AN OCEAN SALMON season opener in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) that will be held without Neah Bay’s involvement. What a weird sentence to write, but it reflects the upside-down nature of the times.
Saturday is the coastal salmon opener in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) and Marine Area 3 (La Push), but neither location is open for visitors.
Makah tribal land, including marinas and all services, remains closed to visitors, and the same holds true for the Quileute Tribe in La Push.
Neah Bay is the primary boat access point in Marine Area 4, and many who fish Marine Area 3 also launch from Neah Bay’s protected harbor to avoid any issues getting past the Quillayute River Bar and out to open ocean.
With Neah Bay closed, anglers will need to launch at Sekiu for the foreseeable future and remain aware of the difference in regulations between each marine area.
Anglers will have a one-chinook daily limit for Marine Areas 1-4 from Saturday through June 28. Coho may not be retained during this period. Beginning June 29, daily limits increase to two salmon per angler in all areas, and unmarked coho must be released. Areas 1, 3 and 4 will remain open seven days per week until quota totals are reached.
Marine Area 4’s opening isn’t solely limited to salmon. The area will reopen to bottomfish and shellfish — including mussels, clams and oysters — beginning Saturday.
Crabbing reopens west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, which runs from the Tatoosh Island Lighthouse north to Bonilla Point on Vancouver Island, but remains closed east of the line.
And shrimping also opens Saturday. East of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line the daily shrimp limit is 10 pounds, including heads and tails, for all species combined. No more than 80 spot shrimp can be retained.
Shrimp pot gear may be set or pulled from one hour before official sunrise to one hour after official sunset each day. Up to two pieces of gear per person and up to four total per boat may be used. Pot gear has a minimum mesh size of 1 inch.
Each harvester must keep their catch in individual containers, in their possession or labeled with their name.
Shrimp is open daily west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line beginning Saturday. The daily limit is 25 pounds, heads and tails, of which no more than 200 spot shrimp may be retained.
Launch the kayak
Quilcene tackle manufacturer and former fisheries biologist Ward Norden said he may launch his kayak at the former Snow Creek Resort launch, just east of the Makah Reservation, in Marine Area 4.
“It is gated, but it is a fine cartopper, canoe, kayak, or other carry-able boat launch,” Norden said. “The old sand boat launch is about 75 yards from the gate and is usable at almost any tide, which is more than I can say for many state saltwater launches. The location is sheltered from winds and close to the kelp forests for any hand-carried boat.”
Parking is extremely limited.
“There are only about three parking spots between the gate and state Highway 112,” Norden said. “I wish there were more car-top boat launches around Puget Sound and the Straits.”
Nearly 100 pounds
Thursday’s Outdoors column mentioned a 100-pound halibut was caught last Saturday off the Rock Pile. The bat signal reached the angler who hooked the mighty flatfish and I spoke to Sequim’s Bob Cooper about his big day out on the water.
Cooper, with the help of fishing partners David Johnson and Wally Jenkins, were able to haul in and bring aboard the big fish, which weighed in at 95 pounds all told.
“I would never have gotten it in the boat if it wasn’t for David and Wally,” Cooper said.
“One used a spear to put a line through him, the other used my gaff to tie a rope around the tail and hoist him up.”
A pretty simple rigging got the job done.
“Herring with no lights, no flashers, no jingle bells,” Cooper joked. “Just on a spreader bar and 4-pound weight.”
Cooper did say that he did season the bait up with “a little halibut nectar,” to create a scent trail for halibut to follow.
And he learned lessons from previous encounters with bigger halibuts earlier this season.
“I lost two others that were similar,” Cooper said. “I thought it was a seal they way they acted. I had 85-pound braid on it and didn’t realize on the first bite you need to open that bail, let them go for 100 yards and let them swallow that hook.”
Cooper retired to Sequim from Colorado four years ago. He was an avid fly fisher in Colorado and recommends anglers check out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Having driven through that area on a cross-country trip as a kid, I second the nomination — the scenery is stunning, and Cooper said the fish, mainly brown and rainbow trout, will bite.
Cooper also later caught and released an enormous Giant Pacific octopus after the halibut adventure.
“I thought I was hooked up with the bottom at first and then I said, “Well, I got a crab pot,” Cooper said. “It was probably 8 feet long. I wasn’t sure if you could keep octopus, so I let it loose.”
I double-checked the regulations and found anglers fishing with hook and line can keep an octopus.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.