LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: Neah Bay still open to chinook fishing; Sol Duc reopened

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News outdoors columnist

MOST OF THE fishing news lately has been about fishery closures and daily limit decreases.

Well, this week we have a reopening, although it’s kind of like being invited to the cool-kid party after all the cool kids have gone home.

But before that, let’s talk about why I should get out of the prediction business.

Recently, I have received important updates from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announcing closures or changes in the daily limit restrictions late in the afternoon, right before deadline.

So, last week I tried to stay a step ahead.

I did some research and wrote in Friday’s column, “It appears the Neah Bay chinook fishery will be closed down soon, because by this past Sunday, Marine Area 4 had harvested 4 percent more than its chinook quota.”

Within hours of the Peninsula Daily News arriving on doorsteps throughout the North Olympic Peninsula, I received a few friendly corrections, including a phone message from the Cape Resort (360-645-2250) in Neah Bay.

Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) hadn’t surpassed its quota, I was told, it had surpassed its guideline.

Which makes total sense.

There is a small difference between the two. A guideline is like a suggestion, while a quota is more binding.

Additionally, the fisheries of the Pacific Ocean and those on the Strait of Juan de Fuca are different animals.

Nearly a week later, Neah Bay remains open to chinook fishing, albeit at a reduced limit of one per day. So, obviously, my prediction was incorrect.

However, my confusion grew when I looked through the state’s sport fishing rules booklet, and for the portion of Marine Area 4 it reads, “Season may close earlier if sub-quota of 7,780 hatchery coho or 4,900 chinook guideline is attained.”

For Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet), which closed to chinook fishing about four weeks early, the rule books says, “Season may close earlier if chinook guideline is attained.”

I doubt my prediction was incorrect, and that Neah Bay, as well as LaPush (Marine Area 3), will not close to chinook fishing until the scheduled date of Sept. 22.

My correctors probably have been around long enough to know more about these matters than I do, and I appreciate them for setting me straight.

My point is that the regulations are nearly impossible to fully understand, so I’m relieving myself of some of the blame.

But, going forward, I will not make closure predictions unless they are supported by precedent that has occurred on my watch.

So, go fish Neah Bay and LaPush. They’re among the few places on the Peninsula where you still can catch kings. The other is Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal), south of Ayock Point.

Sol Duc open again

The Sol Duc River has reopened to fishing.

If you’ll recall, the state closed the river to all fishing “from the Sol Duc Hatchery outfall creek upstream to the concrete pump station in early July.”

The reason was the spring and summer chinook returns were far below egg take needs.

Well, the Sol Duc Hatchery has achieved the needed brood stock for the two runs of chinook.

The reopening went into effect on Sunday.

The only problem: There isn’t enough water in the Sol Duc for good fishing.

The same goes for the other West End rivers, other than the Hoh.

“They’re super low and clear,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said of the West End rivers.

It’s that time of year.

“There’s not much water,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said. “Like, none.

“The Hoh is the best bet because it is the only one you can get a boat down.

“Not that I’m complaining about the sunshine. I’ll never do that.”

Now, there was some rain last week, but not enough to positively impact the water levels.

“It didn’t really do anything. That wasn’t really even rain,” Gooding said.

There are fish in the rivers, but the low and clear conditions are too much of a detriment.

“There’s fish around, but they can see everything on earth,” Gooding said.

“You can’t hide.”

When the rain does come, so will the fish.

Until then, Forks will soak up the sunshine.

“Don’t worry, it will go away,” Gooding said.

“We’re enjoying it while we can.”


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: August 21. 2013 6:32PM
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