OUTDOORS: Salmon season beginning on the coast

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

THE SALMON SEASON’S full rollout is approaching for those of us on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

If you can’t wait until July 1, hatchery coho join chinook and other species on the dance floor starting Saturday out on the West End.

In Marine Area 3 (LaPush), coho of 16 inches or larger join chinook and other species from Saturday through Sept. 21.

Release any wild coho and stick to the daily limit of two salmon, regardless of species.

Anglers are fishing toward a subquota of 4,750 hatchery coho or 2,350 chinook, and if those numbers are reached then the season may close.

The same guidelines apply in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line.

The only difference here is length of season, with this season running from Saturday through July 31.

From Aug. 1 to Sept. 21, anglers have to release chum.

The season may close earlier if the subquota of 19,220 hatchery coho or 7,000 chinook are caught.

Things are the same from Saturday through July 31, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, but changes come Aug. 1 to Sept. 21.

From Aug. 1 on, anglers can keep hatchery coho of 16 inches or longer, but must release wild coho, chum and chinook.

Now if those salmon would just show up a little closer to the coast where recreational anglers can take a crack at them.

Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said that both salmon fishing and hatchery steelhead in West End rivers has been slow going.

“Some are hitting into some fish but most are having a tough go of it,” Gooding said.

“I talked with some experienced guys and they went up by Umatilla [near Cape Alava] and got skunked.”

“There’s not a bucket of them around.”

Numbers seem to back him up.

During the mark-selective chinook fishery, which took place May 16-17, 23-24 and May 31-June 8, just 16 percent of the coastwide quota of 9,000 fish were caught.

That fishery ends today.

Through last Sunday, a total of 82 anglers fished for salmon in the LaPush area, landing just six hatchery chinook, all of which were landed from June 2-8.

The bite has been better off Neah Bay, with 265 anglers catching 95 marked chinook from June 2-8.

Early reports from commercial salmon fishers were strong, but those guys are out 40 or 50 miles offshore.

Low and slow on rivers

River steelhead fishing conditions in the West End are looking more like late July than mid-June.

“There’s not very much water in our rivers,” Gooding said.

“Some folks are hitting into springers out of the Sol Duc, but it’s more of a 1-3 fish average than last year’s 3-5 fish.”

It’s always a good bet to check the ponds near the confluence of the Bogachiel and Calawah Rivers.

“There’s been a little action there, a few natives caught and put back in, some comebacks, late-winter runs that are coming back through and some summer-run hatchery fish,” Gooding said.

“But nothing I’d write home to mom about.”

Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim echoed those sentiments.

He went out for some time on his favorite river, the Calawah, last Sunday afternoon.

“The rivers are dropping down and the water condition is really clear,” Menkal said.

He was out from 2 p.m. to about 5 p.m. and “nobody got a fish when I was out there.”

Menkal didn’t see any signs of previous catches either.

“No blood on any rocks, no fish guts, it was empty,” he said.

With the rivers dipping so low, anglers have to change some things up so as not to spook whatever fish they do find.

“Avoid the bright colors, wear clothes that don’t stand out and be stealthy,” Menkal said.

“It’s more like hunting for fish than fishing for fish right now.”

Lake fishing report

Lake fishing really isn’t that popular of a pastime out on the West End.

When you have the Pacific Ocean in your backyard and steelhead swimming through out front, you tend to forget about the lakes.

Wentworth Lake is fully stocked with trout, plus populations of kokanee and some coastal cutthroats.

There’s largemouth bass out there and some bluegill as well.

“There’s a gob and a half of fish in there,” Gooding said.

“It doesn’t get fished that hard as well . . . There are more attractive options.”

Gooding said there were plenty of trout in the lake but “there’s not enough salt and pepper in all of Clallam to make those edible to me.

“But that’s just my opinion.”

Menkal mentioned he spoke with a group from the Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers that recently fished Wentworth and “had a great day out there.”

“[Lake] Leland still producing and kokanee are being taken from Lake Sutherland,” Menkal said.

He also offered it might be a good time to hit Sutherland with the summer vacation season starting up and the amount of wave action that follows from jet skis and pleasure craft sure to increase.

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist ventured over to Sandy Shore Lake with a buddy recently.

“Trout fishing was fair there for bank anglers and I saw a couple caught,” Norden said.

“Bass fishing was slow but my partner and I did get a couple.”

In advance of Father’s Day, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked Sandy Shore with 150 triploid trout in lengths of 15 to 17 inches and weighing 1.5 pounds.

“Sandy Shore Lake has never impressed me as very biologically productive, being nutrient poor in contrast to Lake Leland which is a real food factory for fish, but at least it is better than Horseshoe Lake across the highway.”

Salmon seminar

A chinook salmon fishing seminar is planned at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More, next to JC Penney’s at 542 W. Washington St. in Sequim, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 24.

Experienced salmon fisherman Rick Ray will instruct attendees on the finer points of mooching and trolling, bait, rigs and more.

He’s a pretty renowned angler in these parts,” Menkal said.

“Last year he took a group out on opening day and landed 20 fish in a 4-foot chop outside of Port Angeles.”

Cost is $20 and you’ll want to RSVP to 360-683-1950.

A king and silver seminar is planned in July.

Menkal will offer his popular steelhead class at 6 p.m. Tuesday and again Tuesday, July 1.

I attended the class in March and increased my base of knowledge about the species a great deal.

Cost is $25 for the steelhead seminars.

Phone ahead to reserve a space.

Fishing courses

Ron Link, a former fishing guide and commercial angler, who has instructed fishing classes at Peninsula College since 1999, has two upcoming classes.

First, Fly Fishing for Ladies, a beginners course that is targeted at women but welcomes men, is set for a two hour class from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 9 and a noon to 3 p.m. field trip on Aug. 2.

Cost is $93.50.

Fishing the Peninsula, 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, Aug. 8-9.

The course 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 for either class, phone 360-452-9277 or visit pencol.edu.

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.

________

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: June 12. 2014 6:04PM
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