OUTDOORS: Fishing, crabbing and a sunny holiday weekend — can it get any better?

IS IT A perfect time for living on the North Olympic Peninsula, or what?

A holiday weekend starts for many today, weather about as perfect as it can get for this area for this time of year is predicted and salmon fishing and crabbing are going gangbusters right now.

What more could a Peninsula resident wish for?

Yes, this weekend will be paradise for those who love the outdoors. And it’s right here, right now for us lucky enough to be living here.

So, in-between going after the storied kings and checking those crab pots, enjoy the barbecues with the family and kick back Saturday to watch the fireworks after sunset.

And there’s not a raindrop in sight.

Strait is hopping

Strait of Juan de Fuca anglers are rejoicing after the first two days of salmon season Wednesday and Thursday.

The kings and silvers are plentiful. It seems most anglers are getting their limits.

Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) opened on a daily basis to hatchery chinook and coho fishing Wednesday.

“The salmon season started off very, very good,” Bob Aunspach at Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles, said.

On opening day, Aunspach went out and caught two salmon before his workday starts at 8 a.m. He had them caught by 6:30 a.m., before most people have breakfast.

“I was on the water at 4:30 a.m.,” he said.

But Aunspach wasn’t alone catching his limit.

He caught his two off the Winter Hole but other spots, including Freshwater Bay, off the Humps and up and down Ediz Hook were equally successful.

Shoot, if you put your line in your bathtub you would probably catch a salmon.

And these fish are not little.

The biggest king weighed 27 pounds.

The top fish in the monthly derby came in at 18, 20, 22 and the 27 pounds.

Anything seems to be working to catch the salmon, including mooching, jigging or trolling, Aunspach said.

The daily limit is two hatchery chinook, coho or pinks per day. Right now, though, the pinks haven’t made their appearance. They are not expected to show for a couple more weeks.

“There’s good fishing right now with the way the tides are rolling,” Aunspach said.

There are good outgoing tides, which helps with the morning fishing.

“You need to fish first thing in the morning,” he added.

And when Aunspach says first thing in the morning, he’s not kidding. He gets up at 3:45 a.m. to get finished by 7 to 7:15 a.m. for a change of clothes before he starts at work at 8 a.m.

“I’m a glut for punishment,” he admitted.

Traditional holes for salmon in Area 6 include the Humps, Winter Hole and just off Ediz Hook.

It’s important to remember, however, that all chinook must be released east of a true north-south line from the tip of Ediz Hook.

Anglers don’t have to worry about such boundaries in Area 5.

In fact, they will have a unique chance to catch both halibut and salmon through today (the end of Area 5’s flatty fishery).

The salmon season in Sekiu also opened with a bang Wednesday.

“Our opening went pretty well,” Julie Dawley of Olson’s Resort of Sekiu (360-963-2311) said.

“Kings and silvers are being caught,” she said. “There’s been some nice fish.”

The biggest salmon so far came in at 27 pounds.

The pinks are expected to be a couple of weeks out, Dawley said.

Of course, the focus is almost always on the kings around these parts.

Areas 5 and 6 are open to salmon fishing through Aug. 15, with only Area 5 reopening on Aug. 16 to a more selective season.

Coastal opener

The saltwater salmon season that kicked off Saturday in Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) was more of a hit-and-miss proposition than fishing in the Strait.

The coastal fisheries are open to salmon fishing, minus wild coho retention, Tuesdays through Saturdays only right now, and daily starting July 18.

While Neah Bay received the honors of the biggest salmon for the week (30 pounds), it appears that LaPush was having mixed results.

“We have a lot of silvers but not a lot of kings,” Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in Forks said.

The coho are being caught in the 11-pound range while there have been a couple of 25-pound chinooks caught, Lato said.

“I got one [Thursday],” Lato said of the 25-pounders.

He also caught one Saturday when the season opened.

“The boat got three kings [Thursday],” Lato said. “He was mooching.”

The three chinooks were in the 15- to 20-pound range.

“We usually get really nice ones,” Lato said. “I don’t know if they just haven’t got here yet or got lost and went into the Strait.”

The good news about the coastal saltwater fishing is that anglers don’t have to pull an Aunspach and get up at 3:45 in the morning.

“They bite all day,” Lato said. “I had a really good bite right after the tides changed [Thursday] at 9:30 a.m. And they were biting well this morning [Thursday].”

The prize for the biggest king of the week goes to Mike Hammer of Everett, who caught a 30-pounder while trolling off of Tatoosh Island.

“He caught a life-time dream fish,” Joey Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort in Neah Bay (360-645-2374) said.

“He said it took many years to catch this one.”

Hammer was trolling 100-feet deep when he hooked his dream fish.

In front of Neah Bay, Skagway Rock, Blue Dot, Swiftsure Bank and Umatilla Reef tend to be popular salmon holes for coastal anglers.

The Rock Pile is always a favorite of anglers fishing out of LaPush.

There are numerous other areas along the coast that can be productive as well.

Eastern salmon

Most the water on the Peninsula’s east side will remain closed to salmon fishing for the immediate future.

“The season won’t open here until mid-July,” Brian Menkal of Swain’s Outdoor (360-385-1313) in Port Townsend said.

