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Peninsula Daily News
EVERYTHING IS SET up for Neah Bay and LaPush to have an excellent next few days.
Not only are halibut (Saturday only) and chinook (today and Saturday) open for fishing, but popular fisheries throughout the rest of the North Olympic Peninsula are in recess this weekend.
In Marine Areas 6 (Port Angeles, Sequim) and 9 (Port Townsend, Admiralty Inlet), the halibut fishery is unfortunately closed this week, but will be back in business starting Thursday.
Recreational spot shrimp harvest is also closed in the popular Hood Canal and Discovery Bay shrimp districts.
Both districts reopen Wednesday, and will also be open Saturday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 22.
Marine Area 9 was only scheduled to have two days — unless quota remains — and those days have come and gone.
Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles reports that shrimping at Disco Bay was “fantastic” for those who dropped pots there.
Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said that even the normally crazy ramp scene at Hood Canal went smoothly for last week’s opener.
“Everybody I know got a limit of shrimp in Hood Canal if they had their pots deep enough — 250-feet plus — and all those I know did,” Norden said.
“The anglers at the Quilcene launch were particularly skillful this year, since I only saw one that took more than two tries to get his boat out of the water.
“I was impressed and disappointed.”
These closures and the halibut opener and uncommon chinook opportunity make the north coast the place to be.
“I was out at Neah Bay [Wednesday] afternoon, and the place is already jammed,” Norden said.
“Plenty of excitement about the halibut, but I don’t know if anglers have keyed onto the chinook.
“The leading edge of the Columbia river summer chinook migration is there now, and that run will peak next weekend. So, there are some beauties to be caught if you fish tight to the kelp at dawn, just west of Waadah Island.”
Fishing in Neah Bay and LaPush isn’t limited to halibut and salmon.
Joey Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay said most anglers are catching their limits of lingcod.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca still has fishing opportunities, just not halibut.
The lingcod fishery opened to not much fanfare May 1, and remains open seven days a week through June 15.
Aunspach said that most anglers were too entranced by halibut to go for lingcod last week, but a few did have some success near Whiskey Creek.
The Marine Area 6 sport spot shrimp harvest is also in season near Port Angeles and Sequim, so the break from halibut fishing might be the perfect excuse to drop some pots.
Last week was all about the halibut on the Strait.
“There were a lot of really big fish taken,” Aunspach said.
At Swain’s, a couple of 150-pound uglies were weighed and found their way onto the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s monthly derby ladder, which is devoted to halibut during the month of May.
After the first weekend, here is what the ladder looks like:
■ First place: Jeff Reynolds, 150 pounds.
■ Second place: Wayne Opdye, 150 pounds.
■ Third place: Derek Madison, 88 pounds.
■ Fourth Place: Mark Reynolds, 86 pounds.
Aunspach said a 105-pounder and a 98-pounder were also weighed at Swain’s, having been caught by anglers without derby tickets.
The exact figure isn’t known, but Wentworth Lake was stocked with trout earlier this week.
Peninsula Daily News freelance photographer Lonnie Archibald was on the scene, and reports that a combination of state Fish and Wildlife employees, Pacific Coast Salmon Coalition and Forks High School volunteers teamed to move fish left over from kids fishing day at the state’s Bogachiel Rearing Pond to Wentworth.
The trout plant at Lake Leland that was mentioned in last Friday’s column is official.
Over a two-day period, April 30-May 1, the state stocked Leland with 6,002 rainbow trout.
With everything else happening on the Peninsula, these new fish will likely get a lot bigger before being caught.
“Lake Leland has become very quiet,” Norden said.
“It did get its big plant, and you can see the catchables dimpling the surface all over, but I have only seen a couple boats this week and a just a couple bank and pier anglers.
“This is actually good, since more of those catchable rainbows will grow over the summer in this food-rich lake.”
What might be the final razor clam digs of the season are happening through Tuesday at Twin Harbors and Long Beach.
A pair of other beaches — Copalis and Mocrocks — have closed for the season due to harvest guidelines at those beaches being met.
Here are the dates, low tide information, and beaches for the digs, which were approved by the state after marine toxin tests showed the clams to be are safe to eat:
■ Friday: 7:37 a.m., -0.9 feet — Twin Harbors and Long Beach.
■ Saturday: 8:12 a.m., -0.8 feet — Twin Harbors and Long Beach.
■ Sunday: 8:48 a.m., -0.7 feet — Twin Harbors.
■ Monday: 9:23 a.m., -0.5 feet — Twin Harbors.
■ Tuesday: 10:01 a.m., -0.2 feet — Twin Harbors.
Kids fishing day
The North Olympic Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers, in coordination with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Sequim Public Works Department, will hold a kids fishing day in Sequim on Saturday, May 18.
The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sequim water reclamation pond and demonstration park, located just north of Carrie Blake Park on Blake Avenue.
The fishing is free for kids 14 years and younger, and the pond has been stocked with 1,500 trout — some weighing as much as five pounds.
There also will be a special pool for toddlers that contains a separate stock of trout.
Participants can bring their own pole and bait or borrow a rod from the club’s stock.
Kids also can learn how to clean fish by watching club members clean and ice the fish they catch.
As an added bonus, the pond will be stocked with another 1,000 fish during the weeks following the kids fishing day, so kids can fish throughout the summer.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.