LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Another slow week on Strait

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

BLACKMOUTH FISHING ON the Strait of Juan de Fuca is at a standstill right now.

“It’s as quiet as can be for fish catching,” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

“There’s lot of bait out in the water [around Port Angeles], but no fish.”

Aunspach said he went fishing earlier this week, but his boat only hooked one blackmouth and it was too small to keep.

“We fished it hard,” he said.

“We put way more time into it than we should have. We kept thinking something would happen.”

Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) is no longer the only area to fish for salmon on the North Olympic Peninsula, as Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) opened this week.

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said it could be a nice fishery for those brave (or crazy) souls who venture out in the cold.

“I expect excellent blackmouth [fishing], with bigger-than-usual fish,” he said.

“When I took the ferry across to Edmonds at sunrise [Wednesday], I saw not a solitary boat, even though it was calm conditions. Too cold for even the most hardy I would think.

“It wasn’t any warmer [in Port Townsend].”

If you’re craving some time on the water, the next few days could be good.

“Weather looks really good to fish Midchannel Bank this weekend, or even slow troll a herring right outside the breakwater in front of the Port Townsend marina along the bottom in 60-80 feet of water,” Norden said.

“Glow with green or White Lightening Coho Killer spoons are already producing well up in the San Juan Islands, so they should do equally well at Midchannel.”

The daily limit in Marine Area 9 is two chinook, with a minimum size of 22 inches.

Right place, right time

As this column mentioned yesterday, the West End rivers are low and clear.

That makes the fishing hatchery steelhead difficult, but not impossible.

If you’re in the right place, you could catch multiple fish.

“You have to find little pockets,” Aunspach said.

“They’re hiding in the whitewater, places you normally wouldn’t fish but you have to because it is [the fishes’] only cover.”

Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim recommends the Bogachiel and Sol Duc rivers and said using lighter tackle and smaller gear is best for catching steelhead on the low and clear waters.

Menkal has also heard about seals being spotted far up the Calawah River, which can hamper sport fishing.

Tubin’ at the Ridge

The Hurricane Ridge ski and snowboard area has had a few good weekends of opening “every day and on schedule,” according to Frank Crippen, owner of North by Northwest Surf Co. (360-452-5144) in Port Angeles and president of the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club.

The Ridge now has its tube run open.

Tube tickets cost $10 for two hours or $8 for an hour.

It is a walk-up run with no lift.

Also, you have to use the tubes provided by the Ridge, so don’t bring your own.

“It got crowded last weekend, so come early or late for the most runs,” Crippen said.

This sounds awesome.

Peninsula derby

The annual Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby will take place Presidents Day Weekend (Feb. 16-18.)

First prize is $10,000. Currently, there are a total of 22 prizes that add up to $17, 995.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More in Sequim; Four Corners Store, Fish N Hole and Westside Marine in Port Townsend; Olympic Equipment Rental (formerly Just Ask Rentals) in Port Hadlock; Longhouse Market and Deli in Blyn; and Swain’s General Store in Port Angeles.

You can also buy tickets online at www.tinyurl.com/SalmonDerbyTix. Online tickets cost $42.50.

More digs

More razor clam digs have been approved for next weekend by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Here are the dates, evening low tides and participating beaches:

■ Friday, Jan. 25: 5:44 p.m., +0.0 feet — Twin Harbors and Long Beach.

■ Saturday, Jan. 26: 6:18 p.m., -0.2 feet — Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.

■ Sunday, Jan. 27: 6:50 p.m., -0.2 feet — Twin Harbors and Long Beach.

Coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres said the best digging happens one to two hours prior to low tide. No digging will be allowed before noon.

Also, plan on cold weather and darkness.

“Digger success was high, but it was darn cold out there on the beaches [during the week-long opening earlier this month],” Ayres said in a press release.

“I strongly recommend dressing for the weather and taking a lantern or powerful flashlight for visibility.”

Send photos, stories

Have a photograph, a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique?

Send it to sports@peninsuladailynews.com or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 17. 2013 5:52PM
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