Boat Basin Fall
Net Pens Raise Coho Intended for a Release / Fishery Back in Boat Basin : In the Westport Washington boat basin, there are net pens that Coho salmon are raised each year. These pens were started in 1975, are operated by the Port Of Grays Harbor and by students from Ocosta High School. The 200,000 fry are supplied by the WDFW hatchery at Bingham Creek each year, raised in net pens off float 4, then are released as fingerlings in this boat basin. When they return 2 or 3 years later, this provides a fishery for many who fish off the docks or shore inside the boat basin, creating another draw to the community of Westport after the main ocean salmon season is over.
The town of Westport usually runs a Boat Basin Derby from September 15 thru October 31 each year. As of the year 2011, no entry fee is required and prizes are donated by the merchants.
As of 2011 the liberal limit was "Min. size 12". Daily limit of 6. No more than 4 adults may be retained. Release wild Chinook. Night closure and anti-snagging rule. Only single point barbless hooks may be used.".
Fishing here can be as laid back as you make it. These Coho will band together and travel around the basin in small schools of 4 or 5 to up to a dozen, as they retuned to their "home stream" to spawn but which really has no spawning gravel. They just seem to cruise around between the floats, making pass after pass. The net pens where they were raised is on the north end of the basin, so that is where more of a concentration of these returning fish concentrate. Someone once told me of seeing them trying to spawn at a stormwater outlet in the basin after a rain.
Most charter boat fishermen will be off the docks by this time of the year which will be somewhat deserted in comparison to the hectic summer days. Some of these fisherpersons will stand on the dock ramps or the shore waiting to see a few fish swim by and then cast lures trying to intercept them. Polaroid glasses may be of a benefit here. In certain places you may be able to stand on the rocky shore then cast toward more open water between the dock fingers. When a school of fish comes by, AND the water is calm, you may see ripples and a decent swell of water being pushed by them as they will usually be right under the surface. You will probably not see much of them other than the white of their insides of the gill covers unless you are standing above them on the dock approach ramps.
You will note I said CALM water. This is critical
so you can see them, otherwise you will be casting your arm off in vacant
water. Ideally you need dead calm water. My experience is if
the wind is coming from the West, SW or NW, the water is a lot calmer than
if it is coming from an easterly direction.
Do not be surprised if one or two of the school of fish may dart toward your lure only to look at it and then to veer off in disinterest, kind of like a kitten chasing a leaf. If this is the case you may want to change your lure to a different color, different action, or do a slight jerking action with the rod tip, anything to entice a strike as these fish are not really in the feeding mode at this point.
You can see fisherpersons standing on the docks, dock ramps, even shore. One problem is if you are on a approach ramp, you have only 2 chances to intercept them, (1) COMING TOWARD YOU and (2) GOING AWAY FROM YOU. If they don't bite, you missed your chance.
One observation, is like in the LH photo below at the NW end of the boat basin in front of the now vacant Islander restaurant (2018). Here the fish coming north or west run into the end and tend to mill around a bit before they line our along the shore, giving you more of a chance at them. They don't seem to have a preference which rotational direction they go either.
The tide timing may make a difference as most seem to prefer the high tide, however at times it does not seem to make any difference on this fishery. So just be there and put in your time.
|These fishermen even erected some protection from the rain & with chairs for comfort||Here another fisherman is working his lure to intercept some cruising Coho|
Some fishermen even use a small boat and row it around inside the basin.
|A lone fisherman braving the elements on windy & chilly October morning 2008||One of the fishermen working the basin on the misty morning of 10-08-2010|
The one good thing if you are on the north end of the basin is that there is a coffee / do-nut shop not far and across the street (but they can be seasonal) and or only open in the mornings. Also next door to this do-nut shop is Bennett's Fish Shack restaurant.
Every fisherperson may have their own ideas as to lures. My thoughts are you may not be too successful if you think of freshwater lures here. These are still saltwater fish. Initially the method was to fish a anchovy under a bobber. But if you watch, the fish ducks will be filling themselves with anchovy, meaning your single bait is in competition with a lot more naturals.
I have tried spinners and Wriggle Warts that I have had success with in the rivers. Others may use 3/8 or 1/2 oz lead-head jigs with a hoochie skirt, but success is minimal.
I watched a couple of young men do phenomenal using a 1/8oz lead at the terminal end of the mainline, and 3' leader to basically steelhead yarn balls. Maybe even cured eggs ast to then would be a good idea.
From this observation, maybe these boat basin salt water fish were spooked by the larger flashy lures that I was casting. However in parts of the Sound, they are caught on Buzz Bombs and spinners casting off the beach.
Methods of fishing for these fish can be (1) casting a Metric or Blue Fox 7/8 oz. spinner with a small lime green or red hoochie. (2) casting a 2 oz. kidney sinker 2' ahead of a small plastic halibut/ling cod flutter tail lure which the the head has been cut as if it was a cut plug and attached to the front hook of a mooching rig. (3) some will use a Wriggle Wart. (4) Using a live anchovy under a float. (5) Some will use a lime green glo squid and just enough of a egg sinker in the head to allow them to cast. (6) even a gob of eggs fished shallow under a bobber may do the trick.
Your line / leader should be heavier than you would think, as these fish will tend to head for the docks when hooked and try to tangle your line in the piling, breaking you off. Therefore this takes you out of the steelhead class gear even though the fish may only weigh in at 8# up to near 20#. The suggested rod needs to be say an 7 to 8 1/2' medium heavy rod but a somewhat sensitive tip. Reels will depend on your ability to cast as to whether it will be a casting or spinning reel. Casting distance may only be 50 or 60'. But the line should probably be at LEAST 20# test monofilament, however the regulars have now switched over to 30 or 40# braid even for spinning outfits.
Many times there are a lot of jacks returning, those who target them may use a small bit of egg roe under a bobber and fish shallow. Some just cast to toward those that they can see, however one resident expert says he seems to catch just as many by just casting all the time. These fish will not be deep so only 2' to 3' deep should be your intended fishing range.
Here, single point barbless hooks are required, (why I have no clue). Having a landing net close by is also a good idea here since gaffs are illegal. This might be the place for one of the newer collapsible landing nets carried in your backpack.
Most of the fishing goes on on the northern end of the basin as there are some storm drains there that have a bit of cooler water. However there are fish caught anywhere in the basin.
Since this is a laid back fishery, mornings are less crowded. And it seems that by late afternoon the fish have been harassed by both fishermen and the seals so they tend to be a bit more skitterish later in the day.
This is also a chance to throw a crab pot/ring in while you are fishing.
There is always the chance for you to offer your intended catch as a meal for the seals. If you hook a fish use the heavier line and do not play your fish, reel it in FAST because of this. However these furry creatures tend to sleep in until about noonish, so if you beat them on the water your odds are upped a tad. And IF you do catch any fish do not leave them lay unattended on the dock.
These fish tend to disappear after about the middle of November and no one has taken the time to find out if they just die or move up Elk River.
As of 2011 the new weigh in is located at the Seafood Connection on float 8 from 10AM to 5PM.
Times have changed and information is sketchy, It used to be a month long derby, but 2017 shrunk to a 2 day derby where registration and weigh ins was at the Seafood Connection, Float 8 Slip G between the hours of 10am and 5pm.
As of 2018 no info is available.
This derby here has changed for 2011, & I have not obtained the rules as of yet, but for the records see below
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The excerpt below was taken off the old Angler Charters website prior to 2011
In the last few years Angler Charters is the official weigh-in location. CLICK HERE FOR LINK