By Michael Carman
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Out in the saltwater, blackmouth season has ended for all Peninsula marine areas.
Back on land, only select rivers are open for the last gasp for steelhead out west, with steady rain ramping up water levels and decreasing the chances of an already unlikely strike with that particular, choosy species.
Spring chinook have been showing up for a few weeks now, but the aforementioned rain and mountain runoff may dim chances at fruitful strikes.
There's always some form of fishing available here.
The best bets for this weekend are lingcod and bottomfish in the salt water off of LaPush and Neah Bay or the year-round trout fishery at Lake Leland near Quilcene.
Lingcod start strong
Reports of productive lingcod and bottomfish fishing are coming in after the lingcod season opened in Neah Bay on Wednesday.
Encouraging reports rolled in from both Joey and Dawn Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay.
“Fishing was good, lots of ling around,” Joey Lawrence said.
“Most of the fish were caught inside, around [the] Sail Rock/Third Beach area.
“[I] heard most of the ling were caught in 60 to 80 feet of water [and] most fishermen had their six to 10 seabass to go along with their ling [limit] so [it] made for a good day of fishing.”
Dawn Lawrence echoed Joey's solid report.
“The anglers that came out (about 20 to 30 boats) landed their two lings,” she said.
“And the black and blue bass.”
Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim called the lingcod fishery “a slam dunk,” so head out west to get your shots up.
A free seminar on all things halibut in advance of the upcoming season will be offered at Brian's Sporting Goods and More, next to J.C. Penney's at 609 W. Washington St. in Sequim, starting at 6 p.m. Friday, May 2.
John Beath, a tackle designer and manufacturer, will impart his knowledge of just how to stalk the flat fish.
“He'll touch on anchoring, bouncing things off the bottom, lures and effective techniques and all aspects of halibut fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca,” Menkal said.
“He won't give precise GPS coordinates,” Menkal joked, “but it's a great refresher and you might hear something you have never heard before.”
The halibut fishery will be open May 9 and 10 and May 17 in Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait) and Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).
It will also open Thursday through Sunday, May 22-25, for Memorial Day weekend, again from May 29-31 and one last day Saturday, June 7.
Halibut fishing will open in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu area) Thursday through Sunday, May 22-25, for Memorial Day weekend.
The fishery will open again May 29-31 and will be open one final day on Saturday, June 7.
Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay)open May 15, two days per week on Thursdays and Saturdays through May 24.
If enough flatties remain, the fishery will re-open June 5 and/or June 7 and possibly on additional Thursdays and Saturdays depending on the amount of quota available until reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.
The combined quota for both areas is 108,030 pounds.
Plan wisely, things are a bit different season-wise than in years past, with most of the openings overlapping as opposed to being spread out.
Menkal passed along that he's been hearing some good reports for springers out on the Sol Duc River.
“I've had some customers getting them for the past week and a half out there,” Menkal said.
“The spring runs if you can catch them, are the best eating of any salmon because they have the best oil content.”
Menkal said the same items used to catch steelhead will land these guys.
“You can use corkies yarn, spoons, spinners, plugs,” Menkal said.
“If something's not working, don't be afraid to change it up,”
People that do the changeups, those are the ones who generally get the fish.”
Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles passed along that things have been “good on the Sol Duc.”
“All rivers have produced over the past three weeks, but the Sol Duc is the best option.”
“With the rain coming, check the USGS flow charts before heading west.”
Licenses, catch cards
Menkal has been doing a land-office business for fishing licenses lately, and with the lowland lake trout opener set for Saturday, April 26, that trend should continue.
If you still need your license, try to space it out and go on a slower day.
I'm going to pick mine up somewhere on Monday, maybe at Henery's Hardware in Port Townsend, or at Menkal's store or possibly here in Port Angeles at Swain's General Store.
There are more outlets scattered around the North Olympic Peninsula, just don't forget to pick one up or the fishing warden will not take kindly to your forgetfulness.
Also: turn in last season's catch cards to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Everyone should have received their notifications by mail already, and you have until April 30 to send them along.
Hopefully, they can devise an Internet-based solution to help make the process easier for those that are more tech-savvy than post office-friendly.
Buying stamps, filling out an address with an actual pen?
Sounds like anathema to those raised up on email like myself.
Halibut fishing focus
How to fish for halibut during the upcoming halibut fishing season is the focal point of the next meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers Club.
The meeting is set for Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 100 S. Blake Ave., in Sequim at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, May 1.
Halibut fishing opens on May 9 in Marine Area 6, the eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
At the meeting, members will provide demonstrations of equipment and advice on fishing areas.
There will be an expanded segment on the “boat anchoring method for catching halibut.”
For more information on the group, visit www.psanopc.org.
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Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.