Featured Outdoor Activities

Do it all in the San Juan Islands

By Kevin Klein

Vicki Klein limits.
Vicki Klein limits.

Cast, blast, and pull time is on right now in the Islands. Well, maybe not cast, so much as troll, for Coho.
But the blast, as in deer hunting and pull, as in pulling crab pots is spot on…unless you’ve got an archery tag…and I’m sure you could catch a Coho casting…but, I digress.
Let’s just say that October, especially with some nice fall weather, is a pretty great time to be in the San Juan’s. Deer hunt in the early morning, jump in the boat and drop off the crab traps, and then go fish for salmon. Pull those pots on the way back in, and get ready for a feast. Then get ready to watch the Seahawks WIN on Sunday…oh, right.
Well, anyway, the combination of venison, fresh salmon, and crab make for a great weekend.
Vicki Klein with a limit of hatchery Coho. There still aren’t a large amount of Silvers here, and the grade is definitely smaller. That’s been the case everywhere this year. The size may be so poor due to ocean conditions, and the warm water blob parked of the coast.
Kevin Klein with "crabbies."
Kevin Klein with “crabbies.”

The King salmon didn’t seem so effected. Columbia river Fall chinook numbers continue to climb this year. The specific reasons for low numbers of Coho returning so far are anybody’s guess, while there is the possibility that more fish will continue to show up. Forecasting these runs is a lot like forecasting the weather, impossible much more than a week out. One thing is for sure, large numbers of humans correlate to smaller numbers of fish, all over the planet. And that trend doesn’t seem likely to reverse.
deckHowever, crabbing has been pretty darn good. Finding a spot that hasn’t had a lot of commercial pressure is key. I save all the heads and carcasses from the fish we catch for crab bait. Nothing goes to waste. Hanging the bait high inside the pots seems to help. I think it keeps the crab interested and occupied, so they spend less time trying to escape. I use big containers and bait heavy as well.
Three crabs for two people make a pretty good meal. The rest of a limit we freeze. I like to remove all the meat from the crab and put it in zip lock bags, leaving it moist. Then I’ll vacuum seal the entire sealed zip lock, giving the crab an extra encasing. It’s great to be able to pull out some crab anytime, for an appetizer treat, or crab cakes.
Lots of seiners worked the west side of San Juan last weekend. Here you can see the encircling net, and the “purse” about to be closed.purseiner