OUTDOORS: Three days of brant hunting begins Saturday in Clallam County

SOME HOUSEKEEPING IS in order after a lengthy vacation over the holidays and the first week of the New Year.

A variety of important outdoors information follows.

Blackmouth

Blackmouth chinook season opened Jan. 1 in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and is scheduled to run through April 15, unless anglers find too much success and bump up against the area’s chinook guideline.

The daily limit is two salmon, one of which may be a hatchery chinook with a minimum length of 22 inches. All coho and wild chinook must be released.

Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) also is open for salmon anglers through April 30. There’s a two salmon daily limit and all hatchery chinook must be at least 22 inches in length.

Anglers looking to fish in Marine Area 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) will have to wait until Feb. 1 and blackmouth season will open Feb. 16 off of Sekiu (Marine Area 5).

Derby tickets at retailers

Ticket sales are underway in person at a host of North Olympic Peninsula retailers and online at www.gardinersalmonderby.org for the 2019 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, set Friday through Sunday, March 8-10.

Jefferson County retailers with tickets are: Four Corners Store, Quimper Mercantile, West Marine and the Fish’n Hole in Port Townsend; Wild Birds Unlimited in Gardiner; Olympic Equipment Rentals in Port Hadlock and Fishing Supplies and Gear in Discovery Bay.

Clallam County retailers offering tickets are: Longhouse Market and Deli in Blyn; Brian’s Sporting Goods and More in Sequim and Swain’s General Store in Port Angeles.

Tickets are $40 at retailers and will be available until March 4.

Online ticket prices are $42.50 and can be purchased through March 6.

This winter blackmouth classic is part of the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s Northwest Salmon Derby Series and a grand prize 2019 Weldcraft Rebel 20 Hardtop boat powered with Yamaha motors valued at $75,000 will be awarded to one lucky winner.

Ticket holders for the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby are automatically entered into the boat drawing which will be held in the fall of 2019.

Brant hunting season

A three-day brant goose hunting season will begin Saturday and continue Jan. 16 and 19 in Clallam County. Brant hunts also will be held on those dates in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Pacific County hunters also have 10 brant hunting dates scattered through the remainder of January.

Bird counts in Clallam County shows brant numbers have remained about the 1,000 bird threshold for the last three years, the state criteria required to allow a season in these parts.

Brant eat eelgrass along saltwater shorelines, according to Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Company.

“They are a quite tasty bird,” Norden said before last year’s brant hunt in Clallam County. “They are about two-thirds the size of a regular migrating Canada goose or half the size of the Great Basin Canada geese that live around here all year.

“To hunt them you have to watch the tide tables carefully and hunt when the eelgrass is most accessible for the birds at low tide, setting up your decoys about a couple hours before low tide.”

Hunters should check the closed zones of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, likely the best location to encounter the species.

Those rules and regulations can be found at tinyurl.com/y7tn7bn3.

Commission meets

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Friday and Saturday in Olympia.

The commission will consider changes to the policy that guides statewide salmon fisheries, and will receive an update on progress in securing federal approval of a new Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan for Puget Sound.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will meet Friday and Saturday in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday and at 8 a.m. Saturday.

A full agenda is available at wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings.html.

Return crab card

All Puget Sound marine areas are closed to crabbing and recreational crabbers have through Feb. 1 to report winter results.

Sport crabbers who fail to submit a winter catch report will receive a $10 fine when they purchase their 2019 crab endorsement.

The department’s online reporting system is available through Feb. 1 at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/. Crabbers also may send their catch record cards to WDFW by mail at WDFW CRC Unit, PO Box 43142, Olympia, WA 98504-3142.

Ridge/park closed

Plenty of snow up in the Olympics and atop Hurricane Ridge, but the continued government shutdown is throwing a major wrench into the plans of winter sports enthusiasts with the continued closure of Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area.

Winter sports operators at the ridge plan to open as soon as a budget deal is reached.

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