LEE HORTON'S OUTDOORS: Cold weather slows fishing

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

THE NORTH OLYMPIC Peninsula is running out of diversions.

The fishing hasn't been great and Hurricane Ridge hasn't received enough snow.

What are anglers and skiers supposed to do?

“Well, last weekend they were all watching football,” Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

The Seahawks won the Super Bowl and Seattle held a parade.

Now what?

Unfortunately, it has been

“Fishing has been nonexistent with the cold weather and wind,” Aunspach said.

“Saltwater fishing has shut down.

“Hatchery steelhead is pretty much over, so [anglers] are [mostly] waiting for the wild steelhead opening.”

Starting Sunday, Feb. 16, anglers can keep one wild steelhead for the year on one of the following rivers: the Quillayute, Dickey, Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Hoh, Clearwater or Quinault rivers. These are the only rivers in the state where wild steelhead may be retained.

But remember, only one per year.

Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said retaining wild steelhead isn't the draw — it's the challenge of catching them — and he doesn't think anglers are necessarily waiting around for the date when retaining a native steelhead becomes legal.

Menkal and Aunspach both recommend anglers take advantage of this cold down time by getting their gear organized and ready for better fishing conditions.

Blackmouth faring fairly

The saltwater salmon fishery is doing well for those with big, heated boats.

“Blackmouthing is picking up near Sequim and I'm hearing good things about PT,” Menkal said.

He said some anglers caught three 13-pound blackmouth during a recent trip.

Off Protection Island has been the best spot near Sequim.

Not many anglers are dropping their lines off Port Townsend, but those that are seem to be having success.

As Aunspach said, there isn't much saltwater fishing happening off Port Angeles.

Once the cold snap ends, though, he expects anglers to get back to it.

Too cold for lake fishing

Lake Leland, last winter's fishing hot spot, hasn't been as productive this year.

Now, the cold has rendered it unfishable.

“Not much doing at the lake this week and it is already starting to freeze over,” Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist in Quilcene, said.

“If the weatherman is right, the lake should not have enough open water to fish until next Tuesday.”

More snow needed

Hurricane Ridge received a nice snowfall last weekend, but is still 5 inches short of the 36-inch minimum needed before the ski and snowboard area can open.

The good news is that the Ridge is forecasted to receive more snow this weekend.

With a little luck, there could be a Presidents Day weekend opening. Predicting that is probably a stretch, though.

Clam season closed

Sport clam season will be closed this year at Point Whitney Tidelands, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week.

Surveys show that the clam population on this small beach has decreased enough to require the year-long closure.

Meanwhile, the Point Whitney Lagoon, which is located behind the cyclone fence, remains open for clamming through March 15.

Puget Sound Anglers

The East Jefferson Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

The guest speaker will be Ken Pinnell, owner of the Q-Cove Breakaway Flasher products in Marysville

The meeting will be held in the Port Commissioners Office on Benedict St. in Port Townsend, across the street from the south end of the Alladin Motel and at the top of the boat ramp.

Refreshments will be provided and the public is invited, with plenty of parking at the top of the boat ramp.

Derby tickets

Tickets for the North Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby can be purchased at many area merchants through Friday, Feb. 14, or online through Wednesday at www.GardinerSalmonDerby.org (these tickets can be picked up at a launch ramp of your choosing).

Tickets for the derby cost $40 for one day or all three days ($42.50 online).

Tickets also will be available at the five launch ramps, but only Saturday, Feb. 15.

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's outdoors column appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 06. 2014 6:34PM
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