A wet week has made up for a dry summer in salmon fishing


After a great late August in the salmon fishery, effort dropped substantially by mid-September. Even after going to a non-selective fishery on coho and enough quota to go to the end of the month, it seems like folks had other activities in mind. Then the weather hit. Boy did it ever!

We usually expect some weather around the fall equinox, but not as much as we’ve had this year. The last week certainly made up for a pretty dry summer.

We had better fishing this year compared to last year. We had a few less angler trips compared to 2012, but significantly better success, especially in the latter days of August and early September. Through Sunday, Sept. 22, 34,789 anglers caught 13,362 Chinook and 20,194 cohol this is about one fish per person. The CPUE (catch per unit effort) got better and better as the season progressed. Although the fish were hefty there were very few really big ones. Every year is different.

The last day of salmon on the ocean in 2013 is Monday.

Albacore tuna fishing was gangbusters this year. The fish showed up in early to mid July about 40 miles straight out and stayed in the general area all season long. Weather permitting, they’re still there.

Albacore can be fooled with artificial lures early in the season. But as the weeks pass, they seem to wise up and can only be caught on live bait. Fortunately, we have a lot of anchovies here in Grays Harbor and a bait dealer equipped to catch them. Commercial vessels from as far south as San Diego trek up our way every summer because of our abundant bait supply. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue fishing for albacore through mid-October.

Lingcod and rockfish trips will continue through mid-October also.

The lingcod season officially ends after Oct. 12. Lingcod are plentiful off Westport as are rockfish. This fishery has been very sustainable for a number of years now and has a growing clientele amongst the charterboat fleet. The rockfish limit is 10. Each fish yields 1-2 pounds of white meat. The Lingcod limit is 2 and they can get up into the forties.

Our derby leaders to date

Chinook salmon – 32-14 dressed (37 in the round) caught by Kevin Swanson of Missoula, Mont., on Aug. 2. Coho salmon – 14-3 dressed (over 16 in the round) caught by Bob Swanberg of Mountlake Terrace on Sept. 9. Lingcod – 41-6 caught by Larry Sturman of Spokane on March 30. (We had a 41-1 on Aug. 3). Albacore Tuna – 36-0 caught by Sawyer Solomon of Tacoma on Sept. 1. Halibut – 60 pounder caught on May 14 by John Polaski, also of Spokane. Maybe with the exception of the lingcod grand prize, these folks are all likely winners for 2013.

What to expect in 2014? Ocean survival conditions have been good for multiple years now.

Lots of stock assessments and planning will occur between November and April. Final regulations will come out in early April and hopefully the opportunities will be as good as or better than they were this year.

For more info on charter fishing trips please visit our website at www.charterwestport.com.