It’s no surprise that good fishing attracts salmon anglers to this city located on the Northern Olympic peninsula. Port Angeles is right on the Strait of Juan de Fuca salmon highway and withholds its reputation as a northwest destination for salmon anglers.
The spots I recommend are off Ediz Hook in 120 feet of water then out on the Humps and the Winter Hole. The Hook can be great trolling from the east tip down past the Coast Guard station and back to the boat ramp on the outside. At times it also provides good blackmouth fishing on the inside, giving good protection and calm waters in all but the East wind.
The Winter Hole is located north out in front of the Daishowa Mill where the water depth goes from 180 to 60 feet. This has always been one of the top producers for winter salmon. The first, second, and third humps are located out further and slightly west of the Winter Hole. To find them it’s best to get a chart and program the coordinates into a gps unit, or simply follow another boat out of the marina.
The Winter Hole and the Humps are great spots to jig Point Wilson Darts and Butterfly jigs in the smaller candlefish patterns. They can be deadly on these underwater hilltops, where hungry blackmouth hold and feed. I recommend the smaller sized Darts and use just the size needed to maintain bottom contact. Smaller is always better this time of the year, as the bait tends to run small.
Farther to the west is Freshwater Bay, another top winter blackmouth producer. Troll 120 feet of water from Observation Point down to Tongue Pt. Watch for an east wind when fishing here, as it can be a rough ride back to Ediz Hook ramp when it blows. There is a boat ramp at Fresh Water Bay, but it’s definitely a small boat show, and you need to back out on the beach in the water on a lower tide.
Fish the bottom at Freshwater Bay and bait is located work the gear near it. Best fishing will be first light and the tide changes.
Port Angeles and Freshwater Bay can produce some big kings when these areas are open during the summer. Most of the kings headed for rivers on the northern Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound have to pass by here, which makes it a great spot for targeting big chinook. There has been a limited fishery in recent years for summer chinook that have fin clipped adipose fin. This fishery occurs in July and last one-two weeks or until the quota is met. It can be very good if the chinook have started migrating into the area. Fishing techniques here are similar to winter fishing but lengthen your leaders and slow down you’re trolling speed.
Coho fishing picks up here in August and peaks in September. Work the offshore tide rips and any “rippy” water or eddies formed off the points, which all can produce good coho fishing.
During odd years millions of pink salmon enter Puget Sound and guess what, many of them have to pass right by Port Angeles. Massive schools of humpies will pass though this area. These are easily caught and usually taken in the top 60 feet of water. Those trolling with divers or kidney sinkers and a cut plug herring will catch a lot of humpies without the need of a downrigger. Another great pink salmon technique is a small pink hoochie behind a white flasher. The majority of the pink salmon will be in the top 60 feet of water.
One of the most pleasurable things about this time of the year is the lack of crowds. Many times I have fished Sekiu and had all the prime areas to fish with little or no angler pressure and plenty of hook ups. The fish are not giants like their summer returning brothers, but action can be fast and furious on blackmouth that range in size from just legal up into the teens.
Starting to the east of Sekiu you can find some very productive angling in close to Clallam Bay. You only need to go around the corner from the boat ramp and mooch out if front of the Caves to score on some nice fish. Winter fishing is all weather dependent and it’s best to check the weather before making the drive. There will be fish out there all winter long and the locals hammer then whenever the weather settles down enough to fish.
My personal favorite area is to launch at Sekiu and then run east to Pillar Point, trolling back with the outgoing tide. The area from Pillar Point to Cod Fish Bay has over the years been one of my top producers. Troll the 120 to 130 foot depth line and keep the gear just off bottom. After fishing this area move up and troll off the Coal Mine to Little Mussolini Rock. Here you want to fish the 130 to 150 feet of water.
Next stop on the Westerly troll is Big Mussolini Rock on Slip Point. This is also a great mooching and jigging area. Back across Clallam Bay, the Caves just out front of Sekiu are probably one of the most famous spots to fish here. Many a big king and blackmouth has been taken here by both moochers and trollers. The Caves all the way down to the Sekiu River can provide top notch blackmouth fishing during the winter months. Both trolling and mooching are very productive here, working the 120 foot depth one hour before to two hours after the tide change.
When open for summer kings in July it’s hard to find even an open dock space or open motel room here, so book early if you plan to fish this one for summer kings. Known as one of the states top chinook fisheries, Sekiu has earned a reputation for some of the northwest’s best fishing for summer chinook.
