Salmon fishing is best in years, boat captain says

With more than 2.5 million chinook and coho bound for the Columbia River, the summer fishing has been very good in the ocean waters off Westport and Ilwaco.

Chuck Custer, owner and captain of the charter boat Freedom, said the fishing out of Westport is the best it has been in the past four or five years.

For much of the summer, anglers have been averaging more than a salmon per person, according to creel samples done by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“I think the best way to show how great fishing is this season is to compare the average salmon catch per person between years,” Wendy Beeghley of the department’s ocean sampling program said on July 16. “So far in the all-species fishery, we haven’t seen the catch per angler in a week drop below 1.4, out of a possible 2.0. That’s pretty awesome.”

While the action has slowed some in the last week or so, Mark Cedargreen is hoping it will continue for another two months.

“We want to see the season going all the way through September. That means getting the chinook through August,” said the president of the Westport Charter Boat Association. “By the third week of August, most of the chinook have made their way to the Columbia and the fishing switches over to coho.”