From Strait of Juan de Fuca to central Puget Sound, pinks are red hot

Pink salmon fishing has been a ball of fire in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the past couple of weeks and continues to be red hot.

Catches of pinks have been nearly as good in central Puget Sound and fair to good in the Tacoma area.

Chinook are being caught in Hood Canal’s Hoodsport area, but the bite has been spotty. Salmon fishing continues to be slow in South Sound.

Coastal salmon fishing has been excellent in Marine Areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores). Charters have been returning early with limits of coho and chinook. Most of the catch has been coho.

River fishing has been mixed this week – poor in some rivers, but excellent in others. Catches of pinks have been good in the Puyallup River, and the Cowlitz has been producing better-than-average catches of steelhead. Some cutthroat also are being caught. In the lower Columbia, steelheading has been excellent below Bonneville Dam.

Fishing has been slow in the Sol Duc and Quillayute rivers because the water has been low and clear.

The Buoy 10 fishery is picking up steam. Last weekend, catches ranged from one-half to one fish per rod. Walleye fishing has been good near Troutdale and in the gorge. It also has been good in the Camas-Washougal area.

Sturgeon effort continues to be light during the current catch-and-release fishery. On Saturday, just 27 boats were counted below Bonneville Dam, plus seven Washington and 12 Oregon bank anglers.

The pikeminnow sport fishery has been very good throughout the Columbia, with the Boyer Park and Greenbelt areas producing the best catches. Last week, there was one tagged pikeminnow for every 954 caught.


Samplings taken Sunday at the Olson’s Resort boat ramp in Sekiu showed 265 boat anglers caught 117 coho and 240 pinks. At Van Riper’s Resort, 121 boat anglers had 73 coho and 115 pinks.

Fishing has been very good for coho in the Neah Bay area, said Mike Jamboretz of Jambo’s Sport Fishing. Coho are averaging 12 to 15 pounds. Catches of chinook have dropped off, and pinks have moved out of the area. Seasonal catches through Aug. 9 were 2,076 chinook and 8,649 coho. A total of 4,813 pinks also were caught.

Fishing has been very good in Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), where pinks have made up the largest portion of the catch. On Sunday, fish checkers sampled 626 boat anglers at the Everett Marine Park, with 24 coho and 1,070 pinks.

Catches of pinks were good in the Tacoma area Saturday but have since dropped off. Chinook and coho catches have been spotty throughout the area, said Art Tachell of Point Defiance Boathouse and Marina.

Some chinook have been caught near the Hoodsport Hatchery, and there has been the occasional chinook caught in the Bald Point area, but the bite has been spotty from Ayock Point south, said Walt Harvey of Verle’s Sports in Shelton.

In South Sound, a few chinook are being caught near the Green Can in the Nisqually Delta, and a few have been caught near Devils Head, said Mike Zittel of Zittel’s Marina. Anglers are reporting that seals have been congregating near the mouth of the Nisqually.


PUYALLUP: Fishing has been excellent for pinks, said Todd Rock of Auburn Sports in Auburn. Some coho are being caught, as are the odd chinook, which have been difficult to land at times because of tangled lines and crowded bank areas.

NISQUALLY: Fishing has been slow below the Mounts Road bridge and handicap area. The river is low and clear.

COWLITZ: Last week, 315 summer steelhead, 17 chinook, seven jacks, 67 mini-jacks, one fall chinook and three cutthroat trout returned to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Also last week, 62 mini-jack chinook were released into Riffe Lake at the Mossyrock State Park boat launch. A lot of steelhead and a few chinook are being caught in the lower river.

Chinook and steelhead are being caught at the barrier dam, and some cutthroat are being caught at Blue Creek. There are a lot of steelhead moving up to the hatchery, but they are not biting well, said Karen Glaser of Barrier Dam Campground.

LEWIS: Fishing has been excellent at times for steelhead at the mouth. Bank and boat anglers in the North Fork also are catching some steelhead. Overall, fishing has been very good, said Elaine Byrnes of Angler’s Workshop.

OLYMPIC PENINSULA: There is no shortage of coho in the Sol Duc and Quillayute rivers, but they aren’t biting well. Low and clear water has not been conducive to decent fishing, said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods in Forks. Angler pressure has been extremely light.

KALAMA: The best fishing – not necessarily catching – is early in the morning and late in the evening, said Barbara Orzell of Pritchard’s Western Angler. The trap is in the lower river below Modrow Bridge and has been loaded with chinook and some coho.

DRANO LAKE: Including fish released, boat anglers averaged more than 1.2 steelhead per rod last week. A little more than half of the fish were kept. A few chinook also have been caught.

WHITE SALMON: Steelhead are being caught by both boat and bank anglers. Parking is limited in the area.

COLUMBIA: Last week, 890 bank anglers were sampled from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Bonneville Dam, and they had 251 steelhead and 10 chinook. In addition, 259 boat anglers were sampled with 118 steelhead and 10 chinook. Two-thirds of the steelhead caught were kept. On Saturday, nearly 300 boats and 135 Oregon bank anglers were counted. The most boats (79) were counted at the mouth of the Cowlitz.

More than 8,300 steelhead were kept from the sport fishery below Bonneville Dam during July, according to Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist for the Pacific States Marine Fishery Commission. It’s the largest one month total since at least 1975, he said.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that boat anglers in the gorge averaged two steelhead per boat last weekend, and bank anglers averaged 0.5 fish per rod. Boat anglers in the St. Helens-to-Longview area averaged 0.07 chinook and 0.44 steelhead, and boat anglers in Troutdale averaged 0.08 chinook and 0.39 steelhead caught per boat. At Buoy 10, anglers averaged 0.83 chinook, 2.04 coho and 0.02 steelhead caught per boat.

HANFORD REACH: The fall chinook fishery opened Sunday.

SKOKOMISH: There are lots of chinook in the river, accompanied by heavy angler activity, Harvey said.


Pikeminnow fishing was outstanding in the Greenbelt and Boyer Park areas last week. Greenbelt anglers caught 1,032 fish, and 1,154 pikeminnows were caught in the Boyer Park area. Fishing also was good at Ridgefield, where anglers averaged 10.5 fish per rod, and at Vernita, where anglers averaged 6.1 fish per rod.

To date, anglers have caught 93,459 pikeminnows, with 125 tagged fish recovered. There were seven tagged fish recovered last week, with one tagged fish for every 945 pikeminnows caught. On Sunday, the water temperatures at Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day dams were 69.4, 69.5 and 70.4 degrees, respectively.


MINERAL: Cool water near the inlet of Mineral Creek has been producing some strings of trout. Chartreuse Power Bait, lemon-lime, yellow and rainbow Power Eggs have been the most popular baits. Worms and marshmallows also are being used. Last weekend, an 8-pound trout was caught at the north end of the lake.

SPANAWAY: Fishing has been slow for trout but good for perch and rock bass. It’s been the same whether anglers are in boats or on the bank, said Bud Herlitzka of Spanaway Park Boathouse.

OFFUT: Trout fishing has been mixed, but when the fish are on the bite, some nice-size rainbows are being taken. Mid-morning has been a good catch period, said Becky Pogue of Offut Lake Resort. Bass and perch are on the bite, with good catches being taken at the edges of lily pad clusters. Plastic worms have been the bait of choice. Scented shrimp and herring oil worms have been the preferred baits for trout.

AMERICAN: Fishing has been slow for trout and slightly better for perch. Worms on the bottom have produced the best results.

HARTS: Bass fishing has been good, with some in the 6-pound range caught. Crappie, perch and bluegill are biting, and some excellent strings of all three species have been taken. Channel catfish also are being caught.

Outdoors correspondent Bob Brown has lived in Washington for 35 years and got serious about fishing the region’s rivers and lakes in the mid-1970s. He can be reached at