By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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We've had two almost identical storm fronts blow through the past two weekends, messing up the chances for the weekend angler to come away with steelhead in our West End river systems.
But this weekend appears a little different, and not just because the calendar has switched to spring.
A chance of rain is predicted Saturday and sunshine is forecast for Sunday.
River levels are dropping back into line and discharge rates, while nowhere near perfect, are getting better and fish reports are perking up.
Best bet for winter (spring?) steelhead would be to hit the Sol Duc River.
Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim has had some solid leads from anglers who recently had some success out there.
“The big thing is there is fish on the Sol Duc so in two days it should start dropping down and the weekend looks pretty good,” Menkal told me Wednesday.
What Menkal has heard jives with what I received in my inbox, a photo of a nice native steelie in the range of 16 pounds or so, landed on the Sol Duc River by Yakima's Keith Johnson.
Johnson was fishing with Matt Enges, owner/operator of Sensei Guide Service, and he caught the fish while side drifting down with the pace of the river.
For more on Enges' trips, visit www.senseiguideservice.com.
Sekiu to freshwater
On the saltwater side, Menkal mentioned that blackmouth fishing is picking up between Sekiu and Freshwater Bay.
“A boat near Freshwater Bay had four fish in, all hatchery keepers,” Menkal said.
“Another boat was out near there, he wouldn't tell me exactly where, but they limited out.
“They were using a coho killer, a little narrow spoon trolled behind a flasher.”
Ward Norden of Quilcene, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, is also hearing good things about Freshwater Bay.
“One of my compatriots 'played hooky' and fished Freshwater Bay this week,” Norden said.
“He and his two friends limited on blackmouth from 6 to 10 pounds.
Norden's buddy told him the fish were caught on coho killer spoons (cookies and cream color) trolled at 75 feet, and that the area was plugged with baitfish.
Creel reports also suggest heading to the west.
Olson's Resort at Sekiu had 20 anglers landing 14 chinook last Saturday, while the Ediz Hook public ramp had 19 fishermen nabbing seven that day and seven landing four fish Sunday.
Sequim Bay had good luck, too, with four boats catching four chinook last Sunday.
Good odds there.
Lingcod in Area 3
The early ocean spring lingcod fishery opened last weekend in Marine Area 3 south of Cape Alava.
Bad weather hampered the start, so this weekend should offer better conditions.
2014 salmon season
Three alternative season public review options for the 2014 coastal salmon season have been released by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The high sport fishing quota alternative this summer is 60,000 chinook (compared with 51,500 last year) and 193,200 hatchery-marked coho (75,600 last year).
The middle alternative is 58,000 (41,500) and 176,400 (71,400); and the lower-end alternative is 47,500 (30,000) and 159,600 (63,000).
“The news is generally good for ocean salmon seasons this year,” council chair Dorothy Lowman said.
“Most of the key salmon stocks are strong up and down the coast, and all three options provide reasonably good fishing opportunities while still meeting conservation goals for weak stocks.”
Under this most-permissive plan, La Push and Neah Bay will be open for a selective hatchery chinook fishery daily on May 16-17 and May 23-24 and May 31-June 20.
You can keep two of these guys but have to send back coho and any wild chinook.
The traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho at La Push would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12 with a daily limit of two salmon.
Neah Bay would be open daily from June 21-Sept. 21 with a daily limit of two salmon.
Under this plan, La Push and Neah Bay will be open for hatchery chinook daily May 23-24 and June 7-20 with anglers able to keep two while releasing all coho and wild chinook.
Dates and limits for the traditional ocean salmon fishery for chinook and hatchery coho for La Push and Neah Bay are unchanged from the High Alternative suggestion.
Under this worst-case scenario, there would be no early season hatchery chinook fishing.
For anybody. Boo.
Anglers would have to wait another month for the traditional season of chinook and hatchery coho.
La Push would be open daily from June 14-Sept. 21 and Sept. 27-Oct. 12 with a daily limit of two salmon.
Neah Bay would be open daily from June 14-Sept. 21 with a daily limit of two salmon.
Announcement in April
Final seasons will be decided April 5-10 at meetings at the Vancouver Hilton Hotel.
For more information, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/northfalcon.
Fishing the Peninsula
Fishing the Peninsula, a Peninsula College course that intends to help those new to the area become more familiar with the variety of fishing opportunities available here, is set for Friday and Saturday, April 11-12.
The course is taught by Ron Link and consists of a three-hour classroom session from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. that Friday, followed by a fishing excursion on Saturday.
Cost is $76.50.
To register, phone 360-452-9277 or visit pencol.edu.
Link has been a recreational fishing instructor with Peninsula College since 1999 and also has been a licensed fishing guide and commercial fisherman.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at email@example.com.