West Coast and you have a prime late summer/early fall destination trophy fishery. The summer fishery gets cranking in the bay in August and continues through September, when coho also arrive, and the basic presentation for most boats trolling is a Rogue Bait Rig or similar blade/bead rig with an anchovy.
The southernmost of Oregon’s salmon ports might just be the best big-fish fishery in the state in the fall – if it’s not the best place to catch a 50-pound Chinook, it’s damn close. The “Chetco Bubble” fishery sees the arrival of big Smith- and Chetcobound kings in October, but before that, Chinook bound for the Sacramento and Klamath rivers pass through the offshore waters out of Brookings from July through August; the season opens in June, but July brings fish in closer to the buoys just outside of the Port of Brookings-Harbor, where they readily bite on herring trolled shallow behind Fish Flashes. Anchovies (either trolled or mooched) are another longtime standard here.
COLUMBIA RIVER SUMMER STEELHEAD Summer salmon out of Westport and Astoria are multi-decade traditions, but maybe the hottest summer fishery in the Pacific Northwest is one of the newest: summer steelhead on the Columbia River. Burgeoning recent returns of nearly a halfmillion summer-runs a year over Bonneville Dam have translated into lights-out steelheading throughout the system, from the lower mainstem to tributaries like the Cowlitz, Lewis, Washougal, etc., and it’s a fishery that boatless anglers can easily access from dozens of productive beaches on both the Washington and Oregon sides. Techniques run the gamut, from anchoring and running small bait divers with shrimp, pulling Hot Shots, FatFish or Wiggle Warts, drift-fishing eggs or shrimp or plunking bait from the beach. SEE INSIDE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS, BUOY 10 AND TILLAMOOK BAY. PLUS: 5 TOP RIGS FOR CATCHING SALMON >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> PUBLISHED BY
Your LOCAL Hunting & Fishing Resource
PUBLISHER James R. Baker ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Dick Openshaw EDITOR/WRITER Andy Walgamott/Joel Shangle SALES MANAGER Brian Lull OPERATIONS MANAGER Paul Yarnold NATIONAL ACCOUNTS MANAGER Mike Nelson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Kurt Hanson, Jim Klark, Mike Smith DESIGNERS Chris Brittain, Dawn Carlson PRODUCTION MANAGER John Rusnak OFFICE MANAGER/ACCOUNTING Audra Higgins ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Katie Sauro INFORMATION SERVICES MANAGER Lois Sanborn CIRCULATION MANAGER Heidi Belew ADVERTISING INQUIRIES firstname.lastname@example.org CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to email@example.com, or snail mail them to the address below. ON THE COVER First-time salmon angler Gerry Hembry of Reno, Nev., shows off a nice king he caught out of Westport, Wash., in August 2010 trolling a spoon. (RANDY ANTONIO) Get daily updates at nwsportsmanmag.com and nwsportsmanmag.wordpress.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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SAN JUAN ISLANDS
23 22 21 24 25
Rosario Stra it
Anacortes Cap Sante Marina Skyline Marina
scale in miles
Cle Elum Lake
Na ch es
Map information courtesy National Geographic Maps
It’s named after a navigational buoy at the mouth of the Columbia River, but the Buoy 10 fishery represents a sprawling late summer/early fall Chinook and coho opportunity that stretches from the fringes of the Pacific (the CR Buoy) well up into the lower Columbia. Come August, when the fish are in, “Buoy 10” actually means “buckle your chinstrap,” because it’s maybe the most heavily fished area in the Pacific Northwest. It’s worth the traffic jam, because Chinook and coho fresh into the lower river from the salt will readily bite cut-plug herring and a Fish Flash fished behind a Comet Tail Deep 6 or Jet Diver at the following locations: Buoy 10: You’ll always find a heavy concentration of boats just upstream of the buoy (which also marks the western fishing boundary) as anglers take their first cracks at fresh fish moving in with the tide. Best fishing is from the buoy upriver to Sand Island, starting due east of the buoy and continuing upriver on the Washington side of the channel to Sand Island. Sand Island to Chinook: The fishery continues upriver past Buoy 10 proper following the Washington shoreline from Sand Island to Chinook. The water here funs from 20 to 50 feet deep. Church Hole: Between Chinook and the Astoria-Megler Bridge, this deep slot (40 to 60 feet) runs from a spot just offshore of an old church on the Washington side upriver past the bridge.
