Fish & Feathers: Ocean fishing for salmon

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>This is a sight every fisherman loves to see, a "Bird Bang." Gulls, pelicans and murrs dive on bait, and where there's bait there's salmon.

For those of you still waiting around to find out what the salmon a doing in Marine Area No. 1, wait no longer. It's here and the fishing is as hot as it's going to get. Friday off the mouth of the Columbia River was the perfect day for ocean fishing with little wind, a slight swell and a glassy ocean - you couldn't ask for better and the fish were there and feeding. Most charter boats were back in Ilwaco, with limits, by 10 a.m. some as early as 8:30 a.m. The size of the fish have increased two-fold over the previous week and recreational boats shared in the bonanza. Saturday produced a little wind but the ocean remained very fishable and the results were again spectacular.

If anyone has a taste for mackerel, they are not in short supply. One day they are nowhere to be found and the next day there is nowhere where they can't be found. If you don't like smoked mackerel, they might make good crab bait for later in the season. Salmon fishing has been has been a real "shootout" and you might think about bring along some extra bait, incase you get into a school of mackerel; they can go through it real fast.

Sunday morning started just as the previous two days, with a relatively calm bar and a smooth ocean. Inside of the Columbia River buoy and in about 130 feet of water, the fish were plentiful. Many recreational boaters including long-time fisherman, Dick Watrous, said "This is the best fishing we have seen in years. My deckhand Ted David, needs a little more experience on the net, but in spite of him, we have done very well." Sunday was a fabulous day with all fishermen returning with limits before noon. Several boats reported catches of Chinook as well as nice-sized Coho. This is truly the start of a fabulous Coho fishery. As usual the first charter boat limited out is the Coho King run by no other than Butch Smith - how he does it is a mystery to me.

AlbacoreThe fishery for tuna is excellent, right now, with many catches by recreational fishermen made within the 25-mile marker - one charter boat reported a catch of 80 fish within the 30-mile line, all with feathers and jigs. This is probably the most exciting fishery in the northwest and if you have not tried it give Sea Sport Fishing Charters (1-800 211-6611) or one of the local charter offices a call, not everyone goes for tuna. Sea Breeze Charters is not running tuna trips this season.

Buoy 10The Buoy 10 fishery opened in the river on Wednesday, Aug. 1 with an expected landed catch of 12,000 marked Coho in August and September. You better have your 2007 WDFW rulebook with you this year when fishing for Chinook salmon. When the Coho do move into the river, it should be an excellent fishery if ocean Coho catches are any indication of the run.

Ron Malast is skipper of the charter boat Big Dipper operating out of Sea Sport Fishing Charters in Ilwaco 642-8862.

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