LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Seals scaring fish on Calawah River

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

WITH THE RAIN Port Angeles has received this week, I expected the West End rivers to be too high for good steelhead fishing.

“No, they’re fine,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks told me.

“It rained, but not hard. In fact, we probably could use a little more.”

I guess I don’t have the rivers figured out as much as I thought I did.

Even better news for anglers is the weekend weather should be clear, so the steelhead fishing should be solid.

And despite the slow season thus far, there are fish in the rivers.

“They are catching fish,” Gooding said of the anglers putting time in on the West End rivers.

“Not tons and acres of them, but they are catching fish.”

The Calawah River, though, does have an obstacle: a couple of seals.

“They just spook the fish and eat them,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said the seals might have traveled far enough up the river to be near the hatchery.

I understand that these seals are bad news for anglers, but I enjoy the image in my head of these seals happily playing in the river, splashing water at each other and occasionally eating a steelhead.

In my head, there is also a beach ball involved in the seals’ good time.

Salmon fishing

Blackmouth fishing on the Strait of Juan de Fuca has been off and on lately, which has kind of been the story of the winter salmon fishery.

Part of the problem has been the wind keeping anglers off the water.

Menkal said many anglers are delaying their hatchery blackmouth fishing until the 2013 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby. (You can read more about the derby in Thursday’s column, which you can find here: http://tinyurl.com/DerbyColumn.)

“People are starting to get interested in that derby,” Menkal said. “It’s a real happening thing.”

Aunspach said last Sunday was good for blackmouth. Good enough that all four slots on the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s monthly derby ladder at Swain’s were finally filled.

With just a few hours left before January became February, Lyle Newell was still in first place with an 11-pound, 6-ounce salmon and Willy McClure remained in second with a 10-pound, 8-ounce blackmouth.

The bottom two slots have been filled by Rick Felkin with a 9-pound, 6-ounce catch and Curt Madison with a 7-pound, 11-ounce fish.

Salmon fishing in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) has been fairly solid since it opened two weeks ago.

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist said the best reports are coming from the other side of the area.

“Blackmouth fishing just off the beach at Bush Point has been pretty good for anglers trolling along the ledge at 120 feet,” he said

“Launching at Port Townsend and running across to Keystone, then trolling along that 120-foot depth ledge toward Bush Point would be a fine strategy.”

Another opening

Hood Canal opens for salmon fishing today.

It was only closed for a month, but welcome back anyway, I suppose.

Norden has an idea of how to fish the Canal this weekend.

“Mooching with bait or trolling with a Coho Killer Spoon around Black Point in front of Pleasant Harbor is a great place to test those waters for that opening,” Norden said.

As with the other open areas on the North Olympic Peninsula — Marine Area 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) — only hatchery blackmouth may be retained.

The size minimum is 22 inches and the daily limit is two salmon.

Looking ahead, the Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) will open Saturday, Feb. 16.

Lake fishing tip

Norden reports that Lake Leland has been ice-free for more than a week and warmer weather should make for some nice catches.

“In recent years, some of the nicest sized and best eating trout of the year are caught in February as the surface temperature of the lake eases back into the 40s,” Norden said.

“Most of the trout are caught by still-fishing with bait or slow-trolling a whole nightcrawler; 16- to 18-inch trout are fairly common.”

Winter sports

Hurricane Ridge has been receiving new snow this week, but it looks like it should subside just in time for the weekend.

Barring a change in the weather forecast, skiing, snowboarding and tubing should be solid this weekend.

Fly fishers meeting

The Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers will have a bit of an unusual program on Monday night put on by club member Rosemary Deane, who has taken a number of trips to Africa on the Zambezi River.

Deane will talk about fishing for tiger fish in the Zambezi and will show some photographs she took of wildlife and scenery.

Coop Cooper will give the fly-tying demonstration.

The meeting begins Monday at 7 p.m. at the Campfire USA Clubhouse at 619 E. 4th St. in Port Angeles.

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 31. 2013 6:02PM
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