This 75-inch, 224-pound halibut was caught by Mike Mahoney of Park City, Utah, third from left, while fishing the Strait of Juan de Fuca out of Sekiu’s Van Riper’s Resort. The state record for Pacific halibut is a 288-pounder caught at Swiftsure Bank in September 1989.

This 75-inch, 224-pound halibut was caught by Mike Mahoney of Park City, Utah, third from left, while fishing the Strait of Juan de Fuca out of Sekiu’s Van Riper’s Resort. The state record for Pacific halibut is a 288-pounder caught at Swiftsure Bank in September 1989.

OUTDOORS: Free fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday with state parks access also complementary at times

National Forest access also free

A bevy of freebies beckon for the outdoors-minded over the next few days, just in time for wet weather to descend on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Saturday and Sunday is the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Free Fishing Weekend, with anglers able to fish without a license in rivers, lakes and marine areas.

Residents and non-residents can fish or gather shellfish across the state on those days, in any waters open to fishing, all without a license.

State Parks will waive Discover Pass requirements Saturday in honor of National Get Outdoors Day and Sunday for the Free Fishing Weekend. The next free day in state parks is set June 19 in recognition of Juneteenth.

Day-use fees at U.S. Forest Service recreation sites will be waived Saturday, including many picnic areas, boat launches, trailheads and visitor centers, including Olympic National Forest.

Fees for camping, cabin rentals or other permits will still apply.

Unfortunately, the National Park Service’s next free day is Aug. 4, so a free trip to Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rain Forest or other Olympic National Park destinations will have to wait a little while.

Halibut proposal

Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming announcement concerning a proposal for additional halibut dates in August and September.

I reached out to Fish and Wildlife’s Heather Hall about updated halibut quota data and received this in response.

“I am working on a notice about the remainder of the June dates and a proposal to re-open halibut for the north coast and Puget Sound in August and September,” Hall wrote in an email.

She said she was hoping to make that announcement by today.

Through Memorial Day Weekend, catch estimates show just fewer than 100,000 pounds of North Coast halibut quota remaining and 45,588 quota pounds remaining for Puget Sound.

Comment sought

NOAA Fisheries is asking for public comment on a Pacific Fishery Management Council recommendation to provide enough prey for the 75 Southern Resident orcas.

The recommendation would reduce impacts from commercial and select recreational fisheries off the West Coast when fewer than 966,000 kings are forecast to return.

That 966,000 figure is the average of the seven lowest years of forecast salmon abundance off the northern Oregon and Washington coasts. NOAA said chinook numbers have remained above that level in recent years, with 2007 the last year when forecasts would have fallen below that threshold.

Fishing quotas would be reduced north of Cape Falcon, Ore., and areas of the Columbia River and Grays Harbor would be closed to all but treaty tribe fishing until June 15.

Comments will be taken through Aug. 2.

To comment, or for more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/PDN-PFMCPlan.

Weather training

A free Skywarn Spotter Training session will be offered virtually this evening by the National Weather Service.

Skywarn is a program of trained volunteer severe weather observers who provide the National Weather service with reports of severe weather and its impacts.

The training will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight via GoToWebinar.

To register, visit https://tinyurl.com/PDN-SkywarnTraining.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected]

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