The Fishing Corner: Cross your fingers for good fortune at fall salmon season

Western Washington fishing report from Larry Dublanko

Anglers are crossing their fingers and hoping for two things to pan out in regards to the fall inland salmon season. These are critical for us to have a valid fishing season unlike that of last year.

First, let’s hope there are no further changes or restrictions with the upcoming regulations. This would mean that if things stay as they are, there will be some salmon fishing in most of our Grays Harbor rivers.

Second, it would be essential for us to have a decent run of salmon. It would also be helpful to have cooperation from the weather itself. It wouldn’t matter if the fish were available, and yet the rains, or lack of them, prevented anglers from accessing them.

Although we have already had a cooler August, we can now expect to see cool “fall air” move in for the month of September. This will help to cool river water during the evening and preserve the habitat for both salmon and steelhead. Additional rain in proper amounts would help as well.

As is always the case, the earliest inland salmon fishery is at Willapa Bay. The current availability to retain four adult salmon makes this fishery very appealing. In addition, the two pole endorsement option adds to the popularity of this Marine Area 2-1 fishery. Of course, this fishery has been well underway for quite some time. The September up surge will only make it even more attractive for anglers.

The Grays Harbor fishery, known as Marine Area 2-2, won’t get started until the first of October. The retention of one adult and the release of all wild Chinooks will seem very limiting to most fishers. Currently, anglers are able to access what is known as the North Bay segment of Grays Harbor. Here anglers are permitted to retain two adult salmon, however all wild coho must be released.

These three fisheries — Willapa Bay and the two Grays Harbor segments — serve the sports fisher until the coastal rivers open completely to salmon fishing.

Anglers are pin pointing steelhead locations in our region. Once these fish are located, it becomes a matter of persistence before there is a connection between angler and fish.

As the summer months close many anglers are needing to make the seasonal adjustments into the many fisheries before us. Minimal attention is given to steelhead and sea-run cutthroat trout. Everything changes as we move into the pursuit of salmon. This includes fishing vessels, gear and lures. This adjustment tends to move rather slowly, but things can ramp up real quickly once the word is out that fish are being caught in sizable numbers.

So, we are at that stage where anglers are still engaged with fishing blue water, focusing on steelhead here and there and more earnestly looking over Marine areas 2-1 and 2-2.

The serious pursuits of fish in late summer can be impacted greatly by time and schedules. People are getting busy entering into the fall activities. However, the dedicated will find a way to wet a line.