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Patience is key for Chinook

Tyler Spencer (left) and his dad James Traughber of Grants Pass spent last  Thursday whacking Chinook salmon out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Tyler Spencer (left) and his dad James Traughber of Grants Pass spent last Thursday whacking Chinook salmon out of the Port of Brookings Harbor. The Pilot/Larry Ellis
Last week, gusty northwest winds and wind waves up to 8 feet continued to wreak havoc with salmon anglers fishing out of the Port of Brookings, but that didn’t stop antsy anglers from tripping the king fantastic, with some days producing several limits of Chinook.

The further one ventured out to sea, the higher the wind waves became. Those who fished within a mile from shore experienced only 1- to 2- foot wind waves.

As the week progressed, winds started abating and wind waves started diminishing as well, and with decreasing wind, ideal salmon water temperatures started luring anglers to troll their favorite setup in the hopes of getting at least one savage take-down from a wily Chinook.

As of this writing, the National Weather Service is calling for diminishing wind and wind waves through next week, and that scenario should be setting anglers up for another possible light’s-out salmon bite.

Meanwhile, the action out of Eureka has continued to be quite robust, with anglers limiting out on kings daily. That prompted local-area fishing enthusiasts to trailer their boats down to the Samoa boat ramp out of Humboldt Bay to cash in on the non-stop salmon action.

Gary Blasi from Full Throttle Sportfishing in Eureka reported double-, triple- and quadruple- hookups on many of his recent trips. Blasi’s been soaking his anchovies in Pautzke clear- or chartreuse-colored Fire Brine the night before his trips.

Crescent City has also been experiencing more of their great salmon action that occurred two weeks previously, enticing several anglers to pull their boats down to C City to get in on the spectacular fishing.

The great thing about this year’s salmon fishing is that all three ports — Eureka, Crescent City and Brookings — have had lots of baitfish and krill hanging tight to shore, so anglers have not had to venture much further out to sea than all three ports’ whistle buoys, which are about 1 1/4 miles from shore.

When krill has been thick, salmon have been gorging themselves on the mini-crustaceans. Because of the aforementioned scenario, a lot of the salmon have been light biters. So if salmon are nibbling on your anchovies, yet you are not getting hooked up, wait a little bit longer before giving your anchovy up as being a goner.

I’ve had my rod trip get whacked several times, and swore that my bait must have been gone. But after keeping the setup in the water for as long as a minute, the rod doubled over and tripped from the downrigger. If you have a salmon interested in your anchovy, it will often stay interested until the bait is gone. An anchovy that’s been half eaten and continues to appear to swim away is very enticing to a salmon. You must exercise patience when a krill bite is going down.

Another thing that often happens during a krill bite is that your line will often trip from the downrigger and appear to just go slack. During this time, the salmon is trying to turn the bait around in its mouth.

So what I often do in these instances is carefully take my rod out of its holder and put the reel into free spool (make sure the clicker is off). It’s a real kick in the pants to feel a salmon swimming away with your anchovy. After it’s had the bait for 5 seconds or so, reel down to take up the slack and prepare to cross the salmon’s eyes.

Trolling speed cannot be over-emphasized. Chinook like their baits trolled very, very slowly — like 1.2 knots, give or take a fraction.

Anglers are still catching lots of coho (silvers). Some of them are approaching 8 pounds. Remember that you can only keep adipose fin-clipped coho.

Also, make sure to bring lots of bait. About two trays per person is not asking too much when there is a wide-open silver bite going on. Keep your bait ice cold until it’s ready to put on the hook. A warm baitfish starts rapidly growing bacteria, and because of a salmon’s keen sense of smell, it is often offended by the bait’s odor before it ever gets a chance to see it. But if all I have left is one warm stinky anchovy — I’m gonna use the sucker.

Tight lines!

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