OUTDOORS: Use lull before crab, salmon seasons to get gear in order

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF the brief lull in the fishing seasons to restock your tackle, shine up those flashers and haul out the crab pots in advance of July’s salmon and crab openers.

“Everybody is gearing up for salmon and crab seasons,” said Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim.

“We have a nice two-week window to tie up leaders, round up some gear, get the boat ready, check wiring and do all the little things so you won’t waste time in season.”

On the crabbing front, Menkal said to check your line for any signs of rot and make sure that the escape rings, cotton chords that allow the crabs the ability to scram if pots are lost, haven’t rotted away.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles had the same idea as Menkal.

“I’m seeing lots of customers pacing the aisles getting ready for the upcoming king season,” Aunspach said.

It’s time to put away the halibut stuff and inventory the salmon gear.

“That’s what I’m using this time for, so when the big day comes I’m ready to go,” Aunspach said.

As for actual, tangible fishing? An anglers best bet is to fish Lake Sutherland near Port Angeles for kokanee, Lake Leland near Quilcene for trout or head over to Neah Bay for chinook salmon.

“Neah Bay doing really well for kings,” said Jerry Wright of Jerry’s Bait and Tackle (360-457-1308) in Port Angeles.

“It’s been productive near the harbor and out in the Ocean.”

Aunspach also heard some solid things about the early days of the salmon fishery in Marine Area 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay).

“La Push has been putting out some fish and I’ve heard some folks have run all the way out to Swiftsure Bank (near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca) for salmon.”

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, was out visiting clients on the West End recently and popped in at Neah Bay.

“Fishing for chinook has stayed excellent for both commercial trollers and sports guys out of Neah Bay, but that pesky northwest wind and rough water keeps people from going far,” Norden said.

Norden mentioned the “Green Can” buoy in front of Waadah Island right outside of Neah Bay as being “very productive for kings up to 30 pounds.”

Norden suggest leaving the dock early, like before 4:30 a.m., to meet the bite.

“It’s already over by the time the sun is up two fingers above the horizon,” Norden said.

One good thing about the northerly winds, Norden mentioned, is that they have produced a “huge plankton bloom.”

“This is great for the rapidly growing coho,” Norden said.

“I am also getting consistent reports of coho up to 6 pounds already due to the abundance of krill in the water.

“If these winds keep up, there will be some big coho later this summer as the fish add up to a pound a week.”

Slow on West End

Things have been slow on the freshwater front on the West End.

“We need some rain or a good stretch of warmer weather to get some more snow melt coming through,” Wright said.

Wright just fished out on the Sol Duc, landing a few springers and one sockeye, but said that was more luck than skill.

“We just got lucky really and hit into a good hole,” Wright said.

He mentioned that the board level on the Sol Duc at the Hatchery Hole is running at just one board (it can range up to seven).

“It’s really super low, and what fish there are are getting pretty spooky.”

Wright has heard of some steelhead and spring chinook out on the Hoh River, and he mentioned the river as having “good flow” but said it’s also fairly slow.

“I did hear a decent report right when it opened; a guy went to Barlow’s and had some success,” Wright said.

Menkal offered some tips for those who do head west: try the lower sections of the Sol Duc and the Bogachiel.

“Use those floats and jigs, it’s the best time for them when the water is low,” Menkal said.

He said to use 8 pound test for your main line, with 6 pound test leaders with black swivels.

“Never brass or nickel,” Menkal said.

“Use the small micro jigs from here on out, from an 1/8th to 1/16th of an ounce.”

And use some subterfuge as well against those wary fish.

“You want to be almost undetectable so camouflage the floats, hide the orange, hide all the bright markers,” Menkal said.

Lake fishing

Aunspach mentioned solid reports on what is turning into a very good kokanee season on Lake Sutherland.

Get there early in the morning, around 5 a.m., and try a dodger with a wedding ring with a corn niblet at about 40-50 feet.

Menkal had one great report from Lake Leland.

“A couple came in and told me they caught a 20-inch trout in Leland,” Menkal said.

“That’s a tremendous size for this area.”

Derby a go for 2015

Directors of the Port Angeles Salmon Club voted to go ahead with plans for the 15th annual Port Angeles Halibut Derby on Memorial Day Weekend next year.

This year’s Halibut Derby drew 566 anglers and the club-sponsored event lost $4,027.

Newly installed president Scooter Chapman said the club will go ahead with plans for the 2015 derby, but will hold off on making final details until the next halibut season is set.

“We just want to get the word out that there will be a halibut derby next year so area anglers can start making their plans to take part,” Chapman said.

Chinook 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.

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

“This isn’t just for beginning anglers,” Menkal said.

“Rick will provide information on some advanced techniques, he’ll show you how to work downriggers, what depths to try, lures and all sorts of stuff.

“Experienced fishers will get something out of this class.

“It’s a real rare opportunity, to find out what he’s doing differently to help increase your catch.”

Menkal closed with a solid fishing story about Ray.

“Last year he took a group out on opening day, which was an awful day weather-wise, and he and his group hooked 20 fish in a 4-foot chop outside of Port Angeles,” Menkal said.

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

A king and silver seminar is planned in July.

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.

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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 mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 19. 2014 6:30PM
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