By Wayne Kruse Herald Columnist
Frigid temperatures turned the weekend’s two-day Resurrection Salmon Derby into an ironman competition, but 87 boats — 12 more than last year — answered the bell and some of the north Sound’s hottest rods found fish. Participants weighed in 95 chinook on Friday alone, according to Jay Field of Anacortes, president of the sponsoring Fidalgo-San Juan Islands chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.
“It was cold,” Field said, “but all things considered, fishing was pretty good. The guys found a bunch of smaller fish, but some nice ones as well.”
First place and $10,000 went to Dale Nelsen of Bellingham for a chinook of 16.9 pounds, compared to last year’s winning fish of 15.7 pounds. Randy Welch of Anacortes took second place and $2,500 with a 15.8-pound chinook, and third went to Kevin Kurras at 15.3 pounds.
The winning boat total (legal boat limit, four anglers, two days) of 79.4 pounds was well below the 2012 boat total of 93.6 pounds.
Field said the ten-grand fish was caught on herring in Harney Channel, off the south end of Orcas Island. Herring also nailed the second-place fish, in Thatcher Pass, while the third-place chinook came from MacArthur Bank.
The winning boat team was composed of Greg Gorder, Hugh Allen, and Chuck and Jennifer Payne.
Take a lantern to the next series of razor clam digs, said state Fish and Wildlife Department coastal clam manager Dan Ayres in Montesano, because lantern light is much more effective than a flashlight when it comes to spotting clam “shows.” And, Ayres added, check out the razor clam recipes on state’s website. The list includes a pretty good chowder recipe, he said.
The next series of digging evenings is as follows: Saturday, minus 0.1 feet at 4:45 p.m., at all beaches except Kalaloch; Sunday, minus 0.3 feet at 5:26 p.m., at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, and Mocrocks; Monday, minus 0.4 feet at 6:03 p.m., at Twin Harbors, Long Beach, and Mocrocks; Tuesday, minus 0.4 feet at 6:38 p.m., at Twin Harbors only; and Wednesday, minus 0.3 feet at 7:12 p.m., at Twin Harbors only.
The limit is the first 15 clams dug, regardless of size or condition, and each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container. All diggers age 15 or older must have an applicable 2013-14 fishing license to harvest razor clams. Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on the state’s website and from license vendors around the state.
Upper Columbia steelhead closure
Steelhead fishing closed Sunday on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers, and on the Columbia between Rock Island and Wells Dam. The closures do not affect the fisheries on the Methow, Okanogan or Similkameen rivers, or the mainstem Columbia from Wells Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. Those fisheries remain open under previously published rules until further notice.
Jeff Korth, the state’s regional fish manager, said the closures are necessary to limit the impact on wild steelhead within limits established under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“This year’s run is smaller than in recent years and contains a relatively high proportion of wild steelhead,” Korth said. “Because of that we saw an increase in the rate of encounters with natural-origin fish in some areas.”
Travis Maitland, state biologist for the Okanogan area, said the Methow has been very slow so far this season.
Fishing and hunting licenses make good Christmas gifts, but so does the Discover Pass, a document many outdoor folks dislike buying for themselves. Keep them on the straight and narrow by checking out http://discoverpass.wa.gov/ and gift them with legal access to state lands (Department of Natural Resources, state parks, and others) not already covered by a free (with purchase of a license) Vehicle Access Pass for state-owned lands.
The annual winter spectacle of hundreds of elk and bighorn sheep being fed on the state’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area, 15 miles northwest of Yakima, is not yet underway, but planning ahead doesn’t hurt. Call 509-653-2390 for updates on feeding and volunteer-led elk-viewing tours. Tour reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance by calling 509-698-5106. A Discover Pass (see above) or state Vehicle Access Pass must be displayed on vehicles parked at the Oak Creek headquarters area or other state-owned viewing sites.
Big salmon opps
Some of the state’s largest coho are taken annually from the Satsop and Chehalis rivers, and now’s the time to give it a shot. As of Dec. 1 the limit on the two streams is two adult salmon, only one of which can be a wild coho.
The winter chum run is off to a good start on the Nisqually, which has one of the best late chum fisheries in Western Washington. It usually picks up steam in mid-December and lasts well into January.
February 6-8 are the dates for the upcoming Roche Harbor Classic Salmon Derby, which offers $10,000 for first place and a cool $30,000 for a 30-pound winning fish. Tickets are $700 per boat for this team event, with a 100-boat limit, and moorage is included. For tickets or more information, contact Debbie Sandwith at 360-378-5562 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.