OUTDOORS: Steelhead pursuit begins

ANGLERS RECEIVED A nice gift in the form of three relatively dry days in which to get reacclimated to river steelhead techniques before the traditional run of hatchery fish begins in West End rivers in earnest around Thanksgiving.

So a little advice is in order before anglers hit the Sol Duc or the Bogachiel.

The first bits of wisdom are common sense. Anglers should tie all your leaders in advance as it’s much easier to do around a roaring fire than half-frozen in a howling windstorm. Then make sure to put the leaders in a trusty Pips Hook and Leader Dispenser for safekeeping. Keep the dispenser handy as the quicker you can swap out your setup the faster you’ll be back out on the water.

You also should check river levels before heading west.

Once you get there, don’t stay confined to one spot. Spread your wings and hit a few holes and see what swims past.

And try different methods. Float some jigs, drift-fish some corkies and yarn or when river levels are high start plunking.

Most importantly, enjoy your time outdoors.

Black Friday fishing

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering anglers opportunities for tight lines rather than long lines on the day after Thanksgiving.

The “holiday specials” include thousands of large trout averaging 15 to 16 inches in length and weighing up to three pounds.

The department is currently preparing to stock lakes in time for Black Friday, Nov. 25. In eastern Washington, hundreds of thousands of smaller trout stocked in lakes last spring should have grown to catchable size.

That includes Anderson Lake in Jefferson County. One catch there as Anderson Lake is currently closed due to the persistent presence of a toxic algae bloom.

Jefferson County Public Health tests conducted earlier this week are expected to be posted before the Thanksgiving holiday at tinyurl.com/PDN-LakeQuality.

Hopefully the lake clears up in time for the holiday. But I would head further south to Lake Leland if I was dead set on fishing on Black Friday.

Stay in touch with bottom

Ward Norden, owner of Snapper Tackle Company and a former fishery biologist who lives in Quilcene, has a good memory.

He recalled my running a photo last summer of Port Townsend’s Toni Boutilier and her daughter Adalynn with a largemouth bass they caught while fishing off the Lake Leland fishing pier.

“She and her mother were back at the pier last Thursday when I checked the lake temperature,” Norden said.

“They had six really nice rainbows in the cooler, 12-to 15-inches long, and I watched them catch the seventh. What was interesting to me, besides the cute success, was they were using nightcrawlers laying right on the bottom. That means that the fish are in winter mode even though the water was still 53 degrees which is over 10 degrees above normal.

“Anyone fishing more than a couple feet off the bottom, including fly fishers, will not do well until insect hatches begin in the spring.”

Crocker Lake hunting

Norden also had word of a new restriction printed on a sign at the Crocker Lake launch.

Crocker Lake is closed to all fishing, but open for duck hunting.

“For duck hunters hunting that lake, take note of the new restriction printed on the sign at the launch on where to hunt. Just stay away from the houses on the [U.S. Highway] 101 side of the lake. For the record I never have seen many ducks on Crocker Lake which has always been a bit of a mystery to me.”

King tide viewing party

Port Townsend’s first-ever King Tide viewing party is set today at 8 a.m. at the Port Townsend Salmon Club boat ramp next to the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.

Bridget Trosin, Washington Sea Grant’s coastal policy specialist and the event organizer, explains that “extreme high tides, known as king tides, are a dramatic feature of Washington winters that occur when the moon comes closest to Earth.”

While not a result of climate change, king tides do offer a preview of future high-water events as a changing climate causes sea levels to rise on Puget Sound.

Free snacks and hot beverages will be served and coastal experts will explain the science of these jumbo tides.

The public is invited to take part in the King Tides Project and document Washington’s extreme tides by photographing Puget Sound parks, beaches or wetlands when the tide peaks today and upload photos to www.washington.kingtides.net.

Chum run running out

Only a couple of weeks remaining for chums at the Hoodsport Hatchery on the Hood Canal, as the run is starting to fade.

But with a run size estimated at around 5,000 fish, anglers are likely to find something tugging on their line.

They won’t be bright, so these fish will have to go in the smoker if you can win a tug of war with the tough little buggers.

Most of the fishing is done in the bottom end of the hatchery creek, with anglers lined up on both sides of the stream channel.

Light steelhead-type gear works well, using float and jig, or Corky and yarn presentations. The colors drawing the most bites are pinks greens and chartreuse.

Snoopy Rod Classic

A group of members from Piscatorial Pursuits’, an online message board dedicated to fishing, gather for a day of friendship, fishing and fundraising for one of their own, Forks’ Gordon (Gordy) Gracey.

A longtime fishing guide for steelhead and salmon on the West End, Gracey was badly injured in a fall onto a rock slab while hiking near Dickey Falls in 2007.

Read about Gracey’s return to fly tying at tinyurl.com/PDN-Gracey.

Gracey faced mounting medical bills, so his friends banded together to put on this fundraiser.

The group is seeking outdoors items for the annual auction and raffle for this year’s event, set for Friday, Dec. 2.

The twist of the event is in its title. Anglers must use the one-piece Snoopy rods popular with kids while plying for hatchery steelhead on the Bogachiel River.

To offer an item, or for more information, phone Sypher at 206-518-4982.


Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

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