OUTDOORS: Crabbing, salmon fishing get going in earnest shortly

EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING … or will be soon when seasons for king and coho salmon and Dungeness crab open and a variety of rule changes take effect that could make it easier to catch fish in area streams and lakes.

Oh, and halibut is open Saturday in marine areas 3-10.

Already open off the coast in Marine Area 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay), Sekiu in Marine Area 5, will open for hatchery coho and kings Sunday.

Anglers can keep two salmon (two of each or one of both) plus two additional sockey in Area 5. Just make sure the kings are at least 22 inches in length.

Marine Area 6 opens for salmon fishing Tuesday.

Hatchery kings and coho are the prize here too, with the same combination of two king/coho and two sockeye. And kings must be 22 inches or more in length.

And remember the chinook release area east of the true north/south line through the No. 2 buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook (i.e. stay west of Ediz Hook).

Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) opens to salmon fishing south of Ayock Point on Sunday.

There is an error on how many hatchery chinook can be retained in the recently released 2018-19 sports fishing rules pamphlet.

Here is the correct daily limit information: anglers can keep up to four salmon and all four of them can be hatchery chinook with no size restrictions. If anglers have a two-pole endorsement, they can use two poles.

Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) will open for salmon July 16.

Crab details

Crabbing opens Saturday in Marine areas 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Crab season started last Saturday in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay-east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), and is open year round on the coast.

The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Crabbers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.

Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

A warning for those using the recently released state fishing and shellfish regulations — a major component is missing — namely that recreational crabbing is open Thursday through Monday and closed on Tuesday and Wednesday during the season.

That means no crabbing allowed on the July 4 holiday this coming Wednesday.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast, where crabbing is open year-round.

All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Stay in your lane

To that effect, Fish and Wildlife and the state ferry system are teaming up to urge recreational crabbers to stay out of ferry lanes, docks and terminals when dropping crab pots.

In 2017, three separate ferries on three different routes were temporarily disabled due to crab lines and pots either placed in the ferry lane or improperly set and swept into the routes. Recreational crab lines tangled in the shafts of the vessels led to both costly repairs and lengthy delays for ferry travelers.

The Port Townsend-Coupeville route was hit hard when the Salish ferry bashed into a crab pot and did significant damage.

“Crab pots caused the most severe damage to the propulsion system on the Salish ferry last summer,” said Greg Faust, director of ferry operations. “The loss of this vessel alone resulted in nearly 800 cancelled sailings on the Port Townsend/Coupeville and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes as we shuffled boats around to balance service needs across our system.”

Fish and Wildlife Police offered these tips for crabbers:

Add Weight to Lines: Propellers can sever or wrap up a line floating along the surface. Use sinking lines when possible, and add weight to keep floating lines off the surface.

• Know Water Depth: The easiest way to lose a pot is to drop one in water deeper than the length of line attached. Use a line that is one-third longer than the water depth to keep pots from floating away.

• Watch Pots: Stay close to dropped crab pots to ensure all are accounted for at the end of the day.

• Add Extra Weights to Crab Pots: In many instances, adding just 10 pounds of weight can help recreational crab pots stay put.

• Use Escape Cord: Biodegradable cotton cord, which is required on all pots, will degrade and allow crabs to escape if a pot is lost.

• Identify Crab Pots: All recreational crab pot buoys must have the crab fisher’s name and address on them, and a phone number is recommended.

Lost crab pots should be reported immediately online at wdfw.wa.gov/enforcement/lost_gear/ or by calling 1-855-542-3935.

There are no penalties for reporting lost fishing gear.

To get the latest rule information, the shellfish rule change hotline is 866-880-5431.

Rule changes

A number of rule changes come into effect Sunday.

These changes should expand fishing access according to Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Company

“Fishing opportunities in our small streams are vastly improved since any small stream not mentioned is open from Memorial Day through Oct. 31 without selective fishery limitations,” Norden said.

He mentioned he’ll be able to fish the small stream in his backyard, Leland Creek, now.

“There are several small streams near Quilcene that fit this new rule including the Little Quilcene River whose selective fishery boundary is now all the way downstream to U.S. Highway 101,” Norden said. “This change is huge for kids and others who can’t afford to flyfish.”

Norden also mentioned a change in fishing seasons at Ludlow Lake.

“Ludlow Lake is now a year-around lake making this early season warming trout and bass lake a great opportunity,” Norden said.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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