OUTDOORS: Olympic National Park fishing regulation changes proposed

HERE’S TO KEEPING it simple.

Olympic National Park has decided to do just that with its proposed changes to fishing regulations on the Queets River.

If the fishing regulations are approved, the popular steelhead and salmon stream located in the southwest corner of the park would be divided into two parts instead of three.

Thus, the Hoh will gain sole possession of the mantle of “most convoluted Peninsula fishery,” if it didn’t have that title already.

The proposed change, now open to public comment, would designate two primary river sections on the Queets: A) Mainstem, below the Hartzell boat launch; and B) Mainstem, above Hartzell boat launch to headwaters.

That means selective gear rules (artificial lure with single barbless hooks) will be implemented above the boat launch to the headwaters throughout the angling season.

Under the current regulations, anglers can use bait, treble and barbed hooks in a section of the river from Hartzell upstream to Streaters Crossing boat launch during the winter steelhead and late salmon seasons from Nov. 15 through Feb. 28.

The rule change is one of two proposed by the park.

The other involves the elimination of the definition of “jack salmon” in the Pacific Coastal Area (the strip of park land along the coast) and Salmon River (Queets).

Any salmon over the minimum size limit, which is 12 inches, would be included as part of the daily limit.

The idea is to eliminate a regulation that targets harvest of jack salmon, which are sexually mature male fish that are younger than the youngest female in a spawning area.

Jacks are defined by the park as less than 24 inches for chinook and less than 20 inches for coho.

“These proposals reflect our continuing effort to protect park resources for future generations, while providing for public enjoyment today,” Superintendent Karen Gustin said in a news release.

“We invite interested people to review the proposed changes, and offer their input within the 30-day comment period.”

Full text of the proposed changes, along with the park’s current fishing and shellfish harvest regulations, are available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov.

Copies of the proposed regulation changes may also be requested by calling the park at 360-565-3081 or 360-565-3075.

Comments can be submitted online by visiting http://parkplanning.nps.gov, or sent to Superintendent – Proposed Changes to Fishing Regulations; Olympic National Park; 600 East Park Ave.; Port Angeles, WA 98362. Comments are due no later than March 11.

Disco Derby

Peninsula divorce lawyers ought to be licking their lips.

With the Strait of Juan de Fuca opening to winter blackmouth fishing this Saturday, which just so happens to be Valentine’s Day, anglers’ temptations are sure to be tested.

Throw in the fact that the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby is set for all three days this holiday weekend, and it appears more than a few Peninsulites could be sleeping on the couch for the foreseeable future at the very least.

The Disco Derby will stretch across waters in both Marine Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

The Derby runs from daylight until 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and daylight until noon on Monday.

The top fish in the ladder will bring in $5,000, second place $2,000 and third $1,000. The total prize list is currently at $16,682.

There’s even a “Valentine’s Day Sweetheart” prize of $500 for the woman, or girl, who turns in the largest salmon on Saturday. Advantage: women who don’t buy into traditional gender roles.

Tickets cost $30 and are available at many local merchants, and also online at www.swainsinc.com. All proceeds support Jefferson County Volunteer Fire District No. 5.

For more details, including information about discount moorage, hotel specials, and reduced launch fees for participants, visit the derby Web site at www.DiscoBaySalmonDerby.com.

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Matt Schubert is the outdoors and sports columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at matt.schubert@peninsuladailynews.com.