LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: Blackmouth fishing on the upswing

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

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THE BLACKMOUTH FISHERY isn’t only a Port Angeles party any more.

Sequim has shown up fashionably late.

“Blackmouth has turned on really good outside Protection Island,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

“It’s probably the best it’s ever been.”

This is a bit of a surprise after the waters near Sequim have been, as Menkal said, “absolutely dead all season.”

Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) was only recently invited to the blackmouth party (the season opened last week), and so far is off to a nice start.

“Salmon fishing is pretty good in the eastern side [of Area 9] — Possession Bar and Bush Point — if you use the right techniques,” Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said in an email.

“All the blackmouth are gorging on candlefish, that oily baitfish that lives on or in the sand, plus these predators are ignoring the herring.

“The anglers are ‘dredging the bottom’ with their down-rigger balls and running plugs deep.

“Other candlefish imitations such as Coho Killer Spoons or needlefish-style trolling squids will also work well, but it is harder to keep them from hanging up on the bottom, unlike plugs such as Silver Hordes or Pogues that float.”

Norden added that deep trolling is a common tactic for this time of year, and sometimes anglers must drop their gear down 150 to 200 feet to find success.

Another technique to try is jigging.

“When the blackmouth are feasting on candlefish in the Port Townsend area, the other popular method to get them is with larger-sized Point Wilson Dart jigs (4-6 ounces) jigged right on the bottom to imitate those candlefish,” Norden said.

“If you do want to try jigging, any of the non-stretching braided lines like Power Pro, dacron and several others really make this fishing easier and more effective.

“In the PT area, this jigging has to be done on slack tides, of course.”

Blackmouth in the harbor

All that being said, Port Angeles is still the top spot on the North Olympic Peninsula for saltwater salmon fishing.

“The [Port Angeles] Harbor is still the best place,” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

This is the case, even though tides are set up to be best for outside-the-harbor fishing.

“Why go outside the harbor when you’re catching so much in here?” Aunspach said.

Aunspach said that if the water outside the harbor calms down, most anglers will probably venture out.

Steelhead update

Some wild steelhead fishery are being caught, then released, on the West End rivers.

Only one wild steelhead can be retained each year, but only between Feb. 16 and April 15.

The paltry hatchery steelhead run is likely over, but some anglers might get lucky.

Aunspach said an angler he talked to actually had some nice success catching hatchery steelies in February last year.

Another river to try for hatchery steelhead is the Dungeness River.

Menkal reports a few are still being caught there. It’s important to note that the river will close to fishing next Friday, Jan. 31.

Razor clam digs

Yep, another razor clam dig is on the slate, pending marine toxin tests showing the clams are safe to eat, of course.

Here are the proposed dates, evening low tides and participating beaches:

■ Tuesday: 4:36 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors.

■ Wednesday: 5:25 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Twin Harbors and Long Beach.

■ Thursday: 6:11 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks.

■ Friday, Jan. 31: 6:55 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks.

■ Saturday, Feb. 1: 7:38 p.m.; -1.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks and Copalis.

■ Sunday, Feb. 2: 8:20 p.m.; -0.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks.

Whereas January was packed with razor clam digs, this is scheduled to be the only February digging until the end of the month.

Speaking of clams . . .

Here is a fun story a reader named Maureen emailed me:

“When my son was about 4 years old, his grandfather gave him a clam gun to play with. (My pioneering family never utilized them because the clams are easily broken),” Maureen wrote.

“I took him down to the beach, where there are no clams, and showed him how it was used. He asked me then if it would work on moles!”

Puget Sound Anglers

The North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers will hold its annual fund-raising auction and dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday, February 22, at SunLand Golf and Country Club.

The proceeds from this auction provide the majority of funding for the annual Olympic Peninsula Kids Fishing Program held every summer at the Sequim water reclamation pond, Carry Blake Park.

Further details of the event will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information about the Puget Sound Anglers, see www.psanopc.org.

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: January 26. 2014 2:21PM
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