Early morning mooching off the kelp beds near the Caves is almost a right of passage for this area and trolling off Slip Point up and down the coast regularly produces catches of chinook. Keep an eye peeled on your sonar to locate bait and target that depth with your downriggers, as the fish won’t be far behind.
Coho fishing starts here July and numbers of fish increase into August, with silver action peaking in September. Work the offshore tide rips and eddy edges formed by Slip and Pillar points, which all both produce great Coho fishing.
On odd numbered years pink salmon swarm by Sekiu in the millions. Massive schools of humpies will pass though this area. These are easily caught with either cut plug herring or a white flasher and pink hoochie combination in the top 60 feet of water. Those trolling with divers or sinkers will catch a lot of humpies without the need of a downrigger.
Good trolling and mooching area, with the north and south sides of the rip favored as top locations. Watch the rip here during the winter with a westerly wind as it can be pretty tricky.
Point Disney itself as a prime piece of fishing real-estate. Tides moving in and out for rips currents off the point and salmon will gather to feet on bait caught in the stronger flows. This whole area yields fish to trollers, as well being in excellent spot the motor mooch or drift mooch.
Deepwater Bay just off the southeast tip of Cypress Island provides just about a full mile of ideal trolling water. With the exception of one tricky spot, the entire stretch is good Blackmouth water ranging from 100-120 feet. The tricky spot is a high reef area emerging from the bottom directly out from Secret Harbor as the top rises to within 25-30 feet a surface. It’s rocky, and a real tackle grabber. If you’re using downriggers keep a serious keep your eye on the sonar. The depth goes from 80 feet to 30 feet and nothing flat. The usual trolling pattern commences just off the southeast tip of Cypress, and runs in the North Northwesterly direction toward the far Eastern tip of Island. This tip forms the tip of Deepwater bay. Following this pattern just be sure to skirt the reef mentioned above.
Eagle Bluff offers another prime holding area; resting and feeding water for Chinook. Rips off the tip of the Bluff provide prime mooching waters as well for trolling. Starting in a hundred feet water offshore swinging north and west staying in 100 feet offshore into your off the tip of the Bluff then make a turn out into the break line. Also try south of the bay (Eagle Bluff) in 90′ to 120′ of water.
Trolling downriggers is the favored method for fishing when a Blackmouth off Tide Point and the major fishing areas located north and east of the point. To effectively fish this area it should be on the outgoing tide, during the slack just before the ebb or during the slack and just after the change of the ebb to flood. Tremendous eddies form to the northeast of the point during the outgoing tide and is this water where all the food in the salmon are congregated.
Winter Blackmouth/Summer Kings
They don’t call it Salmon Bank for nothin’. Fish the east side of Salmon Bank on the incoming tide. The troll area is 2.5 to 3 miles long. It’s best to keep the gear right near the bottom, as the usual baitfish here is candlefish, which hug the bottom. When the tide switches around move over and target the west side of the bank. Like other areas like it, having a good quality sonar is critical here, as there are no landmarks to line up the troll on. Most of Salmon Bank extends out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Coho fishing can get going here in late July, but usually August and September are best. Trolling a red flasher with a green splatter back hoochie will hook silvers here, as will cut plug herring either fished with a flasher or alone. Coho will usually be in the top 50 feet of water early in the morning, but as the day goes on the best fishing will often occur with the gear down 90 to as much as 130 feet.
Located just around the corner from Possession Bar and across Puget Sound from Point No Point, Whidbey Island’s Double Bluff and nearby Useless Bay account for some decent catches of salmon without the angling pressure generated at Possession Bar.
Double Bluff is best fished on the incoming tide. Work the steep edge that drops off here, staying in 70 to 90 feet of water You can troll right into Useless Bay, staying on the edge of the shelf, in 90 to 120 feet of water, and look for concentrations of bait-fish on the bottom.
There has been a limited fishery in recent years for summer Chinook that have fin-clipped adipose fins. This fishery occurs in July and lasts one to two weeks or until the state generated quota is met. It can be very good if the Chinook have started migrating into the area. Fishing techniques here are similar to winter fishing, but slow down the trolling speed and lengthen your leaders for summer Chinook. 50 to 55 inch leaders aren’t too long in this fishery.
Coho fishing at Double Bluff and Useless Bay picks up in August and peaks in September. Work the tide rips off the Double Bluff and Indian Point, which all can both produce good Coho fishing.
The North Sound fishery called “the Bubble” is the best, closest and easiest-access chinook fishery available. This fishery can produce some nice fish at times, be is very unpredictable.
