BLACKMOUTH CHINOOK FISHING opens Saturday in Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet), allowing anglers fishing near Port Townsend the opportunity to retain one hatchery clipped king a minimum of 22 inches in length.
Find the bait, find the bottom, find the fish is the equation for fishing winter blackmouth (year-round resident chinook).
Most winter blackmouth will be caught in the bottom 20 feet of water.
Midchannel Bank is the place to be, or at least near it.
The Bank, an underwater plateau really, serves to funnel salmon moving through Puget Sound.
It’s not incredibly deep, some spots are only 50-to-60 feet from the surface, so fishing near the bottom in deeper patches of water may be the best bet.
Those mooching herring have found plenty of success and the relatively newer method of trolling with downriggers also works just as well with Coho Killers and Kingfisher Spoons fished behind a flasher attracting the attention of hungry, or easily irritated blackmouth.
There are a lot of flats in and near Port Townsend Bay that attract schools of candlefish. Find one of these bait balls and set up shop.
Marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) join the blackmouth fun March 1.
Forks recorded 1.83 inches of rain Wednesday — bringing the January total to 24.46 inches and setting a new record for the month, the National Weather Service reported Thursday morning.
So, yeah, the rivers are blown out and with an “atmospheric river” aimed directly at us this weekend, they figure to stay that way.
Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim didn’t sugarcoat the situation.
“Not good, everything is so blown out right now there’s no way to fish it,” Menkal said. “All the big rains and weather has just blown them out. This is when I feel sorry for the guides trying to make a living this year. For us, it’s recreational, it’s sport. But those guys are trying to live.”
Eventually, they’ll drop (I think). And if you are new to fishing our area rivers, Menkal can help.
Menkal will offer his two-part Introduction to Salmon and Steelhead Fishing course at his store, 609 W. Washington St., No. 21 in Sequim, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday with part two following at the same time Tuesday, Feb. 11.
Menkal knows a ton of tips, tricks and locations to fish around the North Olympic Peninsula and offers the course for $50 per person plus tax.
“I’ll let you know where to go, when to go and what type of gear to use including rods, reels lines, lures and colors,” Menkal said. He’ll also offer maps of where to fish.
“The course is great for people who have moved up here and don’t know where to go. These salmon and steelhead are not hungry [in the rivers]. It’s not like fishing for trout or bass, the tactics are completely different.”
Menkal asks attendees to RSVP to 360-683-1950.
It may be the final sports fishing class Menkal offers as he told me he plans to retire this spring.
Always affable, helpful and patient with yours truly, Menkal, age 62, has plenty remaining in the tank for his later years.
I’ll have more on his career and what he has planned in retirement in an upcoming outdoors column.
Look for a closing-up shop sale soon, Menkal said.
Outdoors items will be sold at 30 percent off, barring firearms and gun safes, Menkal said.
Razor digs set
Razor clam diggers can return to ocean beaches for seven days of digging beginning Thursday.
State shellfish managers with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife approved a dig on evening low tides after marine toxin tests showed the clams are safe to eat.
The approved dig is for the following beaches, dates and low tides:
- Thursday: 4:40 pm -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Friday, Feb. 7: 5:26 pm -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Saturday, Feb. 8: 6:09 pm -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Sunday, Feb. 9, 6:51 pm -1.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Monday, Feb. 10: 7:32 pm -1.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
- Tuesday, Feb. 11: 8:13 pm -0.8 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
- Wednesday, Feb. 12: 8:55 pm -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
No digging is allowed before noon for allowed digs, when low tide occurs in the evening.
“Work to dodge the rain, and this should be a great dig,” said Dan Ayres, Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager. “Razor clams do not like fresh water, so heavy rain can make them harder to find, but with a bit of patience and good timing it should still be possible to bag limits of clams given the healthy populations across the beaches.”
Geoduck Salmon Derby
Quilcene’s Ward Norden let me know that the flyers are out and tickets are on sale for the 38th annual Geoduck (Murray) Salmon Derby on Hood Canal on March 7-8.
“This may be the last of the small local derbies left in the Puget Sound region, and in my opinion, the most fun and hospitable for all anglers,” Norden said.
“It is certainly the last derby where a 20-foot boat able to withstand 5-foot waves is not required for safety and success. This derby can be fished from a 12-foot car topper or even a fishing kayak.”
Norden enjoys fishing from his kayak in one of the best spots to find a king.
“The launch for this derby is in protected Pleasant Harbor near Brinnon on Hood Canal,” Norden said. “And one of the best places to get a salmon on the ladder is the ledge at the mouth of the harbor where you are still protected from southerly winds by Black Point.
“A kayak can reach the grounds in fifteen minutes of leisurely paddling. To make it even easier for small boats, the weigh station is at the state park pier just inside the mouth of the Harbor.”
Norden said most of the chinook landed in last year’s derby were trolled on Coho Killer spoons from Gold Star.
“Probably because nobody but us old guys know how to mooch a herring any more,” Norden said.
The derby wraps up that Sunday afternoon at the Geoduck Restaurant and Lounge along U.S. Highway 101 in Brinnon.
“Where the beer is cold, the chowder is incredibly good, and the burgers are awesome,” Norden said. “Top prize is $1,500 but there are plenty of other prizes.”
Tickets are $15 per angler and can be purchased at the Geoduck or at the Brinnon General Store.
For more information, call the Geoduck at 360-796-4430.