Whidbey Island is hooked on fishing

Clinton resident Don Hoffler casts for coho at Bush Point on South Whidbey Monday. Fishing season is now in full swing and the experts are reporting a good year.  - Justin Burnett / The Record
Clinton resident Don Hoffler casts for coho at Bush Point on South Whidbey Monday. Fishing season is now in full swing and the experts are reporting a good year.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

Sometimes, even a polished cast and your best rod just aren’t enough to bring home the fish.

Clinton resident Don Hoffler had them both Monday evening as he sat fishing from a wooden stool, away from the crowd, at a less visited spot at Bush Point on South Whidbey.

He had “Ol Faithful” with him, a rod he made himself decades before. Yellow duct tape now secure the reel to the old cork grip, but Hoffler swore that he and that pole had landed hundreds of fish together over the years.

Coupled with a cast that he had nearly perfected over a lifetime of fishing, a cast he was more than willing to demonstrate to anyone willing to watch — and bend your ear while he’s at it — his odds of a fresh salmon dinner seemed better than most.

Yet he was one of many that day who left for home with an empty cooler, though he doesn’t begrudge it.

“It’s a lovely sunset area even if you don’t catch any fish,” Hoffler laughed.

Salmon season is in full swing and Whidbey Island beaches and shorelines are regularly peppered with anglers; some fishing from the beach with rubber waders while others buzz the waterways in boats.

While fishing appeared luke warm at Bush Point on Monday, and at Keystone this past Friday, this has overall been a pretty solid year, according to Gary Ando, the fishing expert at Ace Hardware in Freeland.

Humpies or pinks, one of the more numerous types of salmon, only run on odd years, which means that even years tend to be rather slow. While fishermen have to content themselves angling for the more elusive silver and coho salmon, they have done surprisingly well.

“This year has been exceptional,” Ando said. “It’s quite amazing, actually.”

The old tried-and-true Buzz Bomb is still producing and Ando recommends green or pink. But it’s a new lure, however, that’s the real buzz among anglers this year. Made in Sequim and dubbed the Rotator, it seems to be as attractive to fishermen as it is to salmon.

“It’s almost getting cultish,” Ando said. “I can’t keep them in stock.”

Whatever you use, the best time to fish from shore is around high tide, Ando said. Salmon are always running but they tend to get closest to shore around that time. He suggests new fisherman follow the simple guideline of hitting the beach an hour before until an hour after the high tide.

As always, anglers should consult the state rules for season dates, fish types and catch limits. They can be picked up for free at most stores where fishing supplies are sold or downloaded from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at



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