LEE HORTON'S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Park closes Hoh River fishing

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

IF YOU'LL ALLOW me to take a break from talking halibut, there is news to share regarding the Hoh River.

The Hoh opens to salmon fishing today, joining the Sol Duc and Quillayute as fishable rivers for spring chinook.

Well, to be more specific, only a portion of the Hoh is opening to salmon fishing.

Within Olympic National Park, the Hoh will be closed to recreational fishing, effective immediately, through Aug. 31.

The closure, which the park announced this week, was enacted in an effort to protect the wild chinook population that has been declining in recent years.

Only the waters of the Hoh within the park — which is about 56 percent of the river — are closed.

This includes the upper portion of the Hoh, the south fork, all tributaries and the Hoh River mouth within the park.

The upper Hoh will be closed through October 31.

The closure isn't a big surprise, and it shouldn't impact river fishing too much.

“It's not a big deal. You can't keep them, anyway,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

Meanwhile, much of the remainder of the Hoh opens to hatchery salmon fishing today, including from the park boundary to Willoughby Creek. (Willoughby Creek opens Saturday, June 1.)

The daily limit is six salmon, with a minimum size of 12 inches.

Only one adult chinook may be retained.

Sol Duc springers

Recently, most anglers have been hitting the Pacific Ocean or the Strait of Juan de Fuca to catch some halibut.

It's understandable. The halibut fishery is fleeting, especially this year when the days to fish the big uglies has been reduced in some areas of the North Olympic Peninsula.

But anglers who have ventured to the West End rivers — mainly the Sol Duc — have been treated to some good salmon fishing.

The weather has conspired to create good conditions — not too sunny and warm, not too wet.

“You don't want too much of anything,” Gooding said.

“The nice weather is nice, but it ain't the best for fishing.”

The forecast for the next few days looks like more stop-and-start rain, so the springer fishing should remain a productive use of your time.

Halibut

Of course, why fish the rivers during halibut season?

The fishery gets back underway today in Marine Areas 3 (LaPush), 4 (Neah Bay), 6 (Eastern Strait) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

This is the first week all of those areas will be open. Two weeks ago, only Marine Areas 6 and 9 were open, and only the coastal areas were open last week.

It is conceivable that more open areas will curtail the pressure in each area, as options are no longer limited.

Gooding said the uptick in visitors lacked subtlety last weekend.

“People go absolutely nuts for halibut,” he said.

“You would be amazed by how many millions of dollars [worth] of boats came through here.

“It dropped my jaw. I thought, 'Your pickup is worth more than my house.'”

Marine Areas 3 and 4 are open for halibut fishing today and Saturday. Anglers can also fish salmon Friday and Saturday in the coastal areas.

The Marine Areas 6 and 9 halibut fisheries are open today through Saturday.

It is important that you make note of the words “and” and “through,” or else you might get arrested.

The Sekiu halibut season doesn't open until next Thursday, May 23.

________



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: May 16. 2013 12:04PM
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