A portion of Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) opened to salmon fishing south of Ayock Point on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) doesn’t open until July 16. That popular fishery, which includes selective chinook fishing, is open through Aug. 31.

Crabbing is hot

As if the salmon opener weren’t enough, several Peninsula anglers get the Dungeness crab opener as well.

Marine areas 6 and 9 both opened for Dungeness crab fishing Wednesday.

The summer season will remain open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, through Sept. 7. A winter season is likely to follow in November.

As with the salmon, crab fishing in the Strait has been productive.

“Dungeness crabbing has been phenomenal here,” Aunspach said.

Aunspach, who put a pot out in Port Angeles Harbor on Wednesday morning, had a full pot when he pulled it up Wednesday evening.

He got the limit of five crabs of 6 º inches. Aunspach had the pot 100 feet deep in the harbor.

“I broke into a sweat pulling the pot up,” he said.

“You can’t ask for a better start.”

Menkal said the crabs are just as plentiful in Port Townsend waters.

“Crabbing is hot right now,” he said. “Discovery Bay is getting really good returns. It has been really, really good.”

When the low tides are right, crabbers can even wade out in some spots (Pillar Point and Dungeness Bay come to mind) to pick up their crab.

Unfortunately, such tides won’t hit the Peninsula until later in July.

Also beginning in late July is crabbing in Hood Canal.

The season is set to start July 29 this year to help prevent the harvesting of mating female crabs, Fish and Wildlife shellfish policy lead Rich Childers said.

“Crab abundance in Hood Canal has dropped considerably since 2001 and we need as many crabs as possible for reproduction,” Childers said.

“Although it is already unlawful to harvest female crabs, [Fish and Wildlife] and tribal co-managers are taking extra precautions to help stabilize and protect the crab population.”

Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay) and 5 (Sekiu) have been open to recreational crabbing since mid-June. Both areas are open seven days a week through Jan. 2.

Freshwater fishing

Trout fishing on the North Olympic Peninsula lakes seems to be as scorching hot as saltwater fishing, according to Aunspach.

“They are still catching trout early in the morning,” he said.

Fishing in the early morning helps catch the trout before they decide to dive deeper.

“The sun comes out, it warms up and the trout go a little deeper,” Aunspach said.

Anglers might make the jaunt to one of Olympic National Park’s many trout lakes.

Most of this year’s snowpack has melted away, meaning access to many of the park’s sub-alpine lakes should be there.

That includes all of the ponds at Seven Lakes Basin as well as Lake Angeles and the Grand Lake area.

Many of these lakes are stocked with extremely aggressive brook trout, making it more than worth the hike for any dry fly angler.

Also . . .

• Waters West, located at 140 West Front St. in Port Angeles, will host a series of free fly tying seminars this summer.

The first seminar was held Saturday but more seminars are scheduled for July 11, July 25, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22.

For more information, contact Waters West at 360-417-0937.

• The Wapiti Bowmen Archery Club of Port Angeles, a family oriented club that has been dedicated to the promotion of the sport of archery since 1964, will be holding a summer 3-D archery shoot on July 25-26.

The range opens at 7 a.m. and final registration is 2 p.m. Camping is available on-site.

The tournament will have 40 full-size 3-D animals such as elk, deer and even dinosaurs set at unmarked distances along the trail that meanders throughout the ranges’ 20 wooded acres on 374 E. Arnette Road.

Adult fees are $12 for one day or $20 for both days. Breakfast and lunch are also served for a small fee. Door prizes and awards will be given out.

Awards will be given for all age groups from youth to seniors.

For more information on the club or the upcoming shoot, contact John Woodin at 360-670-5204 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

• Olympic National Park will began its summer program last weekend.

The weekly schedule, which remains the same through Sept. 6, includes numerous ranger-led walks through various parts of the park as well as several special presentations.

To get a complete listing, stop by one of the park’s visitor centers and pick up a copy of the OlympicBugler.

• Surfing and Traditions returns to LaPush for the sixth straight year this Independence Day weekend.

The event beings with a kids surf camp today that is open to all children. There will be a beach cleanup two days later on Sunday, followed by a three-hour free surf competition featuring multiple categories to win prizes.

For more information, contact North by Northwest Surf Co. in Port Angeles at 360-452-5144.

Also see Page B1 in Thursday’s edition for more information.

• Flotilla 42 of the Coast Guard Auxiliary will host a set of boater education classes at the second floor of the Pease Building on Ediz Hook on July 17-18.

Anyone under the age of 30 interested in operating a boat or jet-ski must have a Boater Education card by next year.

Cards can be obtained after completing an exam at the end of the classes. Classes are set for 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on July 17 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 18.

The cost is $25 for the book or $35 if two people share a book. Registration is required and can be done be calling 360-681-4671.

• Larry Ward will be the speaker at the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club’s meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Ward, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Fisheries biologist, will speak on “Using native winter steelhead for restoration of the Elwha River watershed.”

The public is invited to the meeting at the Gardiner Community Center, 980 Old Gardiner Road.

Call us, photos welcome!

Want your event listed in the outdoors column?

Have a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique, why not share it with our readers?

Send it to Matt Schubert, Sports Department, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362; phone, 360-417-3526, fax, 360-417-3521; e-mail [email protected]

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