Sports

The humpies are running

John Pahlman of Seattle removes the hook from a pink salmon he caught Tuesday morning. The humpy was his first catch of the day on the beach at Bush Point in Freeland. Pahlman and over 50 fishers lined the beach in Area 9 to fish for salmon, hoping to catch some by high tide at about 11 a.m. - Jennifer Conway
John Pahlman of Seattle removes the hook from a pink salmon he caught Tuesday morning. The humpy was his first catch of the day on the beach at Bush Point in Freeland. Pahlman and over 50 fishers lined the beach in Area 9 to fish for salmon, hoping to catch some by high tide at about 11 a.m.
— image credit: Jennifer Conway

Fishers -- and even a few seals -- know this week is prime humpy season on Whidbey Island.

At 7 a.m. Tuesday over 50 people dotted the beach at Bush Point in Freeland. Their quest was the pink salmon -- also known as humpies -- which were literally jumping out of the water in front of eager fishers.

"This is a nice little fishing area here for guys that don't have boats," said Leo Longaker of Everett.

Longaker, who has been coming to South Whidbey for years with his fishing friends, said the fish they catch off Bush Point definitely make it worth their drive. Despite a long ferry line that morning due to a ferry boat temporarily out of commission on the Clinton-Mukilteo route, he and his four friends managed to make it to the beach by 6:45 a.m.

"Every year we come here we've caught fish," he said.

By 8 a.m. Longaker hadn't caught any fish, but was still in high spirits and holding out hope that by 11 a.m. -- during the high tide -- he would have a fish to take home to smoke or barbeque for dinner that night.

Longaker and his friends were not only competing with other fishers to take home a salmon, but with a few seals who were also catching their meal of the day 30 feet from shore. The men laughed as the seals swam around in circles while catching their breakfast.

According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife Web site, the daily limit for humans fishing Area 9 in Admiralty Inlet is four salmon, with no more than two coho until Aug. 31. While many fishers had just caught one salmon Tuesday morning, many had nothing to do but chat with their fishing comrades while they awaited the incoming tide.

Clinton resident Paralee Atkins rolled up her pants and waded into the water in her sandals. She said she is learning how to fish, and it was her second time fishing.

"I had a few days off from work," said Atkins.

While she was waiting for the perfect salmon to bite, Atkins got some practice reelin' 'em in with a couple of bullheads.

"Don't tell anyone," she said while unhooking a small fish and laughing. "I'll never hear the end of it."

Not far from Atkins, Sandra Jackson and her husband, Jim, of Coupeville, were trying their luck at snagging at humpy.

"I just like to come out and enjoy it," said Atkins. "If I don't (catch one) that's OK, I'm having fun."

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