Some notes on Puget Sound blackmouth/chinook
It looks like this years salmon season in Puget Sound is going to better than last. I have seen a lot of bait in the water and for the first time, I saw schools of candlefish at the beach.
I fished the Narrows this past weekend, July 3,4 & 5. As many of you know, I fish my poppers almost exclusively. On Saturday, I fished it on a 6wt. Sage 9' SP. I had 10 blackmouth come up and take down the popper. I say take down because I have found that blackmouth do not take the popper the same as coho or searuns. They do not rush the cripple from behind nor do they slash at it or are they willing to chase it down. In fact, you never know they're on it, they simply tip up from behind, like a trout on a trico. Consequently, my strip is not the same as what I might do for coho. I let the tide swing my fly very slowly. I even make small uptide mends. I had one fish suck it down and when I didn't feel it's weight, I held up on the set. He rolled on it three times before he hooked himself.
Now here's the sad part. I wasn't able to get the metal into the jaw with the 6wt. It didn't have the backbone to do a heavy strip set. The next day, I came out with my 8'8" 8wt Scott Arc. Interestingly, I had forgotten that I had entered into my journal a few years back that this was a problem (it just goes to show you that not only should you keep a journal, you should read it). The first fish, I flat out missed in a backeddy. I hooked and landed the second fish that came. It was a 4-5 pound shaker. Now here's the sad part. There were far fewer fish Sunday than the day before and the next day, I only boiled two fish.
I don't know what kind of strip to make down deep that will excite chinook but I'm fairly certain that a very slow twitched retrieve on a popper (a true crippled baitfish) is the ticket on the surface.