Your choice of technique should be heavily influenced by your location in the “Bubble”
Tulalip bay can be broken down into an inshore/bottom oriented fishery and an offshore/suspended fishery. Inshore across the bay and on Mission Bar you’ll see jiggers, moochers and sinker/diver trollers all taking fish. Outside however, downriggers dominate the scene. Sure, you’ll see the occasional moocher or jigger out there but day in & day out it is very difficult to compete with a good ‘rigger man.
So, where does the inside fishery end and the outside fishery begin? For the sake of argument I would put the line at the 100-foot mark. This 100-foot demarcation is somewhat arbitrary but holds up in the light of technique-related depth limitations.
While the outside fishery is where many fishermen who work hard at it. Outside fishermen will find their best success using Pro-Troll Hot-Spot flasher gear (40-60″ leaders) rigged with Silver Horde Kingfisher spoons, and squids. Silver Horde plugs are a good bet outside as well as whole herring.
So, what gives you the edge over all of the other outside trollers? Easy, fish at the right depth.
Correct depth is using your sounder and put your gear at the same depth as the fish.
While we are targeting suspended (hovering off the bottom) fish in the outside fishery, once you come inside the focus shifts to kings hugging the bottom. Even though it is possible to troll the bottom closely with downriggers, the accuracy and effectiveness of bouncing a Pt Wilson Dart on the bottom works better.
High tides, particularly in the morning will pull kings into the bay. This is a great time to be trolling inside. If you mark a pile of bait, kings or both then it’s time to pull out the jig rods and drop the darts on their heads.
Once the tide starts to ebb and the sun rises in the sky, the kings have two good reasons to get off the flats, loss of depth/cover and increased light level. Anticipate the kings desire to bail out of the bay and get to the edges of the bar and intercept them as they flee to the deep water.
Low tides virtually dry up Tulalip Bay as well as Mission Bar. When this occurs during midday it’s time to move outside and start trolling. The edge of the bar is just too shallow and bright to hold kings in the mood to bite. So, look for Chinook suspended in the deeper water.
Mid Channel Bank is located just a short run from Port Townsend harbor and provides great fishing opportunities anytime of the year it’s open for fishing. Most of the fishing takes place just past Mid Channel bank itself, which is located in very shallow water. Crossing over the bank the water depth drops rapidly from 50 to 120 feet and deeper. The majority of fish are caught from Point Wilson to Marrowstone Island with trolling, mooching, and jigging all popular methods for taking salmon here.
It’s generally best to troll with the tide here. On the incoming tide troll from Point Wilson to Marrowstone Island and on the outgoing tide reverse the troll, heading the opposite direction. Hug the bottom here, as winter resident Chinook will be here feeding on candlefish or herring that are usually right on the bottom. Many times I even bounce my downrigger balls on the bottom here to stir up mud and simulate salmon rooting candlefish out of the bottom. Moochers and jiggers look for bait on the sonar and setup right on top of the bait school to score Blackmouth and kings. The best fishing action will occur one hour before to two hours after a tide change.
There is a very limited fishery here for kings that’s usually one to two weeks long. The fishing technique is much the same as it is for Blackmouth, the only change that I make is to lengthen my leaders and slow down the troll speed a little bit. The king action can be very good if the chinook have started migrating into the area.
Coho fishing usually picks up here in August and peaks sometime in September. Like other areas in the Strait or Puget Sound, look for tide rips off the points here and troll a little faster than normal. You really can’t troll too fast for silvers and covering water until school is located is a great approach.
The trolling patterns are from Fidalgo Head to the small bay just west of the mouth of flounders Bay from inside Fidalgo Head to the northwest corner of Burrows Island and from this point along the western shore of the Fidalgo Head to Green Point. One thing to keep in mine fishing this area is too frequently check your terminal gear make sure you are trolling weeds on your terminal tackle; so check every 15 to 30 minutes.
Fidalgo Head and Burrows Island water can be fished with easy access for Skyline Marina. The area is protected by the San Juan Islands from all except the stiff west wind and is close enough to home base should it the wind blow up. Flashers with squids, herring whole and cutplug all produce fish here.
Possession Bar is the big time salmon hang out where salmon love to pig out on the herring that the current sweeps across the bar during tidal movements.
Possession Bar is the southern extension of Whidbey Island. On the flood tide, the water rushes across it from west to east and vice versa on the ebb. This creates a big eddy on each side of bar where bait balls up to escape the relentless current. That’s where the salmon feed.
Bar Downrigger Tactics
Fish the east side of Possession on the flood, and the west side on the ebb.
