LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: Those pesky pinks invading area

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

PINK SALMON ARE wired different than chinook and coho.

They only come around every other year — every odd year these odd fish come around — and when they do so, they make their presence known.

It’s akin to an invasion.

Pinks, also called humpies due to the prominent hump males develop in front of their dorsal fin as they enter the spawning phase, might best be compared to an annoying little cousin who lives in a different state.

He doesn’t visit often, but when he does, the little pipsqueak specializes in getting in the way.

That’s kind of how the saltwater salmon season is playing out this year.

Many anglers are having success reeling in kings and silvers on the northern coast of the Pacific Ocean and Strait of Juan de Fuca on through Admiralty Inlet.

But to catch those fish, anglers are having to work around those hungry pink punks.

As I wrote in Thursday’s column, the number of humpies caught skyrocketed last weekend in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s creel reports for the ramps of Port Angeles and Sekiu.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said the pinks might have advanced their invasion eastward.

“I think now it’s thinning out,” Aunspach told me Thursday morning.

“It has been so thick that it’s tough to get the kings.”

Although they are a bit of a hindrance, pinks aren’t worthless.

“They’re really nice eating fish,” Aunspach said.

So, anglers aren’t tossing pinks back in the water every time they bring one up.

In fact, the humpies don’t necessarily count as part of a daily salmon catch limit, as most marine areas allow for two additional pinks to be caught in addition to the two-per-day salmon catch limit.

If you reel in a keeper, though, quickly clean it or put it on ice.

“You have to go prepared, or they’ll go soft on you real quick,” Aunspach said, “and you’ll have a big mush pile when you get back [to land] four hours later.”

Kings of PA

Like I said earlier, the pinks haven’t halted the fishing for chinook and coho.

“It’s been really good lately,” Aunspach said of the chinook fishing off Port Angeles.

“It’s been tough weather-wise, but a lot of really nice fish are being caught.”

He added that not many coho are being caught near Port Angeles.

There hasn’t been much movement at the top of the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s monthly salmon derby at Swain’s.

Dave Rice of Port Angeles is still in first place with a 32.13-pound king.

Mike Jones, also of Port Angeles, is still second with a 23.15-pounder, and Ryan Clark remains in third place with a 22.12-pound salmon.

A new name occupies the fourth and final slot: Nick Eshom, who caught a 22.06-pounder.

Silver and pink in Sekiu

Sekiu’s results have been a little different than those of Port Angeles.

“Overall, [salmon fishing] has been pretty good,” Derrick Hutson of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu said.

“The kings have been slow, but pinks and silvers are doing well.”

Crabby news

Crabbing, which opened July 1, is slow around Port Angeles.

But both Aunspach and Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim report that Sequim’s crab harvest has been much better.

So, fish for salmon off Port Angeles, and go to Sequim for crab.

Those Dungeness crab are so delicious; make sure you find some time to catch some.

Speaking of that, Dungeness crab is one of 20 finalists for American’s 10 most iconic foods at 10Best.com.

To vote, got to www.tinyurl.com/VoteForCrab.

You can vote once per day. Voting ends Monday.

Tuna, squid, catfish and bass

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said the Pacific Ocean has finally cooled off the coast of Washington, sending the albacore farther from the shore.

“A 60- to 70-mile boatride may be required now,” Norden said.

“The good news is that the upwelling currents are starting a new plankton bloom that will dramatically increase next year’s coho and humpy returns.”

Norden passed along a few other reports:

■ Squid — “They are swarming in Discovery Bay, and I am sure the same is true for the harbor in Port Angeles.”

■ Catfish — “The bite is on at the lakes that have catfish and allow bait to be used.

“This includes Leland, Sandy Shore, Ludlow and a few others, but the only ones with significant bank access are Leland and Sandy Shore, where you can set out the lawn chairs and fish in the evening.”

■ Largemouth bass — “We are now in summer patterns at all of our local bass lakes.

“Each lake has a different pattern which is sometimes very early, sometimes right at sunset, and sometimes at night in midsummer.

“This is one of the many things that make bass interesting to pursue. No, I won’t reveal which lake is which; that would spoil the fun.”

Norden would like to hear a report on bass fishing at Lake Ozette.

He said you don’t even have to reveal what was used at what time of day.

If you have a Lake Ozette bass report, email me at the address at the bottom of this column.

Shellfish closure

The state Department of Health has closed Port Townsend Bay, Kilisut Harbor and Mystery Bay beaches to recreational shellfish harvest due to the detection of high concentrations of marine biotoxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.

The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. It does not apply to shrimp.

Crab meat is not known to contain the biotoxin, but the guts (butter) can contain unsafe levels. So, to be safe, clean crab thoroughly and discard the guts.

Fly fishing class

Menkal is teaching part one of his introduction to fly fishing class this Tuesday (July 23) from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with part two taking place the following Tuesday (July 30) at the same time.

Cost for the class is $25. Bring a notepad, pen or pencil and a chair.

Class attendance is limited to 12 participants.

To reserve a spot or for more formation, phone Menkal at 360-683-1950.

The classes are held at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More at 609 W. Washington St. in Sequim.

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.


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: July 26. 2013 11:53AM
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