OUTDOORS: Halibut talks moving slowly

Other fish out there as fishing comes back

*Editors Note: This article included incorrect fishing regulations for Marine Area 5 (Sekiu). It has been corrected to accurately state the lingcod and rockfish limits west of and east of Slip Point.

A HOLDING PATTERNremains in place for prospective halibut anglers, as no action toward opening the prized flatfish fishery was taken in a phone call between halibut advisors and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife earlier this week.

“It was a check-in/update call and no decisions were made on an opening day,” Sequim’s Dave Croonquist said in an email. “Fish and Wildlife is continuing their internal discussions and will be reaching out to the various ports.

“I learned this morning that the Makah [Reservation] will probably be closed through June. I suspect the Quileute [Tribe] will follow suit. The southwest areas, Marine areas 1 and 2 (Ilwaco and Westport), are still concerned about a rush of anglers, especially if the word ‘halibut’ is mentioned.”

No official word has been issued by the Makah Tribe, but the emergency rule which closed the reservation to outside visitors March 16 remains in effect.

Makah tribal commercial fisheries also are shuttered by the quarantine as many fishing crews are made up of tribal members from different families and the potential intermingling aboard ship could potentially affect tribal elders and those with conditions that lend them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Croonquist said port and county health meetings were planned this week, and Fish and Wildlife plans another advisory call Monday.

Counties can enact stricter regulations than the state government, Croonquist cautioned.

“Even if the state opened the fishery, the counties can be more restrictive as to which facilities they might open.”

Creel checkers, those that interview returning anglers at docks and launches, should be ready to go for Washington’s inside waters when dates are revealed.

“It sounds like the Fish and Wildlife creel checkers for Marine areas 5-10 are going to be in place should something open,” Croonquist said.

Lake guidance

With freshwater fishing back in place, Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co. has some advice for those looking to wet a line.

“The two lakes to watch will be Tarboo and Sandy Shore,” Norden said. “Not only have those lakes received their regular catchable trout plants, but a couple months ago each received plants of several dozen 5-pound trout. After all that time in the lakes, those big fish should have nice and firm meat.”

Norden did caution that Sandy Shore, located off of state Highway 104, does receive a lot of off-Peninsula traffic from nearby Kitsap County, so take that under consideration.

Lake Leland is yet to be planted, though this should be the month after looking at the state’s trout stocking report.

“Lake Leland has not had its regular spring large plant of trout, but there should still be quite a few trout holdovers that all will be nice sized at 12-to-16 inches, plus extremely tasty,” Norden said.

And it’s spawning season for largemouth bass in area lakes.

“The largemouth bass in the lakes should now be on their spawning beds after several weeks of water temperatures in the 60s,” Norden said. “Try not to harass them too much while the small males guard the eggs from marauding yellow perch while the much larger females deposit the eggs on the beds. The males are quite aggressive at this time but if you release them close to the nest, they will go right back to their duties.”

Carrie Blake Park

Fishing reopened in the city of Sequim’s Water Reclamation Pond at Carrie Blake Park.

Anglers ages 14 and younger can fish the pond without a fishing license.

The North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers recommended the city encourage social distancing at the pond and city staff agreed, measuring off 12-foot lime stripes around the pond to keep folks fishing at a responsible distance from one another.

Mason’s Resort

Norden suggested hitting up Mason’s Resort in Sekiu (360-963-2311) for saltwater fishing. Mason’s is open with docks in the water and, as a private resort, can host camping.

Those fishing Marine Area 5 west of Slip Point can retain a lingcod between 26- to 36-inches in length and up to three blue or black rockfish. Anglers fishing east of Slip Point can keep one lingcod in that size range and the first blue or black rockfish they land.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.