LEE HORTON'S OUTDOORS: Wind, tides slowing blackmouth fishing

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

THE BLACKMOUTH FISHERY is off to a cold start.

Conditions have been rough since the season opened Sunday, so not only are anglers not catching blackmouth, many aren't even venturing out.

“The tides aren't right and there's been wind,” Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

“It has been quiet so far.”

Aunspach said a few boats finally started hitting the water Wednesday, and some anglers had bites around Freshwater Bay.

The daily limit is two blackmouth. Wild chinook must be released.

Steelhead taking their time

Hatchery steelhead are showing up on the West End rivers, but not as many as are expected this time of year.

“They're a little overdue,” Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

“We're on the verge of a major run coming.”

Aunspach said fish are being caught on the West End, but the cold weather isn't helping.

“They're put off the bite by the cold,” he said.

“They're swimming into the colder rivers from the warmer saltwater. They get real sluggish.”

A little more rain and some warmer temperatures should get things started.

“Within the next two weeks, we'll be in the thick of it,” Aunspach said.

Then again, fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist Ward Norden of Quilcene said the steelhead fishing could be a struggle throughout the next few months.

This expectation has become even more dismal with the recent lack of results from anglers beach casting for steelhead at Bush and Lagoon points on Whidbey Island.

“I am expecting a poor steelhead season this winter due to the ocean conditions 18 months ago when the young fish went to sea,” Norden said.

“But that being said, there still should have been more than this by now even, if they are late.

“Over the last 30-plus years, I have observed that those beaches have been a fair to good indicator of winter steelhead fishing prospects on coastal rivers coastwide, from the Siuslaw River in Oregon all the way to central B.C.

“Let's just hope this year the Whidbey Island beaches are wrong and/or the run is simply quite late, like a lot of the fall coho were.”

Crabbing can be good

Sometimes the crab harvest is good, other times it isn't.

“It has been off and on,” Aunspach said.

Crabbing is better than it has been off Port Angeles.

Aunspach said some crabbers are doing well wading for crab near Hollywood Beach at night when there are minus tides.

Menkal reports that near Sequim, many are employing the drop-and-dash technique.

“They drop their pots and then come back in where its warm,” he said.

Deception Pass Dash

Slap the word “extreme” in front of just about anything, and odds are high that my generation will fall for it.

Paddle Deception Pass on a Sunday morning in December? That doesn't sound like much fun.

Extreme paddle Deception Pass this Sunday morning? We're in.

Outdoor Adventure Center is hosting the 8th annual Deception Pass Dash, a 6-mile kayak race through the swirling waters of Deception Pass between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands, this Sunday at 7 a.m.

The event is open to kayakers and paddlers of human-powered craft (surf skis, paddle boards, stand up paddlers) who are confident in their rough-water paddling abilities.

These paddlers will have only a short time of slack water to “dash through the Pass” before its currents create an obstacle course of waves and whirlpools.

For more information on the Deception Pass Dash, contact Bill or Blair Corson and info@OutdoorAdventureCenter.com or 425-883-9039, or visit www.tinyurl.com/pdnPassDash.

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.

________

Sports Editor Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 05. 2013 10:59PM
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