Grays Harbor Westport
While most of the fishing that takes place near Washingtons coastal town of Westport is an ocean game, there is another fishery that happens in the fall that can produce some trophy king salmon.
Known affectionately to anglers who fish the place as Johns River, it's located east of Westport Marine Area 2.2, off the mouth of the Johns River in Grays Harbor. The place should be called the bay of pigs, as thats what your going to catch here in fact it's one of this state's last trophy fisheries where you have a chance of nailing a king over 40 pounds.
Why does this tidal area produce such big fish? The Humptulips, Satsop, and Wynoochee rivers all empty into Grays Harbor and they're all known big fish rivers.
Grays Harbor is the transition zone from salt to fresh water for these salmon heading to the rivers.
Large herring are the ticket here, not the Puget Sound size green label, but what we use is purple or black label to score on these fishyes the same size ones you use for halibut.
The normal Johns River setup is a 3 to 6-oz. ball sinker on a 12-inch dropper to a 4-ft. Ande mono leader with 5/0-6/0 hooks. The leader and dropper are mated together to a ball bearing swivel to make the connection.
If I need more attraction then the big herring I will use a Big Als Fish Flash. These pyramid shaped flashers give a great flash in the water and have zero drag in the water. Theyre hard to find in Westport, so stock up before the fishery opens in September.
For a rods, I use a G. Loomis SAR1265C and SAR1084C and a reel with a smooth drag that holds plenty of good 20-25 pound Ande line. Remember these fish cant sound so they can produce some burning long runs and a cheap reel just wont cut it here.
The tide is the key factor when fishing here. Tide change is when these fish bite. Sometime just before or after the tide change is when the bite takes place. The rest of the day can be long and slow, with little action happening. This is a quality fishery so dont expect to limit, but it can happen.
Last year during this fishery I would take my charters out over the Westport bar and fish the 12-16 pound coho in the ocean and then run in for the tide change and fish for slabs. The only problem with this plan is getting the clients to leave the coho fishing!
The season here opens Sept 1st, however most of the best fishing is the middle of September to the middle of October. Check the WDFW regulations for current limits and closures.
Salmon University Staff