South Sound Skiffs is extremely excited to announce that we are leasing a Washington state salmon charter license! What does this mean exactly? Well, it’s like this…. Up until this point we have been a game fish guide service. We’ve had a game fish license, which allows us to target sea run cutthroat. We love cutthroat and feel that they are an incredibly unique fish found in an incredibly unique setting. There are few things we’d rather do than target these amazing fish. However, there are many other fish that share the same waters as the cutthroat, most notably salmon. In order for us to target salmon in the same waters the state requires either the purchase, or lease, of a Washington state salmon charter license. These licenses are not easy to come by, as the state stopped issuing them many years ago. The only way to obtain a license is to purchase one from somebody who owns one, or lease one from an owner. Because of the difficulty in obtaining such a license, and the expense involved, some sea run cutthroat guides here in Puget Sound do not target salmon.
The issue that can come into play is the fact that while targeting sea run cutthroat, most notably in the south sound where SSS generally operates, salmon encounters are common. In the south sound they are, quite honestly, extremely common. Coho, in particular, are of such large populations that they are nearly impossible to avoid. We have spent the last year trying our best to avoid these fish during our guided trips, but the fact of the matter is that it is nearly impossible to target sea run cutthroat in the waters we fish without encountering many coho, and to a lesser degree chinook. Now it is perfectly acceptable and legal to target sea run cutthroat with a game fish license, and simply release any unintended coho, but Bart and I decided that we didn’t want to go this route. Quite frankly we want to target salmon! The resident coho are an amazing fly rod target and we got tired of moving AWAY from large schools of them. We absolutely want to target these fish. We also do not want to be in a situation where we are having many salmon encounters without having the proper license. Even though we were not targeting these fish, we were certainly catching them often enough that we decided we just needed to find a license. We want to operate within the letter of the law, and do not want to be in that grey area of targeting cutthroat but still catching salmon.
So with all that said, we found a great lease situation with a buddy of ours and are leasing this license. Starting March 12th, 2018, we will be offering fly fishing trips for salmon, as well as sea run cutthroat. This is going to open a whole new world of possibilities for us, and we are extremely excited. We’ll be able to target resident coho as well as resident chinook (blackmouth) in the south sound all winter/spring and into the summer. Then in the summer time when the migratory fish start returning to Puget Sound we’ll be able to target them throughout the entirety of the Puget Sound. Returning coho, chinook, chum, and pink salmon (On odd years) are fantastic fly rod targets and we are extremely excited to be able to introduce these fish into our program.
This salmon license is a big change for us, and we are still very early in the process of getting everything squared away. Fairly big changes will be coming to the website to account for this change, including new trip offerings and rates. We will also be changing the scope of our blog to include much more information about fly fishing for salmon, including gear, techniques, flies, seasonal timing etc.
Fly fishing for salmon is my absolute favorite thing to do, and I know Bart is every bit as into it as I am, so we are both extremely excited for these changes. To the best of our knowledge we will be the ONLY guide service on the south sound to be exclusively fly fishing for salmon and we really look forward to sharing some fantastic days chasing these fish with you very soon! N.C.