LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Silvers fading, steelies waiting

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

SILVERS AND STEELHEAD are the main fishing attractions on the North Olympic Peninsula right now.

Neither is doing incredibly well right now, as one of the fisheries is on its way out and the other is not quite ready for prime time.

The coho remain in-season until Friday, Nov. 30.

So far, it hasn’t been much of a fall season for silvers.

“Silvers are the mainstay of the fall,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“But they just haven’t shown up anywhere. There’s supposed to be a gazillion of them, but there is not.

“It was supposed to be a good season, but it’s not.”

The lofty expectations for the fall coho fishery came from the big-time success saltwater anglers had during the summer.

River fishers haven’t been so fortunate.

“It’s very weird. It has everyone around here scratching their heads,” Gooding said.

“Maybe someone swam out there and told them that there are a bunch of guys who want to hit them on the head.”

There is still time — a half of a month, to be exact — so it’s too early to write off the silvers.

“They could still come, but it’s kind of getting late in the season,” Gooding said.

After struggling with levels that were either too low or two high, Gooding reports that the West End rivers are “in decent shape.”

Waiting for turkey

The steelhead seem to know their role perfectly, which is to wait until Thanksgiving before making their triumphant arrival.

“We’re right on the verge of them coming in,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

“Thanksgiving is usually the kick-off.”

It looks like that will be the case again this year.

Or, at least, it doesn’t appear that the winter steelhead will be coming early.

Menkal said a few have been caught on the Dungeness River, and Gooding reports a few small steelhead have been taken from the Calawah River.

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said things are lining up for steelhead fishing to pick up soon.

“Steelhead are continuing to be caught off the Whidbey Island beaches, and I expect to hear about it really getting going next week, since it always has on Thanksgiving week,” Norden said.

Salmon chatter

Although they are the headliners, steelhead and coho aren’t the only options for Peninsula anglers.

Saltwater salmon, for instance, are still in play.

Menkal said Marine Area 9, in the waters off Port Townsend, has been producing salmon recently.

According to Norden, Marine Area 9 has also been a good place to harvest blackmouth, which are resident chinook.

“Blackmouth fishing has been exceptionally good on the east side of Marine Area 9, which includes Possession Point, Point-No-Point and Bush Point,” Norden said.

“Most of the salmon are 5 to 7 pounds, but there have been a few up to 15 pounds.

“Very few anglers are out, and from what I hear fewer than a dozen boats were out this past weekend, even when the wind stopped.

“Most of the trollers were getting their fish rather deep, so set downriggers at 130 feet.”

The salmon fishery in Marine Area 9 ends on Friday, Nov. 30. But the next day, Saturday, Dec. 1, Marine Area 6 (eastern Straight of Juan de Fuca) opens to blackmouth.

The daily limit in Marine Area 9 is two combined salmon; wild chinook cannot be retained.

Go after work

Here’s great tip from Norden regarding the time of day to go fishing:

“In my experience, November is the time to fish the evening bite — [between] 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. — when you don’t have to fish nearly as deep as in the morning or midday.

“The evening is when baitfish swim up to shallower water followed by the hungry salmon.

“Not many take advantage of this event right at sunset, but when I did, I trolled shallow ledges near shore at about 40 feet for some memorable times.”

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

Last modified: November 14. 2012 6:07PM
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