My favorite tide is the outgoing tide fishing the west side. Troll the 120-140 foot ledge line with your tackle just off bottom. You will need a good sonar to troll here, theirs not any road markers when fishing the bar and locating the bait that stacks up against the ledge will be the key to scoring on Blackmouth here and to keep from hanging up downrigger balls on the grabby bar.
Mooching; you can do it even with the notoriously monster tides this area is known for. On the east side of the bar try drifting off from the shallow to the deep water. Try to pop bottom with the sinker two or three times then reel up a couple of cranks. On the west side you will have to drift up from the 220 water up to 90 feet. Start with 4 oz. then move up to 6 oz. if you can’t get down. As with trolling find the bait- find the fish.
Fish the contour of the bank, try and sty just off the bottom. Best fishing will occur one hour before to two hours after a tide change. Start in the 120 line if you don’t make bait or fish move out and re-troll the same edge in deeper water so you can bracket the water looking for bait.
Vast numbers of summer Chinook, pass over this bar on their return to spawn in the Skagit’ Snohomish, and Stillaguamish river systems. Why not open most of the season there has been a limited fishery recently for summer chinook that have fin clipped adipose fin. This fishery occurs in July and last one-two weeks or until the quota is met. It can be very good if the chinook have started migrating into the area. Fishing techniques here are similar to winter fishing but slow down you’re trolling speed and lengthen your leader length.
Coho fishing picks up here in August and peaks in September. Work the tide rips off the Bar and off the points which all can produce good coho fishing.
The closest and best salmon fishing off Redondo starts just about 100 yards a way from Salty’s Restaurant and the public fishing pier. Most salmon seekers will troll from just off Saltwater State Park south to Dumas Bay. This productive area is best fished in 90 to 100 feet of water before moving further off the beach into deeper water as the sun gets brighter later in the day.
Winter blackmouth are caught regularly by locating concentrations of baitfish on the sonar. Areas with baitfish will usually kick out the most blackmouth during the winter months, as the resident chinook won’t go far from the bait.
Summer will see chinook migrating past the beach, starting in July, as they migrate towards river systems in the south Puget Sound. The middle water, from 50 to 80 feet in depths of 100 to 120 feet, will generally produce the top action on summer chinook.
Just across the sound from Redondo brings you to one of Puget Sound’s top southern salmon fisheries, Robinson Point. The deep drop off here holds a ton of baitfish. This area doesn’t receive nearly the angler pressure of Pt. Defiance or other popular kings. When fishing Robinson Point troll with the tide and bracket the area from shallow to deeper water until you find the depth the fish are migrating through. Both moochers and trollers score fish here when the migration kicks into gear.
Safety Note: The Redondo boat ramp can be very difficult for launch and recovery on a windy day or a low tide, so take this into account when trying to recover your vessel in a stiff afternoon breeze.
Point Jefferson is a well known salmon producer along with its cousins Possession Bar and Point No Point.
The troll in predominantly form the North near Presidents Point on the incoming tide south to Jefferson Head. Blackmouth troll the 120 – 140 line with your tackle just off the bottom. When you hook the end of Jeff Head troll off to the West then make a large circle staying in the 120ft depth range.
As the tide switches reserve your course a troll north back towards Presidents Point. Start shallow in the morning and keep adding depth on each pass until you mark bait or score a hook up.
As July rolls in large fall king salmon will pass by here depending on the seasons on fin clipped salmon fishing can be quite spectacular for large fall kings.
Access for trailer boats is Kingston or across the sound from Shilshole Marina in Seattle.
The Chambers Creek summer chinook fishery begins to heat up in early August. Located between Tacoma and Steilacoom it’s a bounty for local anglers looking to get for a few hours of fishing and shot at a chinook salmon.
Depending upon rainfall the fishery can run well into September if the creek doesn’t get enough rain to push the salmon upstream. These fish are referred to as cookie cutter kings by locals, as they all seem to be 10 to 15 pounds in size.
Top fishing at Chambers is just off the creek mouth on a flood tide. Jiggers with Point Wilson Darts or Butterfly Jigs do really well at first light in the drop offs located just to the north of the railway bridge that denotes the entrance to Chambers creek. All fishing takes place outside of this bridge.
Trolling just outside of the drop off to the north and south of the entrance can also produce good chinook fishing.
