Anglers anticipate salmon success

"Sebo's employee Jamie Arnold tidies up the Buzz Bomb rack which is attracting anglers preparing for the opening of salmon season next Wednesday.Jim Larsen / staff photoDon't forget a licenseDon't forget to purchase a license before going salmon fishing. Costs range from $6.57 for a two-day license to $39.42 for a combination freshwater, saltwater and shellfish license good for an entire year. Licenses may be purchased at Sebo's in Bayview, Ace Hardware in Freeland, and Jim's Hardware in Clinton. Regulations are complex, so pick up and study a copy of the 2001/2002 Fishing in Washington rule book published by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Be forewarned that for the first time, Social Security numbers must be provided when purchasing a license. This is required by federal law enacted to improve child support compliance.Waters all around Whidbey Island opened for salmon fishing Aug. 1. If you want to fish from Whidbey Island, every place is open, from the tip of North Whidbey to the tip of South Whidbey.All signs are pointing to the best salmon season in several years.Larry Schneider, owner of Bush Point Rod & Reel, has fished that area for decades and said he's very optimistic.I've been watching the past week and there's lots of birds and lots of bait, he said, referring to schools of bait fish such as candlefish and herring that are followed by hungry seabirds. And there's lots of fish coming through the strait.The state Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that fishing off the coast, which opened earlier this summer, has been the best in years, and that there seem to be plenty of humpies in the Strait of Juan de Fuca heading this way. Right behind them later in August will be coho.The outlook is far better than last year, which Schneider described as a disaster. The 2000 season opened late in many areas and was cut short. Anglers had to race between Bush Point and Possession Point, depending on the date on the calendar. But this year the seasons are synchronized and easier to understand.The first salmon to arrive will be humpies (pinks) on their biannual migration. These are all good signs, Schneider said. Birds, bait, humpies and silvers.Stores that sell fishing tackle have been feeling the rush. Scott Smith at Sebo's hardware in Bayview said fishermen are snapping up Buzz Bombs, a heavy jig popular with people who cast from the shore. Especially hot is a new flexible Buzz Bomb-type lure that can be bent depending on the action desired. We're selling those like hotcakes, he said.Humpies are known to like the color pink, so Sebo's and other stores are well stocked with pink and fluorescent pink lures. For coho, also known as silver salmon, blue on a silver background works well, according to Smith. He should know as he's fished for salmon from island beaches for 15 years.Color, however, is a matter of fashion and each angler's history of success. Green is popular too, said Smith.The Cooper family at Possession Point Bait Company is expecting perhaps the best fishing season in 10 years, said Angie Cooper, basing her prognostication state Fisheries reports plus the number of salmon she's already seen swim by. The fish are here, she said Thursday. It's supposed to be a phenomenal year.Anglers are keeping a close eye on Possession where there are plenty of fish but limited space to fish from the shore. Don Franett has fished the Lagoon Point area for many years and he too is hopeful that the fish will be biting. They've told us it should be a good year but we don't know anything until we get a line in the water, he said.Franett finds success by using a downrigger and trolling a flasher and rubber Hootchie at a depth of 30 to 40 feet. For coho he sometimes uses flies. Herring are productive both from shore and in the deep, but they also attract dogfish so Franett prefers the artificial lures.Franett also prefers pink for humpies. When silvers arrive he uses a bigger flasher and a pearl, pink or green Hootchie. "

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