A return of 800,000-plus chum to Puget Sound and Hood Canal will let the good times roll for anglers well into the holiday months.
Chum, better known as dog salmon for their gnarly looking jawline at spawning time, are one of the hardest fighting fish and can feel like a king salmon when hooked on the end of a line.
Those targeting chums will be glad to know that some of the traditional hot spots are giving up some early chums, and it will only get better in the next few weeks as that is the peak time to be out there wetting aline for them in Hood Canal and for chum returning south of Kingston.
Some early chum have already shown up in catches around estuaries off Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Johns Creek in Oakland Bay and the Hoodsport Hatchery in Hood Canal.
Here is a rundown from the creel checks that showed chum in catches:
- Chico Creek estuary in Dyes Inlet — Oct. 14: Three anglers caught no fish; Oct. 15: Two caught no fish; Oct. 17: One caught no fish; Oct. 18: 20 caught two chum; Oct. 19: 18 caught one chum; Oct. 20: 10 caught four chum.
- Curly Creek estuary near South-worth — Oct. 14: Six anglers caught two chum; Oct. 16: Two caught one chum; Oct. 20: Four caught one coho and two chum.
- Hoodsport shoreline, Hood Canal — Oct. 18: Six anglers caught one chum; Oct. 19: 21 caught 12 chum; Oct. 20: 14 caught three chum.
- Hartstene Island shoreline — Oct. 20: One angler caught three chum.
- Johns Creek estuary in Oakland Bay —Oct. 18: 14 anglers caught one chum.
- Tahuya ramp, Hood Canal — Oct. 17: One boats with three anglers caught 12 chum.
- Kennedy Creek estuary in Totten Inlet — Oct. 18: Three anglers caught no fish; Oct. 19: 17 caught seven chum; Oct. 20: Four caught no fish.
Hoodsport fish check:
- November 1 (26 anglers) (26 chum)
- November 2 (57 anglers) (110 chum)
- November 8 (29 anglers) (68 chum)
- November 9 (87 anglers) (210 chum)
Other good places to try for chum are North Bay near Allyn, Perry Creek in Eld Inlet, Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, McLane Creek, Eagle Creek south of Potlatch State Park, and the public-access shores off Highway 101 from Eldon to Hoodsport.
Winter Steelhead, Chinook, Coho, Chum and Pink Salmon, Cutthroat Resident and Sea-Run
Flows into the south end of Hoods Canal in Mason County
Take U.S.101 north from Shelton and turn left (north) on Skokomish Valley Road to drive upsteam. To reach lower portions of the river, turn east of U.S.101 onto Purdy Cutoff Road and follow the river downstream.
A Forest Service campground is located on the upper South Fork Skokomish, at the mouth of Brown Creek. Potlach State Park, about five miles north of the river on U.S.101 has two dozen camping sites, some with RV hookups. Food, gas, tackle and lodging are available in Shelton to the south and Hoodsport to the north.
Fishing the “Skoke”
The Skokomish is stocked with 20,000 to 30,000 winter steelhead smolts each year, the annual sport catch seldom tops 100 fish for the entire season. The North Fork of the Skokomish, is damned in two places to form Cushman and Kokanee Lakes, provides virtually no steelheading opportunity. The South Fork of the Skokomish is paralleled by the Skokomish Valley Road and other Forest Service roads cutting off the main road to the right. As for salmon fishing, the best is provided by the chinook run in August and September, followed by the coho and chum salmon. Thanksgiving usually marks the peak of the run for the chum salmon.
Sea-run Cutthroating is fair here, but remember all wild cutt’s must be released. Make sure to check all rules and regulations, as they might change from year to year.
Troy and Scott Barrows fishing the “Skoke” with a limit of Kings, August 2012. In 2012 the Skokomish was open for a total of 24 days to chinook fish in the month of August only. After that it was open from Sept.16 through Dec.15. Daily bag limit of 6, which up to 4 may be adults. Release chinook. Release chum from Sept. 16 through Oct. 15. Anglers should consult the Fishing in Washington, Sports Fishing Rules pamphlet for other specific regulations.
Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat, Large Mouth Bass
Every spring the lakes gets a plant of 6,000 legal-sized rainbows and a few very large cutthroat.In a April of 2012 they planted 170 14″-16″ rainbows as part of the triploid program.
Southwest of Allyn, in Mason County
Take Highway 3 north from Shelton or south from Belfair and turn west on Mason Lake County Park Road. Turn left on East Benson Road and almost immediately turn right into the public access area on the lake.
The gravel access area on the east side of the lake has a gravel boat launch.There is also room for about 6 bank anglers. The WDFW access has a boat launch and two toilets.
Internal combustion engines are prohibited by county ordinance.
This 80 acre lake just east of Mason Lake drops off steeply from the bank and both sides of the lake providing bank anglers a good opportunity to catch trout. Sometimes there are so many bank anglers it is tough to use the boat launch. Typical trout fishing methods would apply, with bass fishermen using crankbaits working the docks.