Reading all the reports on the internet forums about Westport had me salivating from the mouth, enough so that I needed to take some time off and spend with my dad. What better way to do so then fishing on a glorious day. The plan was to leave Seattle by 8 pm to make the 130 mile run, set up camp in the back of the truck in the parking lot, and be ready to roll at first light. Since this was dads’ first time to Westport and my second I needed a refresher on crossing the bar which was very easy due to the lower tidal exchange, nice weather, and calm winds, something that I guess is a rarity for Westport in early June. My plan was to head north and fish somewhere in 50-90′ of water as that seemed to be where all the action was the week prior and many anglers getting limits just south of the bay near the green can. We started marking fish and bait at 50′ but it wasn’t enough to slow down, drop the downrigger balls and start our troll. I wanted to motor out a little deeper, but that would be more of a dodgeball circuit with all the commercial crab floats that littered the fishing grounds. There were already two charter boats working the waters in 50′ and a host of other chaser boats following the charters’ lead. I however didn’t want to get caught up with the mass exodus, but liked the solitude of having some space to work around while we got used to the ‘new to me’ boat.
I asked dad to drive while I set up the gear, and told him to be careful and not come too close to the buoys, almost as soon as I said that it was too late as we ran across one on port side with the rope stretching to the starboard. We had only been at it for less than 5 minutes and our first learning encounter. After untangling the mess and getting back into position I considered ourselves lucky as we didn’t lose any gear as a result and was going slow enough and cut the power. Soon after, we started picking up shakers as I was releasing one the other rod would start dancing. I had to set one rod down in the boat while I re-clipped and sent the opposite rod down and then out of the corner of my eye the rod that WAS in the boat was lunging onto the gunnel and heading into the water! I gasped and thought we caught another crab pot ropeline, but as I lifted the rod it pulsed and it was no rope but a fish that had been teased up with the flasher and the spoon that was fluttering like a wounded baitfish. I’d seen this behavior before with Coho, but never with a King, but nonetheless after a short battle our first legal fish came to hand! We were excited since most of the radio chatter sounded like it was pretty much slow otherwise for the rest of the northern fleet.
I played with depth, different colors, and speeds but once we hit 80-90′ feet of water around 7 am, the magic happened. Our rods would just explode and these Kings would unclip themselves and peel off line from the mooching single action reels as they dove down trying to escape the clutches of our spinning wrists as we tried to catch up to their attempts to flee. One by one we picked off our legal fish and released some other fine natives. It was surreal since mostly we were alone apart from two guys in a Northriver that were mooching herring, and two in a red Duckworth that were probably wondering ‘what the heck are they using’ and scratching their heads. I think mostly it was the speed, I like to troll a little faster, even for Kings and in my experience, they like the ambush whether it be small Coho Killers or the 4″ Cookies and Creme spoon that I was using. We wrapped up just before 9 with our last fish and decided that we’d had enough fun, and agreed that we should explore a bit of Westport because I’d never seen it in the daylight and since the weather was so nice it would be a good chance to get some photos.
I don’t know what it is with fishing with my dad, but I swear that he is the lucky charm when it comes to hooking King Salmon. Every year since I’ve owned a saltwater boat, whenever went out, we’d hook Kings! I’d try to duplicate this with my friends, but many times we’d come up empty handed and frustrated. Its been kind of an annual tradition that dad and I fish together around Father’s Day and or July 1st, but this trip was an exceptional one and I’d have to thank my friend Lance A. for helping me out with tips and suggestions along with Trent and Chasin’ Tail from Gamefishin.com who were generous with information to help some Westport newbies. If it wasn’t for them, we’d probably be coming home empty handed and no salmon for our Sunday family dinner. I can’t wait to dig into this stuff, it filleted out great and can’t believe how much meat came off those chunky shouldered fish. I’ll be daydreaming about when I can return, but thankful that I was able to spend some time with my old man.