Winter Blackmouth can be found here year round, but most of the fishing takes place from October thru April. The Clay Banks, located just off Pt. Defiance, is best fished on the outgoing tide. The strong current from the Tacoma Narrows will push bait into the back eddy formed by Pt. Defiance and fish will show up to feed on the baitfish. Best fishing depths for Blackmouth are 90 to 150 feet with the tackle just off the bottom. Most of the action will take place one hour before to two hours after the tide change. Another option is to try tolling off the Slag Pile, as fish will hold up in the drops offs just off the point.
On the incoming tide move north across Dalco passage and fish Point Dalco. Fish the same water depths as the Clay Banks, concentrating the gear on or near the bottom. Trolling off the mouth of Quartermaster Harbor can also be very productive for Blackmouth.
The summer king fishery at Point Defiance starts in late July and can stay productive into September, sometimes lasting the entire month depending on how much rain the area receives pushing fish up into local rivers. Ocean coho will usually start to appear in late August and can provide sporadic action into the middle of October.
Target the same fishing areas and tides as with winter Blackmouth, but these fish are migratory and the bite can come on throughout the day. The best fishing will be just after first light and just before dark. While fishing the bottom can be productive here, so can trolling with the gear down about 50 feet, keeping the boat in 90 to 120 feet of water. The Gig Harbor shoreline near the mouth of the harbor tends to see lots of action during the August fishery at Point Defiance and is always an option of the point is slow.
Chums will start to arrive here in late October and will continue well into December. Target the Gig Harbor Shoreline both north and south of the harbor mouth and the west side of Vashon Island.
One of the top salmon locations in the South Sound is the Tacoma Narrows.
Point Evans is the first Point just north of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on the Gig Harbor side of the bridge. The currents through this area are strong and will push tons of baitfish into the area during tidal movements.
The top fishing takes place between Pt. Evans and the bridge. On an incoming tide start your drift under the power lines near Pt. Evans and drift towards the Narrows Bridge. The second red ball on the power line from the shore is over 80-ft. of water and a good place to set up for a drift.
If you’re mooching, drop your fresh cutplug herring down so it’s just off bottom. The strength of the current will dictate the amount of lead you will need to stay there. As you move south the Narrows will increase in depth and it’s important to keep your tackle just off the bottom to produce strikes.
If you’re a jigger then bring a selection of Point Wilson Darts in herring and needlefish sizes or several different weights of Buzz Bombs. If the current picks up on you while jigging you may have to back into it with your kicker motor to slow your drift and keep the jig vertical in the water column to produce strikes.
On the outgoing tide start just north of the bridge and drift back up to Point Evans.
Since this area has such strong currents the best fishing will take place one hour before to an hour after the tide changes on bigger tidal changes. On days with lesser tidal movements you can fish two hours either side of the tide. Pt. Evans is a good year round producer for winter blackmouth and summer returning kings.
Check your WDFW regulations for season openings and closings, as the Narrows Bridge is the boundary between Marine Areas 11 & 13. The season and salmon limits can vary depending on what side of the bridge you are fishing on.
During May, lingcod is targeted on the Tacoma side of the Narrows, drifting from Salmon Beach back to the bridge fishing large horse herring and sole.
You need to hit a slack tide, but some nice fish are taken every year. Avoid fishing directly under the bridge as the wreckage from Galloping Gerty, the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge is laying there. This is a tackle grabbing nightmare for anglers.
Another hazard in the area, besides the strong current, is shipping. Large ships, yachts and barge traffic pass through here so you need to keep an eye peeled at all times.
Pt. Defiance Park Eight-lane launch ramp, open year round from sunrise to sunset, is located next to the Vashon Ferry Terminal at Point Defiance Park. They also offer a bait and tackle shop, gas dock and boat rentals.
Forming the northern boundary of Tacoma’s Commencement Bay, Browns Point is squarely on the migration route for Chinook and Silver salmon bound for the nearby Puyallup River.
Browns Point sees its fair share of winter blackmouth action, especially between the Browns Point lighthouse and Dash Point farther to the north. Trolling the area between the points can produce some nice resident kings. Best fishing would be on the 120-ft. line with your tackle trolled just off the bottom.
During July you start to see the return of the kings to the Puyallup River with action peaking in August.
Following the Kings, silvers bound for the Puyallup will start to show and depending on the amount of rain we get this area can be productive through all of September.
Where to Fish
I have had my best luck on Chinook during August fishing the deep drop offs located in front of Browns Point.
Here baitfish are pushed into a pocket on the outgoing tide. As the tide picks up flow, the bait from Commencement Bay gets sucked into a pocket here along the ledges, making it a target rich environment for salmon.
