It’s a crisp morning at Skyline Marina as we hop aboard Jolly Mon Charters in Anacortes.
As the boat motors its way through the breakwater and into Burrows Pass, the clouds part to reveal a light blue sky. The three of us, my husband and I, and Captain Chris, all agree; today is a great day to go fishing.
At around 25 knots, we cruise past mist-covered Lopez Island. Along its rocky shores, cormorants dry their wings and sea gulls scour the surf. As we approach San Juan Island, we notice splashing in the water. It’s a sea lion wrestling a halibut for breakfast. Dazzled by the display we linger, and when the sea lion swims off with his meal, we cruise to Eagle Point on the south end of the island.
Captain Chris slows the boat and moves into action. He prepares the downriggers with barbless hooks and 15 pound balls to get the gear down deep. Then he sets the boat on autopilot. It doesn’t take long for the first fish to bite, and the tug of war begins. My husband reels him in, and then the fish gains momentum, pulling away. It goes back and forth until finally the fish – a silver salmon – is in our net. We have to release it, due to a recent regulation. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and more are sure to bite.
As the morning advances more charter fishing boats arrive and I notice Captain Chris watching them. “If other boats are catching fish and you’re not,” he said. “That means you need to change your gear to entice the fish.” So far, our lures are working. We check the boat’s depth sounders, searching for flecks on the screen that indicate schools of fish swimming in the depths below the boat. We spot a few. The wait ensues.
A Side Job Turned Full Time Business
Eight years ago, Captain Chris started Jolly Mon Charters as a side job. After retiring as a Naval Officer, it quickly became a full-time business. Now, he spends his days on the water, taking guests out to fish in his 25’ North River Seahawk. With a Suzuki 225 HP engine it can get up to speeds of 50 mph, but it mostly cruises at an enjoyable leisurely pace. The boat fits up to six passengers and is enclosed to help keep fingers and toes warm during inclement weather. It also has a bathroom with a privacy screen, XM/Sirus radio, and outlets to charge cell phones so you can always snap those prize catch photos. And, if you want to add another activity into your fishing charter, such as lunch in Roche Harbor, Captain Chris will customize your experience.
How to Catch the Fishing Fever on Fidalgo Island
With the abundant waters of Puget Sound, there is no lack of fishing charter options in Anacortes. Charters run year-round, and some of the top catches are halibut, lingcod, salmon, prawns, and crab. Fishing charters on Fidalgo Island include R&R Charters, Highliner Charters, Catchmore Charters, StoutFish Charters, and Jolly Mon Charters, and all boats are covered and heated. They provide one-day fishing licenses, include all fishing gear, and clean your fish so it is ready to take home. Visit their websites for rates and more information. If you want to extend your island getaway, check with local hotels like the Majestic Inn & Spa and Swinomish Casino & Lodge for they often offer seasonal packages with fishing excursions.
by Lara Dunning