OUTDOORS: Winds, waves and wet conspire against halibut opener; other fishing reports

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

WEATHER AND ROUGH seas conspired to make last weekend’s halibut opener a bit of a tough go for those out fishing the salt water.

Lightning strikes and an inundation of rain near Sequim on Friday and all-around wet, windy conditions for the North Olympic Peninsula didn’t provide much assistance for the two-day opener.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles went out in a two-boat party for halibut on both days.

His group was skunked on Friday but each boat landed flatties in the range of 10 and 25 pounds on Saturday.

So there was success, albeit a bit limited, weight-wise.

“The weather was horrible and we had some real heavy wave action,” Aunspach said.

“We were anchored but it’s tough, fighting for your balance all day.”

The Strait of Juan de Fuca offered up a struggle big enough to send even a seasoned angler seeking therapeutic relief.

“I headed to the chiropractor after all that,” Aunspach said.

That’s rough.

The wet and the bumpy chop didn’t help matters but it didn’t push people off the water either.

That’s what happens in such a time-limited fishery.

“It’s huge because it’s so fast and furious,” said Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim.

“People have to make it count.”

Creel reports from the opener suggest anglers were making the best of the worst of it.

The Ediz Hook ramp in Port Angeles saw 115 boats with 256 anglers bringing back 78 halibut and one Pacific cod Friday and 132 boats with 324 fishing taking 50 halibut and one Pacific cod.

John Wayne Marina was also active with 78 boats and 203 anglers catching 33 halibut Friday and 101 boats with 267 anglers hauling in 30 halibut Saturday.

“We heard of a 50-and an 85-pounder and several smaller halibut in the 25-to-30 pound range,” Menkal said.

Aunspach said some big outlier fish and several more in the 20 pound range had come in to be weighed at Swain’s.

“The biggest we weighed was about 140 pounds but we’ve only got two fish on the ladder,” Aunspach said in reference to the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s monthly fish derby.

“The guy who caught the biggest one didn’t have a derby card so the top fish on the monthly ladder is 86 pounds and then it drops down to fish in the 20s and 30s.

Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) are open again Saturday and weather reports suggest showers and more typical temperatures.

Other factors may hamper fishing on Saturday.

“Winds are supposed to be 15 to 25 knots with 2 to 4 foot seas,” Aunspach said.

“It might be tough with the big minus tides.”

In Port Angeles, a high tide of 7.18 feet peaks at 4:08 a.m. and a low tide of -1.29 feet is set for 12:25 p.m.

Still, Aunspach has seen plenty of anglers coming through Swain’s, readying themselves for Saturday.

“It’s been really busy in the store, lots of $100,000 boats in the parking lot,” Aunspach said.

Hatchery chinook

Hatchery chinook season opens for Marine Area 3 (LaPush) and Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) today.

“Should be lots of folks heading out west, a big migration,” Menkal said of the opener.

“With Neah Bay, it’s almost always a slam dunk.”

“You take the time to go out there and you usually get rewarded with fish.”

Menkal mentioned the lack of angler pressure on the fishery and the remoteness of the area as the big reasons for better odds out west.

Here are the upcoming rules and regulations for this hatchery chinook fishery:

■   Marine Area 3: Today and Saturday, May 23-24 and May 31-June 13.

■   Marine Area 4: Today and Saturday, May 23-24 and May 31-June 13.

The waters east of a true north/south line through Sail Rock are closed to salmon fishing.

The daily limit for all three areas is two hatchery chinook.

The minimum size for chinook is 24 inches. No size limit for other salmon species.

Release coho and wild chinook.

Season may close earlier if the coastwide guideline of 9,000 chinook is attained.

Kids fishing in Sequim

The 12th annual Kids Fishing Day presented by Puget Sound Anglers - North Olympic Peninsula Chapter is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Children 14 and younger can participate in a free day of fishing in the pond just north of Carrie Blake Park in Sequim.

A total of 1,500 trout will be stocked for the big day, including some big ones up to 5 pounds.

A special pool for younger kids also will be stocked.

Club members will have some poles and bait for youth, but if your child has fishing supplies, bring them.

The city of Sequim Public Works Department and state Fish and Wildlife help put this event on for the kids.

Spot shrimp Wednesday

The final day of the spot shrimp season (barring a missed quota) along the Hood Canal and in Discovery Bay is Wednesday.

“I’ve heard a few good shrimp reports,” Aunspach said.

“One guy told me he caught a limit, no exact details on where but it was right out here somewhere in Port Angeles Harbor so maybe the rough waters helped the shrimp move in.”

The area, dates and times for the shrimp season follow.

■ Hood Canal Shrimp District (Marine Area 12): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

■ Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Marine Area 6): Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

■ Marine Areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 (excluding Discovery Bay Shrimp District): Open daily.

The sport spot shrimp season closes when the quota is attained or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.

In Areas 4-6, start times are one hour before sunrise.

Razor clam digs

Razor clam digs continue through Monday on four Pacific Ocean beaches.

No digging will be allowed after noon on any beach.

Here are the digs, low tides and participating beaches:

■ Today: 8:27 a.m., -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Copalis.

■ Saturday: 9:12 a.m., -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.

■ Sunday: 9:59 a.m., -1.5 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.

■ Monday: 10:50 a.m., -1.1 feet; Twin Harbors.

■ Tuesday: 11:44 a.m., -0.6 feet; Twin Harbors.

Under state law, diggers can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig.

Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

Diggers may not harvest any part of another person’s daily limit, unless they possess a designated harvester card.


Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 15. 2014 6:02PM
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