Silver Horde glow white 5″ rattle plugs work well, as do flasher and squid combinations for fall kings and blackmouth. Let’s not leave out the whole and cutplug fresh herring, the trusted bait of choice for most local anglers.
For fall silvers, trolling cutplug herring off downriggers or from a diving planer in the top 30 ft. of the water in the early hours can produce nice catches of fall Coho. Later in the day I have taken fish 50-90 ft. off the riggers trolling a figure S-pattern off the Point.
Most of the Coho are hatchery fish and gearing down to lightweight rods and line can make the day’s fishing a lot more fun.
One of my favorite techniques is to troll a flasher off the downrigger ball and run a Silver Horde spoon or a cutplug herring just above it. Many times referred to as the “Ace in the Hole”, this setup gives you the attraction of a flasher without the pull on the line of the flasher when you hook up with a salmon.
The closest public boat ramp to Browns Point is located just across the bay at Point Defiance Park.
Big ocean bright kings come rolling in at the beginning of August. They’re heading to the south sound mecca where Chinook still school in tide rips in numbers that make depth finders go crazy.
You will start seeing these fish showing up around Pt. Defiance, Pt. Evans and on the south end of Fox Island near Fox Pt. and Gibson Pt. around the middle of July. Early August Lyle Point on the south end of Anderson Island is where you want to be. Over the years I have fished here. That's one of the most popular areas for kings. They take a bunch at Lyle Pt. and by Thompson Cove and fish the eddies near Anderson Island.
Near the tide changes you will definitely see rips forming off either side of the point near Lyle. This area holds plenty of bait and has been a consistent king producer.
The first part of August, the action switches over to the green can off the mouth of the Nisqually River. Mooching and jigging are most popular here. The incoming and high tides are when the bite happens. Anglers have their best fishing at the tide changes, from one hour before to two hours after.
Lyle Point at Anderson Island is where the action begins before moving to McCallister Creek-Nisqually Delta. Cut plug herring works well at Anderson Island mooched or trolled off downriggers. The green can near the Nisqually Delta Area produces better on Pt. Wilson Darts in white and green.
Thompson Cove is a small cove just north of Lyle Point. Lots of bait in here, light line motor mooching herring works well, kings are taken every year here in as little as 15-20 ft of water. Troll slowly with the current and keep your bait near the bottom.
Off Lyle Pt. the emphasis is on the southwest shoreline where it eddies on both sides. It’s a good mooching area. The bottom tapers off near shore from 30-100 ft. There’s a trough that holds baitfish. This is great holding & feeding water for kings.
Moochers can get a good drift swinging parallel with the southwest shoreline. That will allow you to drift to the deepest point. The water runs south to west. Constant adjustments are needed to stay near the bottom here. You will need 4-6 oz. of lead and a cut-plug. The closer to the flood tide the more emphasis you should put on fishing the broken bottom on the shallow ledge. You will be able to see the edge of the ledge by the choppy water created by changing tide.
When the kings move towards the delta fishing off the green can be a jigger’s paradise. 60-90 ft of prime water, when the tide run is slow, will allow you to work your Dart right on top of the holding Chinook. Use the smallest size you can maintain bottom contact with. Use a stiffer rod like a steelhead back bouncer and one of the new super lines like Tuff-Line to a ball bearing swivel. From the swivel use a 4-5 ft. piece of clear 15-pound leader to the jig. Keep your line vertical in the water; you may have to back your kicker motor into the current to do it. Stay in contact with the bottom, raising the rod tip and allowing the jig to flutter back down.
One area that gets overlooked is the shoreline from the Nisqually River north. There was at one time a gunpowder loading pier on the beach, just north of the river. This shoreline all the way up to Ketron Island is good trolling water. A flasher rigged with a whole herring or a Silver Horde spoon in green and white glo can add to your score card. If the tide is out going troll north, on the incoming tide troll south along the shoreline.
The bite is a distinct creature that tends to change day after day. Sometimes it's dawn or dusk. Most of the time it will happen at the change of the tide. Fish as many of these prime times as you can to increase your odds.
South Sound Kings
Starts mid July peaks mid August. Fish Lyle Point to start then the green can mid August.
1) Nearest is Zittel’s Marina (360-459-1950) is a full service Marina
2) Steilacoom is just a driveway to the water and only for small boats (16’ or less). Open 24 hours.
This Kitsap Peninsula workhorse sometimes takes a back seat to its well-known cousins Jeff Head just to the north, and Pt. Defiance to the south, but prudent anglers know Manchester provides consistent winter Blackmouth action right up to the 10 April closer.
