LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Chinook dividing line

WHEN I HIKED Cape Flattery last month I recognized I was standing at the point where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the mighty Pacific Ocean.

What I failed to grasp at the time was that I was also near the place that divides Marine Area 4.

The Bonilla-Tatoosh Line runs from the western end of Cape Flattery to Tatoosh Island Lighthouse, then in a straight line to Bonilla Point on Vancouver Island.

This imaginary line occasionally packs a real punch, like it did this week when it became the dividing line for the Marine Area 4 chinook season.

The fishery is now closed east of the line, but remains intact west of the line.

So, the updated Marine Area 4 chinook regulations are one per day with a 24-inch size minimum, west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line only. Both wild and hatchery chinook can be harvested.

Stephen Jimmicum of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay said the best king fishing happens west of the line, so he doesn’t know how the east closure will affect business.

“It’s too early to tell if it’s going to hurt us or not,” Jimmicum said. “We’ll probably find out this weekend.”

Jimmicum said anglers are catching some nice kings in the waters off Neah Bay lately, most weighing between 12-30 pounds.

Swiftsure has been particularly productive.

Anglers are still catching decent-sized coho as well.

Salmon report

It appears the Marine Area 5 salmon fishery is picking up just in time for the weekend.

Gary Ryan of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu said that after a few slow days, a lot of kings were biting Thursday morning.

Several of the chinook harvested weigh in the 20-pound range.

Near Port Angeles, many anglers are getting their limits, but it’s taking a little time and effort, according to Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim.

Freshwater Bay has been particularly hit and miss lately.

Menkal adds that the most successful anglers are continually changing color and depth to find a winning combination.

“If something is not working, go to something new and different,” he said.

Marine Area 9 seems to be the current hot spot for salmon.

“Port Townsend is going gangbusters,” Menkal said.

But fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist Ward Norden expects a decline in kings is just around the corner.

“Chinook fishing in Port Townsend remains fairly good, but is beginning to gradually taper off since the peak of the run has gone through,” Norden said.

Fortunately, many silvers are around that same corner. Norden predicts some good coho numbers will be seen by the middle of next week.

Yum, yum tuna

It is a year-round fishery with no catch limit, only a few participate in the fishery, and its table fare is debatable, but it needs to be said that tuna are hanging out closer to shore than they normally do.

So, now is a good time to head to the coast to get your tuna fix.

The problem is, “hanging out closer to shore” means tuna are 30-40 miles out, rather than 100-200 miles.

Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said that distance requires a reliable boat and a rare amount of intestinal fortitude.

“It’s a long way out on a big pond,” Gooding said. “There’s no gas station, no repair shop and no island.

“If something does go wrong out there, it’s like being in the middle of the Sahara Desert without any camels around.

“I don’t know why you would do it. You can buy a perfectly good can of albacore tuna at Safeway.”

Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in LaPush reports fairly average tuna numbers right now, but one boat this week caught 14.

“Mid-August is when it really takes off,” Lato said.

Black bear hunt

It’s open season for black bears.

The season is so young, it just started Wednesday, that there isn’t much to report and it’s difficult to say what kind of season it will be.

Menkal said the meager berry patches will prevent the hunt from getting off to a running start.

But Norden said the berry crops by Quilcene should entice the bears.

“This year we already have a fine berry crop of early ripening, native, low growing blackberries,” Norden said. “They are particularly fat and sweet this year.

“Since those berries are particularly numerous on 3-8 year old clear cuts, that is where the bears will be.”

The beauty of black bears liking blackberries isn’t lost on me.

Friendly tip: When out picking berries, make sure you aren’t dressed like a bear.

The black bear hunt is open until Nov. 15. Hunters are allowed to take two bears during the season.

For more rules, see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting pamphlet, which can be downloaded at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations.

Fly fishers meeting

The Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers’ monthly meeting will be a little different this month.

It will feature a showing of “Once in a Blue Moon,” a DVD that depicts a rare event in New Zealand when mice are the target of big rainbow trout.

Fitting for such a film, Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers member Phil Huffman will demonstrate how to tie a mouse pattern.

Fly fishing class

Waters West will hold a Fly Fishing 101 class Saturday, Aug. 11.

This beginning class will teach anglers the basics of fly casting and fishing.

The class runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Pooh’s Pond at 2983 Eden Valley Road in Port Angeles.

The cost is $25, which includes the fee for the pond.

Waters West will provide all the necessary equipment.

For more information, visit http://waterswest.com/classes-clinics or call 360-417-0937.

Archery shoot

The Wapiti Bowmen Archery Club will host its annual 3-D Hunter Warm-up shoot Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 11-12.

All archers are invited to participate in the shoot that will feature 30 full-size 3-D targets.

The event will be held at the Wapiti Bowmen facility located at 374 East Arnette Road in Port Angeles.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. each day.

Breakfast and lunches will be available both days.

For more information, contact Mark Jackson at 360-683-7787 or visit wapitibowmen.us.

Swain’s ladder

The Swain’s General Store’s monthly salmon derby ladder finished the way it was for most of July.

Jeffrey Delia won with a 30.2-pound catch, Bob Aunspach was second with a 24.8-pounder, Larry Breitbach took third with a 23.13-pounder and Jeff Merriwether was fourth place at 23.08 pounds.

The August ladder already has two names: Jeff Reynolds brought in a 24.3-pounder Thursday and Cookie Allison is second with a 15.8-pound catch.

For more information on how to participate in the monthly fish derby, call Swain’s at 360-452-2357.

Bike trails

In Thursday’s column I wrote that Olympic National Park has two bike trails.

It turns out, the Spruce Railroad Trail is the park’s only functioning bike trail.

I hope my gaffe didn’t ruin anyone’s weekend.

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 [email protected] or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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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 [email protected]

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