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Hot Chemult Spot
State Highway 31
National Forests, Parks
Sprague R iver Upper Kalamath Lake
State Border Summer Paisley
T O P R I G S
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PRES ENTS Bend
Croo ked R iver
Fern Ridge Lake
Umpqu a River
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Goose Lakeview Lake
BUZZ RAMSEY’S FAVORITE BUOY 10 RIG
RICK HOWARD’S CUT-PLUG SARDINE RIG
MONTY MONCREIF’S MOJOED SUPER BAIT
DIVING PLUGS & BAIT WRAPS
TROLLING SPOONS OR HOOCHIES
Famed Northwest salmon angler Buzz Ramsey uses Tracer Braid for his mainline and Big Game for his two leaders. He cuts the holographic tape onto the bottom of the diver and cuts it into strips. He runs a cut-plug herring and a 4-inch Berkley worm on the top mooching hook. “If I put out two rods, one with a herring/pink worm combination and another with just a herring, the coho will bite the rig with the pink worm first every time,” says Ramsey. “And there’s some truth to be said that the more gear you got on your line, the more fish you’ll catch. Those fish come over there to investigate.” –Larry Ellis
To rig up guide Rick Howard’s (541-347-3280; howard5.net/rhguide) cut-plug sardine rig for October estuary salmon, start by tying braided mainline to the spreader bar. Use the shorter spreader bar that has a six-bead bead chain on the end. The dropper line, including the wire spreader, should be no more than 12 inches long. Snap a Big Al’s Fish Flash directly to the bead chain on the spreader. Using 18 inches of 40-pound mono, tie a large Duo Lock snap on one end and a six-bead bead chain on the other end. The snap attaches to the end of the flasher. Using 30 inches of 40-pound monofilament, tie a sliding mooching leader setup using a perfection loop on the leader’s end. A red 3/0 Gamakatsu hook is used for the upper sliding hook. On the opposite end of the 30-inch leader attach a large Duo Lock snap which snaps onto the bead chain on the end of the first leader. Big Al’s Insert a bait threader into the side of the sardine, about 1 inch ahead of the tail. Fish Flash Push the threader Braided mainline through the middle of the sardine and out of the center where you 6-bead beadSpreader bar chain swivels made the cut for the Duo-Lock 18-inch length snap Duo-Lock cut plug. of 40-pound snap monofilament Attach a size 1 or Dropper line 2 Gamakatsu treble hook* on the loop Cut-plug Size 1 or 2 30-inch, sardine Gamakatsu and let it dangle. In40-pound leader treble* sert the 3/0 hook into the sardine as shown. Red 3/0 Gamakatsu hook –Larry Ellis
Monty Moncrief of Brookings, Ore., took a great lure and put his own twist on it. On the Brad’s Super Bait Cut Plug, he fillets an anchovy, leaves the skin and the tail fin on, and then inserts it in the cavity, leaving the tail fin exposed. To anglers, the lure looks like the real deal, and according to Moncrief’s track record, the fish think so too. It’s good in the rivers and now anglers are taking it out onto the ocean and the estuaries for fall Chinook and finding success. –Larry Ellis
Three plugs come to mind under this heading: The Mag Lip, K-13X and Mag Wart. Mag Lips, from Yakima Bait, were previously known as the M2SP FlatFish. They dive to 20 feet without a diver and can be fished as shallow as 4 feet. K13X and K14X Kwikfish work well on anchor. Storm Mag Warts have been a favorite for years; they and the Kwiks dive to 14 feet. Terminal rigs can’t get any simpler – 25-pound monofilament mainline straight to the Duo-Lock snap that comes with the plug. If you like braid, run 65-pound test to a barrel swivel then 5 feet of 25pound leader to the snap. To fish water deeper than what the plug can dive, add a diver. From the plug’s Duo-Lock snap attach 5 feet of 25-pound leader to a bead-chain swivel. Above the bead chain, use an 8mm bead to protect the knot and a plastic weight slider. Your main line should either be 25-pound mono or 65-pound braid. From your slider attach a Jumbo (dives to 40 feet) or a 20/20 (dives to 20 feet) Jet Diver. Mag Lips and Kwikfish are designed for bait wraps. Start by filleting a sardine, herring or anchovy and cut it into 2-inch pieces. Slice the fillet three-quarters of the way up the middle. Center the fillet on the belly hook eye (skin side towards the plug) and wrap Stretchy Thread around the fillet and plug until the bait’s secure. –Andy Schneider
Sometimes herring doesn't do the job on Chinook and coho, and anglers have to dig into their tackle box a little bit deeper to find something different to trigger migrating salmon into biting as they close upon their estuaries. Enter spoons and squids. Not to say they won't work on the briny blue, but these baitimitating lures come into their own in more protected waters where anglers tag them behind flashers. There are numerous great spoons out there, but the Pilchard Wonder Spoon is the same one the commercial trollers use, according to Gibbs Delta, as it imitates a sardine, a favorite snack for Chinook. The darting action of the squid (bottom setup) behind the Delta no-drag flasher resembles the true motion of panicked bait, the company says.
