By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby is runs Saturday through Monday, and one portion of the 500 square miles of fishable water was hit with a decrease.
Starting this week, anglers in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) can only keep one blackmouth per day, rather than the two that can be retained in the derby’s other areas, 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 7 (San Juan Islands).
“We’ve counted more fish so far this season than were counted at the same point in previous years,” Ryan Lothrop, fish biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said in a news release.
“After reviewing the catch estimates, it was clear we needed to take action to control the fishery’s impacts on stocks of concern.”
While this decrease is a stumbling block, it isn’t a huge blow to the derby, according to Dan Tatum, president of the derby host Gardiner Salmon Derby Association.
“Not that bad of news for the derby as they could have shut it down,” Tatum wrote in an email.
“Only about 10 percent of our fish come from Area 9.”
However, the decrease is tough news for Port Townsend.
“I haven’t even seen that many people go out fishing,” Eric Elliott of The Fishin’ Hole (360-385-7031) in Port Townsend said.
“It’s a bummer, especially right before the derby.”
It seems reports on the other side of Area 9, Edmonds, has had better blackmouth reports, so that could be the reason for the limit decrease.
Elliott said he is still selling tickets, so anglers might not be too turned off by the new limit.
“What everyone’s watching is the weather,” Elliott said.
Cross your fingers. If the wind doesn’t slow down, the weather could be a detriment to the derby.
The limit decrease in Area 9 could factor into the strategy of the derby. Some gambling anglers might opt to fish in Admiralty Inlet because there might be less competition for the larger blackmouth.
Remember, only hatchery blackmouth, those specifically marked with a clipped adipose fin, may be retained.
Interestingly, though, released wild blackmouth are counted toward the management guideline of 1,842 encounters because some do not survive.
More derby prizes
The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby prize list continues to grow.
As of Wednesday, there are 52 prices for a total of $22,633.
Tickets for the derby can be purchased at many area merchants through Friday. Online registration ended Wednesday.
Tickets for the derby cost $40, and they’re good for one day or all three days.
Tickets also will be available at the five launch ramps (Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner and Port Townsend Boat Haven), but only Saturday.
The next hunter education course in Forks will begin Monday, March 3, at the West End Sportsmen’s Club.
The course will be held March 3, 5, 10 and 12 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The final test is Saturday, March 15 at 9 a.m.
The course teaches firearms safety, wildlife conservation and sportsmanship.
Students must attend all classes for the opportunity to receive a hunter education student certificate.
Washington law requires first-time hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972, to successfully complete a hunter education class in order to purchase a hunting license.
The course is taught by volunteer instructors who have been certified by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct student courses.
The hunter education program is open to all levels of experience. Most students who successfully complete this course are 10 years or older.
A parent or guardian is required to attend the first night of class with their student and are encouraged to attend all classes. Students younger than 10 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian must accompany to all classes.
Pre-register online at www.wdfw.wa.gov. Follow prompts to Hunter Education, Traditional Class, Registration.
For more information, phone Randy Mesenbrink at 360-374-5718.
Sports Editor Lee Horton’s outdoors column appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.