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Sport fishing looks promising in local waters
Recreational fishing, a big part of living in the San Juan Islands, attracts many tourists as well as local anglers. The season for recreational fishing opened on July 1, and already is showing promising results.
Although fishing in many parts of the West Coast are in collapse because of overfishing, with many ports having to shut down fishing completely, the Puget Sound has a strong run this year.
The season got a slow start due to the tides being extreme in the first week of fishing, but the amount and size of fish have since been picking up. Hopes are high, and already the first two weeks of this year’s season were better than last year.
Commercial fisherman Jack Giard said that this year will be noteworthy. “This will probably be a very good year for salmon. There is very cold water,” he said.
Giard said that there was also only one time in the recent past when the water was colder than this year, and that was in 1972. According to Giard, the cold water is good for salmon because there is more baitfish for them to eat. Based on what he has seen so far, Giard thinks that it is likely the run size may be bigger than predicted.
Andy Holman, vice president of the Puget Sound Anglers San Juan Islands chapter, agrees with Giard. “There is tons of bait,” he said.
For many, the hardest part has been finding the fish. According to Holman, the west side of San Juan Island has not been as good for fishing as usual, and there are many more fish to be found on the north and east sides of the island.
asked about this year in comparison with last year Holman is emphatic. “It’s hands down better,” he said.
Bigger fish are being caught. A 32-pound salmon was caught right off of Snug Harbor by a tourist from Hawaii, according to King’s Marine.
Large fish are also being caught all around the island. A 16-pounder was caught off Point Constitution recently.
For Captain Monty Runge of A Trophy Charters, San Juan Island’s only sport-fishing charter, the season is off to a decent start. Runge is finding that anglers are catching just as many fish as last year, with most being in the 12- to 18-pound range and, “a few in the 20s, even above that,” he said.
“It gets better as the season goes on,” Runge said. “We aren’t complaining right now.”
For Runge, who began fishing in the San Juans 15 years ago, the decline in fish over the years has not diminished his spirits, “We’re having a lot of fun, and that’s what counts,” he said of his charter fishing business.
The season usually starts off a bit slower in July, because the salmon are waiting for the rain to come to head out into the ocean. It’s expected that there will be a lot more fish in mid-August and on into September.
A new addition to sport fishing this year is the Puget Sound Anglers’ Salmon Derby. This new derby runs from July 1 to Sept. 28, with many prizes being awarded. Haley’s Bait Shop and Grill is sponsoring the event.