Our "Humpy" Salmon Fishing Adventure
Well, this year is Humpy year and we decided that we would try our luck and see what we could do about catching a few of those salmon. The Humpy (or Humpback, or Pink) salmon makes its spawning run up into the rivers from the ocean every two years, but only on the odd numbered years. And 2005 is an odd numbered year. Unlike the king salmon that matures in 2 to 7 years, the Humpies call it quits after two years and decide to head back up into the rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest to create another generation, and then they die. Because they only feed in the ocean (Gulf of Alaska and Aleutian Islands) for two years, they do not get nearly as big as the King salmon and are not prized nearly as much by fishermen who generally seem to be looking for that really big fish. But, at 4 to 5 pounds, the Humpy serves up a nice meal and provides some real sporting fun.
We made some early preparations for our adventure by first going up to the vacant lot that Dave's mom has at Lagoon Point on Whidbey Island and doing some brush clearing. This is the lot next to the cabin that Dave's father had constructed in the 50s (which is no longer there), but had been overgrown with blackberry bushes and thick brush. We whacked the stuff down during two days in July, and cleared enough of the lot to where we thought the motor home could be parked comfortably. Then in August, when the Humpies usually make their appearance, we took the motor home and Boston Whaler boat to the lot and spent two weekends at Lagoon Point, where good fishing is usually available.
We also did some research to find out just what kind of fishing gear is now used for catching Humpies. The last time Dave had fished for them was over 20 years ago when he used to go out with his Dad. At that time they trolled using live herring that trailed a dodger (a large flasher). But, times have changed since then and we found that herring is not used as much anymore, instead a small plastic pink squid, known as the Humpy Killer, is now used (see the hookup in the picture below). In fact, they say that almost anything that is pink in color should attract the fish. Diana had the Humpy Killer on her line which was anchored with a Deep Diver, a gizmo that is attached onto the line 4 to 5 feet above the flasher. This takes the tackle down quickly without putting a lead sinker on the line. Dave experimented with all kinds of things: used various kinds of lures (some pink and some not), tried it with and without a dodger, and tried either the Deep Diver or 4 ounces of lead weight. Guess who caught, by far, the most salmon!?
Well, the research we did paid off. During the two weekends, the boat caught a total of 15 salmon. On one trip out, Dave's mom went with us and we caught 4 salmon in less than an hour, and we lost about as many. That is pretty good fishing! These days, you are supposed to use barb-less hooks, so therefore you cannot use light tackle and play the fish like you used to do in the old days. Now, you have to keep tight tension on the line as you keep reeling in, or you loose the fish.
To say the least, we had a good time; the weather was terrific, the salmon were biting, and we caught enough to put in the freezer for some future meals!