Grays Harbor, Washington
Grays Harbor/John’s River – Westport
Known affectionately to anglers who fish the place as Johns River, its located east of Westport Marine Area 2.2 East, just off the mouth of the Johns River in Grays Harbor.
Why does this tidal area produce such big fish? The Humptulips, Satsop, and Wynoochee rivers all empty into Grays Harbor and they’re all known big fish rivers. Grays Harbor is the transition zone from salt to fresh water for these salmon heading to these rivers.
This is a tide water fishery, meaning leave your downriggers at home, you’re fishing in water that runs 10-30 ft. deep. Most of the fish caught here are in 15 ft of water or less, many times 8-10 feet.
Large cutplug herring is the ticket here, not the Puget Sound size green label, use the purple or black label to score on these fish; the same size ones you use for halibut. The normal fishing setup is a 3 to 6-oz. ball sinker on a 6-12 inch dropper to a 2-4 foot mono leader with 5/0-6/0 octopus hooks. The leader and dropper are mated together to a ball bearing swivel to make the connection.
Sometimes a little more attraction then the big herring is needed so use a Big Als Fish Flash. These pyramid shaped flashers give a great flash in the water and have zero drag in the water.
For rods standard mooching rod and a reel equip with a smooth drag that holds plenty line will work fine.
Most of the fishing takes place in front of the John’s River where it empties into Grays Harbor. There a trough located here where a lot of fish are taken. The bay is pretty featureless so any depression or ledge is worth a look and can hold fish. There is also good fishing on the North Channel back towards the 32nd street ramp.
The tide is the key factor to producing fish here. Tide change is when these fish bite. Sometime just before or after the tide change is when the bite takes place. The rest of the day can be long and slow, with little action happening. This is a quality fishery so don’t expect to limit, but it can happen.
The season here opens normally on 1 Oct. Check the WDFW regulations for current limits and closures. The chinook fishery can change year to year for openings and daily bag limits. The fishing can remain good into November depending on the needing schedule and the amount of rain the rivers receive.
There is a boat ramp on the John’s River that is fine for smaller then 18 ft boats or jet sleds. It’s located just past the Ocean Spray Company on the highway to Westport. For larger boats, use the ramp in Westport near the Coast Guard Station, it’s a short run back east to the John’s River.
Pay attention to shipping traffic transiting to Aberdeen and back to the ocean. Stay in the channel especially when running east from Westport. Use the channel markers; there are many sandbars that can ground your boat in this area.