Kone Zone flasher Duo-Lock snap
65-pound braided mainline
3-foot, 40-pound leader
Duo-Lock snap Six-bead beadchain
Medium-size Deep Six Diver Strips of holographic tape 3-foot, 40-pound leader 4-inch pink worm
12-inch rubber snubber
Fixed 5/O mooching hooks 4/O and 5/O Gamakatsu octopus hooks
* Note: Trebles not legal in Washington saltwaters.
Green Peter Lake
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33 If there’s one location in the Pacific Northwest that just screams “Salmon fishing!” it’s Tillamook Bay. Located an hour west of Portland on Oregon’s North Coast, this 6-mile-by-2-mile bay benefits from Chinook and coho returns to five different rivers (the Wilson, Trask, Tillamook, Kilchis and Miami) and a legion of anglers who have really figured out how to catch fish when they arrive fresh from the Pacific. Mid-July marks the second half of the spring Chinook season, and the fall Chinook/coho bite starts to cook the second week in September. The Jaws: Fishing the open ocean just outside the jaws of the bay can be a good bet if water conditions inside the bay are poor, and it’s a straightforward cut-plug herring troll either due north or due south of the jaws. Ghost Hole: One of the most well-known Chinook spots in the state, the Ghost Hole marks the beginning of the shallow portion of the bay, running from Hobsonville Point to a series of pilings on the east side of the bay near Bay City. FlatFish and size 6-8 spinners here. Memaloose/upper bay: The bigger the tide, the better your chances at finding fish in the upper end of the bay, and the Memaloose boat launch puts you right in the middle of the upper-bay bite. Fish spinners in the main channel here.
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As a guy who’s caught virtually every species that swims in both fresh- and saltwater in the Pacific Northwest – except that darn burbot ju-ju I can’t solve – I have to admit that saltwater salmon is probably my favorite. Baker Nay, no “probably” about it: There’s absolutely nothing that swims Lakethat give me the Shazam! of nervous energy that I get in our waters whenever a Chinook or coho blows up the downrigger and heads at Ska Mach 3 for parts unknown. git R There’s something incredibly and rewarding about the saltCasc aderaw i er fisheries Rofiv er and Oregon, and I watervsalmon off the coasts Washington think it has as much to do with the fish as it does the Pacific Ocean and StChinook her beaches. You can’t actually hear a 40-pound saltwater eh actually snarl underwater, but, I like to imagine they do. e in Our Tech Map series has blanketed the region in search of thekbest inland lakes and river fisheries, and we’re certainly blessed with some ofRive r the best of those. This little corner of North America, though, is (in my opinion) even more blessedSby the opportunity to fish the open Pacific, uia known as Puget Sound for Chinook dozens of estuaries, and the complex tt e in other parts of the country and coho. Even though these species lexist Rive and even further up the coast of the continent into r B.C. and Alaska, our home waters are among the richest, most accessible in the world. This Tech Map is aimed at providing a baseline of information for anglers looking for the best bites off our coasts. It’s a starting point for anglers looking for the hottest Chinook and coho fisheries in July, August, September and beyond. I hope it helps you find the same Shazam! –Joel Shangle
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The islands of the San Juan Archipelago – the San Juan Islands in Marine Area 7 north of Seattle – hold some of the most intriguing geography in Puget Sound (both above and below the water), and, consequently, some of the most productive salmon water on the West Coast. Both the Chinook and coho fisheries are boosted by mixed stocks headed back to dozens of area rivers throughout the summer and fall, so there are fish to be caught here right from the traditional July 1 summer Chinook opener. The main challenge is deciding on the best place to fish. Because of their geography and the dynamic play of currents through the channels and around the islands, you can almost think of the San Juans as a gigantic, ever-changing river system. As one spot goes dead on a certain tide, others come alive: Point Lawrence: At the easternmost tip of Orcas Island, Lawrence fishes best on the second half of a big ebb tide, when bait collects along the shoreline between the point and Sea Acre. Eagle Bluff: On the west side of Cypress Island, Eagle Bluff fishes best on a flood tide in 80 to 100 feet of water. West side San Juan Island: The lower third of the west side of San Juan Island is some of the best summer salmon territory in the islands, specifically Lime Kiln and Pile Point. Lime Kiln is a shallow fishery (30 to 80 feet), Pile Point deeper (to 135 feet). Both are good on either tide.
Brad’s Super Bait Cut Plug
Filleted anchovy tail
Gibbs Fish Witch Flasher
No. 7 Pilchard Wonder Spoon
48-inch, 40-pound-test leader
5-foot leader (shortened for photographic purposes) of 25-pound mono
Delta 4.5-inch rigged squid
Gamakatsu size 2 round-bend treble hooks
Optional Gamakatsu 4/O siwash hook
Mag Lip Delta Inline Flasher