The North Sound fishery called “the Bubble” is the best, closest and easiest-access chinook fishery available. This fishery can produce some nice fish at times, be is very unpredictable.
Your choice of technique should be heavily influenced by your location in the “Bubble”
Tulalip bay can be broken down into an inshore/bottom oriented fishery and an offshore/suspended fishery. Inshore across the bay and on Mission Bar you’ll see jiggers, moochers and sinker/diver trollers all taking fish. Outside however, downriggers dominate the scene. Sure, you’ll see the occasional moocher or jigger out there but day in & day out it is very difficult to compete with a good ‘rigger man.
So, where does the inside fishery end and the outside fishery begin? For the sake of argument I would put the line at the 100-foot mark. This 100-foot demarcation is somewhat arbitrary but holds up in the light of technique-related depth limitations.
While the outside fishery is where many fishermen who work hard at it. Outside fishermen will find their best success using Pro-Troll Hot-Spot flasher gear (40-60″ leaders) rigged with Silver Horde Kingfisher spoons, and squids. Silver Horde plugs are a good bet outside as well as whole herring.
So, what gives you the edge over all of the other outside trollers? Easy, fish at the right depth.
Correct depth is using your sounder and put your gear at the same depth as the fish
While we are targeting suspended (hovering off the bottom) fish in the outside fishery, once you come inside the focus shifts to kings hugging the bottom. Even though it is possible to troll the bottom closely with downriggers, the accuracy and effectiveness of bouncing a Pt Wilson Dart on the bottom works better.
High tides, particularly in the morning will pull kings into the bay. This is a great time to be trolling inside. If you mark a pile of bait, kings or both then it’s time to pull out the jig rods and drop the darts on their heads.
Once the tide starts to ebb and the sun rises in the sky, the kings have two good reasons to get off the flats, loss of depth/cover and increased light level. Anticipate the kings desire to bail out of the bay and get to the edges of the bar and intercept them as they flee to the deep water.
Low tides virtually dry up Tulalip Bay as well as Mission Bar. When this occurs during midday it’s time to move outside and start trolling. The edge of the bar is just too shallow and bright to hold kings in the mood to bite. So, look for chinook suspended in the deeper water