By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Fishing will be open today and Saturday in Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) before closing under a rule issued by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
State fishery managers expect the recreational harvest in those areas to reach the 108,030-pound combined area quota by the end of the last day of fishing, said Michele Culver, Fish and Wildlife regional manager.
Anglers pulled an impressive haul of 66,787 pounds of halibut out of those areas in the Pacific Ocean and Strait of Juan de Fuca last Thursday and Saturday.
If fishing had been a little slower, there was the possibility for another Thursday and Saturday opening during the first weekend in June, which would have provided a nice boost to the West End hospitality industry.
Culver said halibut fishing is now closed for the season in all sections of Marine Area 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), so no jaunts further south for halibut either.
Halibut does open today in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), with fishing allowed Thursday through Sunday, then again Thursday, May, 29 through Saturday, May 31 and then one final day, Saturday, June 7.
The preceding schedule is same for the remainder of halibut season in Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and Area 9 (Port Townsend).
In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction.
Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a state catch record card.
Be careful with killers
Recreational boaters heading out and about in the surf on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, should take heed of orca whales and other marine mammals like Dahl’s porpoises.
It could get costly if you ignore the rules and regulations.
State and federal law requires boaters to stay at least 200 yards away from southern resident orcas and to avoid positioning their vessels in the path of oncoming whales.
Those boaters who unintentionally violate the 200-yard buffer must stop immediately and let the whale pass on by.
These regulations apply to a variety of small watercraft, including tour boats, private powerboats, commercial fishing boats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and personal watercraft.
“Boaters have a responsibility to keep their distance from these animals,” said Mike Cenci, Fish and Wildlife’s deputy police chief.
“To make sure this happens, the department is increasing the number of enforcement patrols dedicated to monitoring boaters and their interactions with whales.”
Fish and Wildlife issued 13 citations and dozens of warnings to recreational boaters last year.
Federal law also includes broad restrictions against disturbing or harassing any marine mammal.
Violating the state law can result in a fine of up to $1,025 and federal violators can be penalized a maximum of $10,000.
Prepare for hunting
Hunting season is a few months away but prepping for the season, including taking the required hunter safety education course, is a smart plan.
This is especially true when two required field skills evaluation courses are planned on the North Olympic Peninsula this summer.
Potential hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course.
First, study and pass the 16-unit Washington Hunter Safety course online at www.hunter-ed.com/washington.
Once you pass the exam and pay the $19.50 course fee, it’s time to sign up for field skills evaluation at www.register-ed.com/programs/95.
Twelve of 15 seats remain for the next such class at the West End Sportsmen Club, located off U.S. Highway 101 on Sportsman Club Road, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 21.
Successful students must pass a written test, demonstrate safe firearm handling skills, and have a positive attitude.
There is no minimum age required to enroll in hunter education, but instructors may require a parent or guardian to attend this classroom session if students are younger than 12 years of age.
All hunter education classes are taught by instructors certified by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A Port Angeles-area field evaluation course will begin at the Clallam County Courthouse, at 223 W. Fourth St. in Port Angeles, at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 12.
This is a larger course, but its filling fast; just 12 of 45 seats remain open.
At about 12:30 p.m. the class moves to a range facility on Lost Mountain, 4 miles south of Carlsborg off U.S. Highway 101 for the live fire portion of the testing.
Active duty military in Washington are exempted from the range portion and can get a license by taking the online test only.
Students should dress like they are going hunting and bring a lunch.
Attendees will be given an orange vest.
Range exercises include a trail walk, safe handling, animal identification of shoot-no shoot 3-D targets, and optional live fire with .22 rimfire rifles.
Eye and ear protection are mandatory and provided, or you may bring your own.
A voluntary donation of $5 per student is gladly accepted to cover expenses not provided for by Fish and Wildlife.
Halibut derby tickets
There’s still plenty of time to fish in the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s 14th annual Halibut Derby on Saturday and Sunday.
Retailers with tickets include Swain’s General Store and Jerry’s Bait and Tackle in Port Angeles and Brian’s Sporting Goods and More in Sequim.
Tickets cost $40 per person and are valid for one or both days of the derby.
Salmon Club members also will sell tickets Friday at derby headquarters at the Port Angeles Yacht Club, located at 1305 Marine Drive.
While there, anglers can pick up one of 150 launch permits valid during the derby and provided by the Port of Port Angeles.
These permits, along with derby hats, will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis at the Yacht Club.
Prize purse for the derby is $20,000, with the winner taking home $5,000.
Runner-up will receive $2,500 and third place $1,500, with the amounts dropping down all the way to the 30th place angler picking up $135.
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.