By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
This weekend marks the opening of the winter blackmouth season in local marine areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9, as well as the 21st running of the annual Bayside Marine Derby, and the team which has taken second place the past two years will be out there, working doggedly to defend its position.
Since the derby offers only a first-place cash prize, there is very little money awarded for second place. Zero money, actually, along with zero pride and zero bragging rights. But hey, second place sounds a lot better than 9th place, or 16th place and Team Red Boat will be right on top of it. Again.
The team ramrod is Tom Nelson, skipper, Lake Stevens resident, and host of The Outdoor Line, ESPN 710 Radio, 6 a.m. Saturdays, and the chief downrigger engineer is Jay Field, Anacortes businessman, charter owner and well-known salty personality. Smile pleasantly and wave to them as they go by.
“The blackmouth opener is about the only game in town this weekend with the weather the way it is, except maybe for elk hunting,” Nelson said, “but I think we’re looking at a good winter season, and the forecast sounds a little better.”
Nelson likes Marine Area 8-1 for derby weekend, because larger blackmouth traditionally come from Saratoga Passage this time of year, as opposed to Possession Bar. He said there’s a good flood tide early and Baby Island fishes well under those conditions.
“We might start there and then run across to Elger Bay for the ebb,” he said, “although Greenbank also produces on the ebb, and they should both be holding fish.”
He said the racetrack, between Hat Island and Camano Head, and south Hat will also “be worth a scrape.”
Nelson will probably be pulling a beat-up, tooth-scratched, 3 1/2-inch Silver Horde yellowtail spoon behind either a Luhr Jensen Coyote flasher or a Jims Breakaway.
“The crucial factor when chasing feeding chinook, however, is always ‘find the bait, find the fish,’”he said.
The Bayside Derby pays $2,000 for first place and charges $30 for a two-day ticket, a portion of which goes to a local food bank.
There’s an optional team tournament available for a side pot of $50 per boat. An after-derby barbecue on Sunday features free salmon, hot dogs, chips and beverages.
For more information go to baysidemarine.com or call 425-252-3088.
The winter crab season has been surprisingly poor so far, for both recreationists and commercials, according to state Fish and Wildlife Department crab manager Don Velasquez at the agency’s Mill Creek office. Reports from areas 8-1, 8-2 and 7 — good crabbing areas — have indicated very low success rates, Velasquez said.
“We didn’t expect a repeat of last year, but we thought it would be better than this, he said.
“The problem is not one of participation”, he said, with 19,134 winter crab report cards issued as of Oct. 25, compared to 17,942 last year at this time.
So how does this affect the outlook for the more popular 2013 summer season?
“If we finish as slowly as we’ve started, then we’ll probably have to consider cutting quotas in some areas next summer”, Velasquez said.
The winter season opened Oct. 13 in all marine areas except 10 (Seattle) and 11 (Tacoma), and runs through the end of the year. Winter catch record cards are free at any license dealer for those with a crab endorsement on their fishing license.
New shrimp policy
Ron Garner is president of the Sno-King Chapter, Puget Sound Anglers as well as the 17-chapter organization’s state board, and a well-known recreational fishing activist. He is currently serving as a volunteer on WDFWs spot shrimp advisory council, tasked with formulating a new Puget Sound Shrimp policy which could, late next week, set recreational shrimp quotas for years to come.
The council’s recommendations will be heard by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at a public meeting starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 9th, at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia, Room 172. Garner said its crucial that sport shrimpers show up to support more liberal recreational quotas, or at least send a supportive e-mail to the Commission (see below).
“We (recreational volunteers on the advisory council) are proposing a 75-percent recreational/25-percent non-tribal commercial split,” Garner said. “We had 75-percent in 1995, got dropped to 60-percent in 2003, and through a language ommission that year, dropped further to 50-percent over 10 years. Our quota will be cut further without a new policy. Last year we had a 2-day season in most areas and without readjustment it will get worse.”
Recreationists wishing to compose their own message to the Commission should e-mail it to commission @dfw.wa.gov. To send a pre-composed message through Puget Sound Anglers, go to www.pugetsoundanglers.org and click on the Action Alert link, then follow the signs. A glitch in the personal information section may require a FAX number. If it does, and you dont have a FAX number, simply repeat your telephone number from the previous blank.
If you enjoy shrimping, Nov. 9 is your last chance to support the recreational advisors proposal that will provide expanded opportunity for the recreational shrimping community.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.