Manchester inlet is one of the most reliable, wind sheltered and close by fisheries for winter Blackmouth and is a quick boat ride from Elliott Bay, Tacoma or Bremerton.
I would agree with Pecoaro having fished this area for many years, it is as consistent as south sound angling gets this time of year.
“It’s a really short run from Elliott Bay and about 11 miles from Gig Harbor by water. "
This area was a real salvation last year when Pt. Defiance died off and before Mid Channel Bank heated up. “One of the great things about fishing Manchester is you're not restricted to one area, if the bite is off that day, you have several other close by options.
Where to Fish
The majority of the fish will be taken between the fuel dock, and the turquoise boathouse located a mile just to the south. This troll or drift for moochers puts out the majority of the fish.
The bottom is gently sloping in this area with a relatively smooth bottom, no big ledge or points. This makes mooching a good bet in the 90-100 ft water.
Trollers will catch fish out in the deeper water here targeting suspended bait schools that attract the local Blackmouth into feed.
Like most locations in this area the ebb tide seems to be the most favorable. You can catch fish on either tide, and normally the bite will happen 2 hours on either side of a tide change.
It's almost like fishing a bank, the bottom is nice with few obstructions to hang up on so you can really get the downrigger balls right down there where Mr. Blackmouth lives.
I have seen days where all the boats were limited in a couple of hours, last year I had a day where we caught & released over 15 legal size fish in 5 hours of fishing.
Seals can be a problem here, so be aware when lots of boats start to show up, so do the salmon belly eaters.
This time of the year Blackmouth normally run from the just legal 22 inch fish up to 10 pounds and of course there are always a few in teen’s taken every year.
Work the long trolling path from Orchard Point towards the Navy Fuel dock then in toward Manchester boat ramp and on down south to the turquoise boathouse.
This area stays relatively fat with only a couple of humps. The majority of the bait holds in the 90-120 ft water here.
When you reach the boathouse turn east towards Blake Island and follow this ledge out until the bottom starts to drop off, then it’s a simple turn back North to complete the circle to back to Orchard Point and do it again. Pay close attention to the fishfinder when you make the turn north, the bait tends to move up to the mid water depths here and the fish will follow, target just under the bait ball with the rigger, this is where the fish will be feeding.
The best mooching happens between the Fuel Dock and the Manchester ramp, there is also a great mooching on the North end of Blake Island the shallow bank here can really producer for moochers. The top mooching water is in 80-120 ft. Fish just off the bottom, with 10-12 pound leaders and a tight spinning cut plug herring. Use only the amount of lead you need to stay in contact with the bottom.
There is a new ramp at Manchester, it has a dock and it is only 5 minutes from the best fishing. The parking lot is however small and won’t hold many rigs.
For the Seattle crowd the Don Armeni boat ramp in Elliot Bay is a straight shot across the sound from Manchester.
There is also a small ramp in the city center of Port Orchard and at Evergreen City Park in Bremerton.
If the Bite is Off
Head south to Southworth and then run over to Allen Bank.
At Southworth there’s a great hole just north of the ferry terminal. Troll the ledge here or move in close and pitch a herring in toward the beach and drift down the ledge.
The better producing tackle here is the Grand Slam bucktail or a white Coho Killer for trollers.
Allen Bank is a great piece of salmon holding water that runs south off the southwest corner of Blake Island north of Vashon outward to perfect Blackmouth holding water.
This is a big drift, and almost always there are some fish around waiting to hammer tight spinning bait, even when the Manchester fishing turns off.
The Blackmouth can be caught here on either tide but the best action is on the ebb. Start on the south end of the bar in the 130 ft water and drift with the current north up across the bank.
Top action will be in the 90-120 ft water, with almost all the fish being taken just off bottom.
Trollers will want a supply of Glow Pro Troll flashers and Silver Horde Coho Killer spoons.
Moochers will want to run 10-15 pound test main lines, with long 10-12 pound test 8-9 foot leaders, with a selection of 2-6 oz mooching sinkers. Size your hooks to the bait. Ensure the herring has a drill bit like spin in the water.
Summer Chinook return in good numbers to the Duwamish River and its tributaries. Winter Blackmouth (if bait is present) are usually in the bay in good numbers from November through March. Coho fishing usually is a little slower than other areas in Puget Sound. Coho return in good numbers but are not always aggressive biters.
All fishing within Elliott Bay is controlled by the seasons set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and of course tribal netting. Therefore, read your regulations and pray the tribal fishermen haven’t cleaned out the bay the night before you fish.
