Saturday morning looked to be a nautical madhouse, what with the opening day of boating season, the opening day of the recreational spot shrimp fishery, and the first weekend of lingcod fishing all falling on local boat ramps at the same time. