Westport Report: Better to be dressed than found in the round

As you read this, we’re 4 weeks into the 2012 salmon season at Westport. So how’s it going so far? Well, through last Sunday (July 15) 6,675 anglers have captured 4,481 Chinook and 758 coho here in Westport.

Not bad but, well, not great.

Based on anecdotal information and some seat-of-the-pants guesswork, we think the best is yet to come. Mid-July through mid-August is usually the best time for Chinook. Coho predominate the fishing from mid-August through September. My prediction is for great fishing in August this year. There have been some really good days in the past couple of weeks and a few pretty poor ones. That’s why we call it “fishing,” not “catching.”

We have finally broken the 30 pound barrier in our Chinook derby. That’s dressed weight — 31 pounds, 2 ounces to be exact. That critter was landed on July 15 by Arnold Miller of Auburn. I would expect that sometime in August, we’ll catch some 40 pounders.

Dressed, not round

Many folks ask us why we weigh our derby salmon dressed rather than in the round. Our answer entails multiple reasons.

First, it eliminates the hassle of leaving all potential derby contenders “undressed” for weigh-in and then carting them back down to the vessel for cleaning. (On a side-note – just who came up with the term “dressed” when referring to a fish that was cleaned? Shouldn’t it be “undressed”? Oh well, too late now.)

Second, it’s better to clean a salmon sooner rather than later, so they get cleaned out on the ocean.

Third, it eliminates any temptation someone might have to add to the fish’s weight by inserting a few fishing leads down the gullet. (Yes, that’s happened in the past and it’s embarrassing for everyone involved when discovered.)

Finally, when you weigh a fish dressed, you can add whatever you want to that weight for the round weight when bragging about your catch to your friends. Actually, a salmon’s innards average about one-eighth of its weight. The 31-2, our derby leader, would have gone a little over 35 before it was cleaned.

Tuna, derby update

So what’s going on with tuna? There have been a few charters that have gone out 50-60 miles and come home with fish so it won’t be long before that fishery gets cranked up. Peak time is early August through late September.

There are about 20 vessels in the Westport charter fleet taking trips that average 1 1/2-2 days in length. You might want to go to our website and check the links to our charter services for more specific information.

We still have an 8-14 coho leading our coho derby. That’ll change soon. Our season-leading lingcod remains at 35-5 and our halibut at 117 pounds.

We should have some more specific tuna information in a couple of weeks, along with what will hopefully be a gangbuster salmon report.

Mark Cedergreen is the CEO of the Westport Charterboat Association. For more information, visit www.charterwestport.com.