Winter Blackmouth fishermen also have the opportunity to participate in one of the most unique salmon derbies anywhere.
While the areas to fish in Elliott Bay remain for the most part the same, terminal tackle changes with the salmon runs and bait size. Here are some guidelines.
The spawning Chinook usually begin arriving in June and by July they are there in good numbers. By August 15th, most Chinook are already in the Duwamish and catch rates drop dramatically.
Silver Horde Gold Star Squids fished 42 to 44 inches behind a ProTroll flasher with your top hook tipped with a herring teaser is very effective.
Spoons are perhaps the easiest and one of the most productive lures for Elliott Bay. The Kingfisher Lite spoon in any of the Glo/UV colors fished behind a flasher will do the trick.
All of the above artificial lures should be smeared with Pro Cure Bloody Tuna , or Shrimp Gel scent.
Resident Coho are usually in the area from June until October. These are first caught in the fishery as one to three pounders in July and by September can hit the teens.
Ocean Coho usually start returning about mid-September and the size ranges from 8 pounds to 15 pounds, with a few larger.
A fast troll with lures usually is the ticket. They can be caught on bait, but artificial lures off a downrigger will usually out fish bait, simply because you can troll it faster.
Winter Blackmouth: The fishery for winter Blackmouth is a bottom fishery. Most winter Blackmouth will be caught in the bottom 10 feet of water.
Located on the east side of Orcas Island, should fish well on the big ebb tide, but will produce Chinook every month during the season, is easy to fish, and offers a forgiving bottom. Troll southwest from the point to the small Sea Acre resort, on bottom in 80 to 120 feet of water. You can troll it both directions, but don’t bother to fish it on the flood, after low slack, move to Eagle Bluff.
Carr Inlet reaches up into the fertile Oyster County of the Key Peninsula. Not known as a top south sound salmon location but it can produce some limited opportunities when the season allows.
The area between the West tip of Fox Island to Green Point will hold fish at times and is a good place to start fishing. Motor mooching just off the bottom accounts for most of the fish. If you don’t find bait here, move on up into the Inlet.
Trolling off Cutts and Raft Island can be productive and almost always you have the water to yourself. Moving farther up, Allen Point can be another sleeper spot along with trolling the middle of Henderson Bay near Purdy.
In the fall Chinook and Coho return to Minter Creek hatchery and motor mooching out front can account for some decent fishing also. I would also try off Thompson Spit near Glen Cove.
There is a ramp next to the Wauna Post Office in Purdy, it is very primitive and has a very small parking lot that requires you to pull out into Hwy 302 traffic to use. There is an unimproved ramp located next to the Fox Island Bridge. There is no dock and very limited parking.
One of the top locations to target salmon is the southern end of Fox Island. Three of the top locations are Fox Point on Hale passage, the Concrete Dock on the South end and Point Gibson farther to the south can all produce fish.
Fox Point is best to fish on an outgoing tide. Target the area just off the point. The bottom drops from 60-ft out to 150-ft. Blackmouth will hold on this deeper ledge. Trolling circles off the point shallow to deep can produce strikes. Watch for bait balls in the area the local fish will hone in on these. You can also troll the Northwestern shore in the 100-120 water up into Hale passage; this spot can put out some fish.
Point Gibson is better fished on the incoming tide. From Gibson Point, troll the 90-ft of water up the shoreline to the big rock on the beach. The bottom is very irregular here and you will really have to keep an eye on your sonar.
My best tactic has been to troll just above bottom, when I mark a bait ball on my sonar in one of the many dips along the troll, I kick the boat out of gear until my downrigger balls bounce bottom. I then put it back in gear. This tactic can really excite a Blackmouth to bite. You can also pick up fish trolling out into the deeper 120-140 water off the point when the bait moves out.
The public fishing pier (locally referred to as the concrete dock) on the south end of the Island can be a good spot to try on the last half of the incoming tide. Bait will get swept in here and fish will follow after it. The summer returning kings will rest in holes just south of the pier. Troll the 90-ft to 150-ft water out front of the dock. Best action on Blackmouth will be one hour before to two hours after the tide change. Summer kings it’s a get the offering in the face deal, just troll with the tide.
I will start with fresh herring on a 20 pound leader trolled behind the downrigger, if this doesn’t work, several spoons have over the years worked well for me. Try Silver Horde Kingfisher Lite or if the bait is bigger a Sonic Edge fished behind an 11” Pro Troll flasher works real well. Top colors have been army truck, green & white and the police car for the spoons.