OUTDOORS: High gas prices beaching anglers?

A WAVE OF beach casters has descended on the beaches of Admiralty Inlet this salmon season including Point Wilson at Fort Worden and Marrowstone Point at Fort Flagler and at numerous Whidbey Island beaches, including Bush Point.

“How people are fishing is very different this year,” Quilcene angler and tackle maker Ward Norden said.

While on a ferry trip to Whidbey at the height of the pink run, Norden was witness to the difference.

“From the ferry I only saw two boats with my binoculars, yet an hour later on a side trip down to Bush Point I saw a hundred casting [and catching] from the beach,” Norden said. “The cost of marine fuel and auto fuel is changing behavior of the anglers. At $5-plus per gallon of marine fuel, a two humpy or two hatchery coho rule is simply not worth it.

Have our high gas prices influenced the number or frequency of your fishing trips this year?

Small coho in Canal

Norden stopped by the Quilcene National Fish Hatchery to take a look at the holding pens and was taken aback by how small the coho were.

“Of the hundreds there, I don’t think I saw a one that was 5 pounds,” Norden said. “Most were 3-to-4 pounds.

Norden also spoke with Skokomish Tribe beach seiners netting coho on Quilcene Bay.

“They weren’t getting any that the buyers wanted because the buyers wouldn’t accept any coho under 5 pounds,” Norden said.

“The seiners released most back to the bay. This morning on my morning bicycle ride I stopped off at the hatchery again where the workers were spawning the coho from the pens. I think I saw only one of many dozen that might have been 5 pounds.

“This is amazing and poses questions. Of course, the domesticated coho used by both this federal hatchery and the state hatcheries have become smaller after a century of inbreeding, but the case here in Quilcene is extreme.

“I can only speculate the Quilcene coho are not migrating to where the best food supply is as you would expect but are staying in an area with less plankton like the nutrient-poor Hood Canal”

End with a bang

Expert angler John Beath of Sequim will discuss coho fishing techniques at Wednesday’s meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Sequim Elks Lodge, 143 Port Williams Road.

Beath is a chapter member of the group and will share his knowledge on catching coho, based on years guiding in Alaska and developing lures that catch fish.

Beath’s company, SquidPro Tackle, offers a wide range of gear and can be found in area sporting goods stores.

A short business meeting, current fishing reports and raffle drawings will follow Beath’s talk.

Raffles are for members only, but guests can join at the meeting to take part.

An annual individual membership is $25 and a family membership is $35, which includes a monthly subscription to The Reel News.


Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

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