Chris Chandler of Redmond, Ore., caught this hatchery chinook estimated to weight about 15 pounds while fishing off Sekiu during a 2020 trip with Tom Burlingame’s Excel Fishing Charters.

Chris Chandler of Redmond, Ore., caught this hatchery chinook estimated to weight about 15 pounds while fishing off Sekiu during a 2020 trip with Tom Burlingame’s Excel Fishing Charters.

OUTDOORS: Saturday is the big day for king anglers, crabbers

Do anglers toss and turn the night before salmon season opens along the Strait of Juan de Fuca like children awaiting the unwrapping of presents on Christmas Eve?

I’ll bet there are some that can’t get a handle on the excitement ahead of Saturday’s summer salmon season opener off of Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca).

Add in Saturday’s dual status as the opener for recreational crab season and you have a recipe for good times on the water and good eats back home.

Anglers fishing off Sekiu from Saturday through Aug. 15 (or sooner, if guideline is reached) can keep a daily limit of two salmon, including no more than one hatchery chinook. The minimum size to keep hatchery chinook is 22 inches. Release wild kings, wild coho and chum.

Based on state Department of Fish and Wildlife catch data from 2017-22, Sekiu’s king season is typically solid, with two pronounced peaks in July — July 5 and July 17, when chinook per angler stats rise to just over 0.6 chinook per angler.

Openers are usually solid, near the 0.4 fish-per-angler mark for early July, and July 23 also eclipsed the 0.4 chinook-per-angler mark. Hatchery coho can be found in July, but they will be under 5 pounds ahead of their August and September peaks.

Marine Area 6

Those fishing off Port Angeles in Marine Area 6 must stay west of a true north/south line through the No. 2 buoy immediately east of Ediz Hook.

Area 6 anglers from Saturday through Aug. 15 (or sooner, if guideline is reached) can keep a daily limit of two salmon. The minimum size to keep hatchery chinook is 22 inches. Release wild kings, wild coho and chum.

Port Angeles has typically started out strong in the 10 summers I’ve been writing the Outdoors column, with early July catch rates running from above 0.4 kings per angler to just under 0.6 per angler from 2017-22.

A true outlier, July 24, is the day you shouldn’t miss if you want a king as catch rates balloon to a little more than 0.9 per angler. No other day in July reaches 0.6.

Crabbing Saturday

The summer recreational crabbing season kicks off Saturday and runs through Sept. 4 off of Port Angeles, Port Townsend (Marine Area 9), Hood Canal north of Ayock Point, Sekiu and Neah Bay.

The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Fishers may also keep six red rock crab of either sex per day in open areas, provided the crab are in hard-shell condition and measure at least 5 inches carapace width.

Crabbing will be closed on the July 4th holiday (summer seasons typically are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Extreme low tides this weekend also will pose a challenge for people launching boats at some sites.

Recreational crabbers should target the portion of the day with the least tide exchange and make sure their crab pots are properly weighted down during these extreme low tides to avoid traps moving and becoming lost.

Crabbers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. Each unattended trap must have its own buoy line and a separate buoy that is permanently and legibly marked with the first name, last name and permanent address of the licensed harvester.

Crabbers also should remember to mark down their catches on their catch record card immediately after catching crabs.

To test crab recognition skills ahead of Saturday, take a test at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-CrabSurvey23.

Ocean stats

Statistics for the first full week of salmon fishing off Neah Bay (June 19-25) arrived earlier this week.

A total of 2,278 anglers caught 599 chinook for a catch rate of 0.26 chinook per angler.

All told, 832 chinook or 10 percent of the 8,710 area chinook guideline have been landed.

Anglers also brought in 129 coho to reach 172 on the season, 3 percent of the 16,600 coho guideline.

Pinks are starting to show up, with 12 caught last week.

La Push (Marine Area 3) has seen little action with 179 anglers catching 25 kings and nine coho last week. A total of 2 percent of La Push’s 1,590 chinook guideline has been reached.

________

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

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