Michael Carman/Peninsula Daily News Strait of Juan de Fuca views are stunning near the beach at the Lyre River Conservation Area west of Joyce.

Michael Carman/Peninsula Daily News Strait of Juan de Fuca views are stunning near the beach at the Lyre River Conservation Area west of Joyce.

OUTDOORS: Lyre River Conservation Area offers Strait-side solitude

A MISSED TURN turned out to provide one of the better walks I’ve enjoyed recently as well as a possible beach casting spot along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Cooped up for most of an extended weekend mini-vacation with a severe summer cold, I set out for a drive west along state Highway 112.

I hit the biggies, Salt Creek County Park and the Camp Hayden Bunker, a slow drive along Crescent Beach Road and further west of Joyce with the intent to scout out the best camp sites at the Lyre River Campground.

Instead, I turned too soon on Reynolds Road and eventually found the Lyre River Conservation Area trailhead.

The 280-acre property, a former family farm and timberland, was the largest conservation project in North Olympic Land Trust history when purchased in 2014 and opened to the public Dec. 26, 2015. So, yeah, I’m a little late in discovering its beauty.

An easy 1-mile hike down a former road way to the Lyre River estuary winds its way through a recent clearcut, follows a path through a stand of second-growth timber down a small hill to a wooden footbridge across a tannin-stained creek and through a cleared meadow to a rocky 1/2-mile stretch of coastline.

The property reminded me of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort along the southern coast of Oregon, and I’ll admit that visions of the magnificent golf course that could be carved out of the property did enter my mind.

My unintentional visit came at high tide, but a better-timed trip would provide an opportunity to shore cast for sea-run cutthroats, steelhead or salmon out along the rocks.

Tall timber, salt water views, minimal elevation gain and maybe best of all? Complete solitude for two hours.

Beach casting in JeffCo

Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co., let me know beach casting season for salmon is here.

“Plenty of resident coho are available along the popular beaches in Marine Area 9 [Admiralty Inlet] and it won’t be long until more arrive from the west,” Norden said. “Beach casting for coho is becoming more popular every year on the North Olympic Peninsula side of Area 9 and is already a major event on the Whidbey Island side with combat fishing (and catching) a daily [occurrence].

Here’s what Norden advises.

“Beach casting is one of the simplest and most economical of all our salmon fisheries,” Norden said. “All that is required is a 7-½- to 9-foot spinning rod and a reel loaded with 12-pound monofilament [line]. Just add the favorite jig, spinner or bait rig and you are ready to go.

“Whidbey Island is where this excitement started years ago with anglers casting plug-cut herring weighted with large split shot sinkers. It wasn’t long before the casters discovered how effective green or yellow size 3 Buzz Bomb jigs were and thousands were sold every year.”

“In the last few years Buzz Bombs have been overtaken by a locally made jig called a Rotator which work even better, especially when a tiny plastic squid is placed over the hook.”

Norden had coho hitting heavy spinners with brass, French-style blades when beach casting along Hood Canal.

“Also in the last couple years, anglers have found good fishing with bobbers and either bait or tiny ⅛- to ¼-ounce brightly colored jigs.”

Norden said the most popular casting beaches are Point Wilson in Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, Marrowstone Point in Fort Flagler State Park, Salisbury Point County Park on the Kitsap end of the Hood Canal Bridge and at Point-No-Point lighthouse near Hansville.

I have friends who enjoy fishing at the two county parks on Portage Canal, the man-made cut between Port Townsend Bay and Indian Island, but I’ve went on a few of those trips and never saw a nibble.

Catch totals

Less pinks (and hatchery coho) were caught out off Neah Bay in state Department of Fish and Wildlife catch estimates through Sunday, while more and more of the odd-year salmon are showing up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Sekiu’s catch totals were full of pinks Wednesday.

Fish checkers at Mason’s Olson’s Resort counted 72 pinks, 18 kings, five coho and four chum in 42 interviews with 108 anglers. Over at Van Riper’s, 28 more pinks came in as well as one hatchery king and one hatchery coho in 13 interviews with 35 anglers.

Norden was over on Whidbey Island on Tuesday and said beach casters at Bush Point also were catching pinks in large numbers.

Hopefully anglers targeting hatchery kings can shake off the pinks and get down in the water column for success.

Shrimping, Crabbing talk

Fish and Wildlife biologist Don Velasquez will discuss shrimping and crabbing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound at Thursday’s Meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

The meeting will be held in Sequim at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., with viewing of raffle prizes and fish stories at 6:30 p.m.

Velasquez has a masters in Fisheries from the University of Washington and has worked for Fish and Wildlife since 1993.

His early work was with the intertidal clam/oyster enhancement team and since 1995 he has been working primarily with crab and shrimp fisheries in Puget Sound.

Velasquez’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m. followed by a break. A short club business meeting will follow the break and Dan Witczak will make a short presentation on effective coho fishing techniques.

Raffles will be held as well as a $75 membership drawing for those present.

Refreshments will be served and the public is invited to attend.

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]

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