LEE HORTON'S OUTDOORS: Halibut seasons shortened again
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Joe Munn fishes through the ice at Lake Leland. Munn caught three trout fishing from the dock through a hole in the ice.

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

THE DATES FOR the upcoming halibut season have been circulating throughout the North Olympic Peninsula.

I hate to break your heart, but it appears this will not be the year the state Department of Fish and Wildlife gives anglers more halibut days than the previous year.

The Peninsula's waters will again receive less days this halibut season, but the decrease isn't as bad as it was in 2013.

Here are the planned openings:

■ Marine Areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet):

Friday and Saturday, May 9-10; Saturday, May 17; Thursday through Sunday, May 22-25; Thursday through Saturday, May 29-31; and Saturday, June 7.

That is a total of 11 days, down from 12 days in 2013.

The May 22-25 opening is Memorial Day weekend, but like last year the fishery will not be open Memorial Day.

■ Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay):

Thursday and Saturday, May 15 and 17, and Thursday and Saturday, May 22 and 24. If quota remains, the northern coast also will open Thursday, June 5, and/or Saturday, June 7.

That adds up to four days, with the possibility of six days. Last year, the northern coast was given a similar opening.

■ Marine Area 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point):

Thursday through Sunday, May 22-25; Thursday through Saturday, May 29-31; and Saturday, June 7.

Area 5 receives eight halibut fishing days, the same amount as last year.

Rivers rising

The West End rivers have received a lot of rain this. Too much rain, in fact.

Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said the rivers “really blew out,” Wednesday.

While this is terrible news for the weekend, he added that it should bring more wild steelhead into the rivers. This should make for some good fishing once the rivers drop back down to a fishable level.

Remember, beginning Sunday, anglers can keep their one steelhead for the year, but only on the following rivers: the Quillayute, Dickey, Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Hoh, Clearwater or Quinault rivers.

Derby this weekend

The Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby is Saturday through Monday.

It still looks like the weather will be a factor.

“Lots of rain and lots of wind,” Menkal said. “Bring your rain gear and your wind gear.”

The blackmouth being bottom-dwellers means the wind will limit anglers to trolling at the derby.

Hurricane Ridge opening

After weeks of waiting, Hurricane Ridge finally has enough snow for the ski and snowboard area to open.

The rope tows and tubing area will both be open Saturday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. See Page A1 of today's edition for more information.

The Ridge has received more than 10 inches of snow this week, and more snow is in the forecast.

The potential downside of that is the snow also falls on the road up to Hurricane Ridge.

For updated road information, phone 360-565-3131. You also can check online at www.tinyurl.com/pdnRidgeRoad or on Twitter at @HRWinterAccess.

Leland thawing

I received an email from Joe Munn, who lives at Lake Leland.

“Thought you might be interested to know that fishing at Leland is great,” he wrote

“I caught three nice trout ice fishing this weekend; largest one was 16 inches and almost weighed 2 pounds.

“Don't know if anyone has ever ice-fished Lake Leland before.”

Munn also sent a photo of him on the ice last week, sitting on a chair with his line in the water.

It makes me nervous even looking at the photo because the ice doesn't look thick enough.

“It was thin ice for sure, but strong enough,” Munn wrote after I expressed my concern.

“Stressed my wife out taking the picture. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.”

“The three fish I caught were from the dock with a hole in the ice.”

It turns out, he was only on the ice for the photo opportunity.

Munn said he used power eggs made by Power Bait.

“Rainbows just can't refuse them,” he said.

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said the Leland has thawed.

“In the next two weeks, barring a huge cold snap, I expect a dramatic improvement in fishing at the lake, with lots of trout in the 16-inch class and larger,” Norden said.

“This is normal. In late February, the first warm-ish rains will raise the temperature of the shallower areas of the lake and increase the activity of both the trout and the insects they feed on.

“Like last year, the action will be on the opposite end of the lake from the boat launch, which is a large area of water from 6- to 9-feet deep or shallower.

“Casting a bobber with a 6-foot leader and a nightcrawler while anchored is the way to go.

“If it gets warm enough, the yellow perch may begin biting as well. In my honest opinion, they taste better than the trout, when big enough, anyway.”

River fishing class

Menkal is teaching his two-part river salmon and steelhead fishing class starting Tuesday, Feb. 18, and concluding Tuesday, Feb. 25.

Both sessions start at 6 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m.

The cost for the class is $25. Bring a notepad, pen or pencil and a chair.

Class attendance is limited, so phone Menkal at 360-683-1950 to reserve a spot or for more information.

The classes are held at Brian's Sporting Goods and More at 609 W. Washington St. in Sequim.

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 13. 2014 6:35PM
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