Our 4th of July week camping trip has come and gone. Although the trip was designed around the Marine Area 6 salmon opener we only fished 3 for salmon 3 days and went crabbing 3 times. I’m breaking this report down into two reports, a salmon and a crab report for our trip.
The western half of Marine Area 6 opened for chinook retention on July 3rd. Our camping trip was planned so we could fish Marine Area 6 or 7. Based out of a campground in Sequim; if we fished the western half of MA 6 we were looking at a 25-36 mile run. Depending on where in MA 7 my plan would require a 20-35 mile run across the straights.
Our first shot at salmon was the July 3rd opener. With the weather being a bit questionable, we had decided to make the short drive to Port Angeles to launch. My plan was to fish the Bachelor Rocks to Tongue Point area. With a 2:00 am get up and a 2:30 launch at PA we arrived at Bachelor Rocks just as it was getting light and went gear down shortly thereafter. From that point until we packed up to make the run back to PA it was salmon fueled pandemonium. Between released wild fish, shakers and just fish we decided to release we had a fish on, or even doubles the entire time we were out. We released a few large wild fish, gobs of 2-10 # coho and a few nice hatchery fish. We were on the first fishing day of a potential 7-day fishing trip so we had to consider storage and loading up our possession limit early.
Running two downriggers we ran flasher/spoon combos. Just for fun we cycled through a number of gear combination and all saw action but two setups stood out. A Purple Haze flasher with a double-sided Cookies-n-Cream Coho Killer spoon was money. A UV Chilly Pepper flasher/# 2 Kingfisher UV Glow Grape Cream spoon combo was a close second. The spoons were rigged on 42” of 30# Seaguar fluorocarbon and my setback from the DR ball is about 20-22’. The fish seemed to be suspended and we caught all of our fish actively chasing meter marks in 70-120’ of water. Our first day on the water was nothing short of spectacular.
Our next salmon day was an unplanned trip offshore. We were setting crab pots off Dungeness Spit and instead or running back in to let them soak, in spite of the wind we decided to hit Hein Bank. After a lumpy run to Hein Bank we went gear down and about 20 minutes after we put the gear down one of the riggers pops and we were fish on. The fish was hot and bent on making an escape but in the end we slid the net under a beautiful hatchery chinook. The wind was up so we called it and made the long slog back to collect our crab pots. A Army Truck flasher and a 3.5 Cookies-n-Cream did the job. As before we targeted meter marks trolling in 70-120’ of water.
For the final day of salmon fishing I was solo. After 2 days of ocean swell, Karen decided to stay on shore with the grand kids. I dropped the crab pots in Sequim Bay at 4:30 and headed back to Hein Bank. The seas were calm and I was not the only boat there. There were 20-30 other boats fishing various areas of the bank. In search of a slab I decided to focus on the shallower trolls (50-90’). For the most part I chased meter marks with a UV Chilly Pepper flasher and candlefish fly tipped with a salted herring strip. I also ran various flasher/spoon combinations. But the fly had an edge. My fish was up on the surface doing a scenic tour of the bank when another boat trolled across the line ending what was otherwise a great play-date. My next fish was a slab but had an extra fin. From that point on the bite was more or less over and I just scratched out shakers. I love fishing the offshore banks on flat water. There is always so much life; there are whales, huge bait balls and a menagerie of sea birds.
Our 8 days reduced to 3 of salmon fishing the strait were way fun. We caught a ton of fish and had a blast. I can’t wait to get back out there and I think that I need to start going to CA meetings, Chinook-a-holics Anonymous…