The remainder of the summer is shaping up well for KP fishing enthusiasts, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officer Jeff Summit, who lives and works on the Key Peninsula and is an avid local fisherman.
“I would say it’s forecast to be an above-average year, with people really excited about what is to come. People are already catching fish down here, and it’s fairly early to be catching fish in the places we’re talking about,” Summit said.
Although there are several public access beaches available for fishing on the KP, Summit recommends heading out onto water for best results.
“You can catch some salmon from the beaches, but for the summer, the main thing is going to be going out from the boat launches and looking for the chinook and maybe even the coho as well,” Summit said. “We’re talking places like Vaughn Bay, the boat launch on 72nd Street, launching out of Home or any of the public access launches––even the Purdy Spit could be pretty good this summer.”
According to Summit, fishing in KP lakes and streams is possible, but doesn’t present the same opportunities as marine fishing.
“If you want to go for warm-water species, perch, some of the bluegill, you can go to Bay Lake, Jackson Lake, Horseshoe Lake,” Summit said, adding that summer isn’t ideal for smaller-scale lake fishing. “In these hot months, the trout kind of shut down,” he said.
Summit said the most popular fishing target for the year is the chinook––the king salmon.
Summit said the chinook availability should last through September, but August should be the “main push” of the fishery.
The marine waters of the Key Peninsula are a part of Marine Area 13, a district that encompasses the waters of the Puget Sound south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. According to Summit, the Key Peninsula and surrounding waters are mostly fished by local anglers, who know the area well. For visitors to the area, he recommends keeping expectations realistic.
“It’s not going to be like ocean fishing; it’s not going to be like Neah Bay where the fish are just off the hook biting. You have to put some time into it and you can catch some fish,” he said.
Summit noted that regulations and catch limits in Area 13 are some of the most favorable in the state, and that “if you can find two chinook down here, you can keep them.” Chinook from Area 13 can weigh anywhere from 6 to 25 pounds, and catches from 11 to 15 pounds are common. This year’s return could be over three times as big as last year’s chinook return to the South Sound.
Summit encourages visitors and veterans to do their research before they begin, and to be familiar with regulations and rule updates.
“I would emphasize that they have to use barbless hooks, they need to immediately record their catch on the catch record card, and just stay within the limits when they actually get into good fishing,” Summit said.
For the 2018 season, anglers have a daily limit of two chinook, although limits sometimes change during the season. Coho salmon will also become available later in the year and Minter Creek will open for coho this year for the first time in decades.
Related activities such as shellfish hunting and crabbing are also subject to regulations that change during the season, although crabbing season is closed this year (“Crabbing Season is Closed in South Sound,” KP News, July 2018).
The Sportfishing Pamphlet and Emergency Rule Updates can be found at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, www.wdfw.wa.gov.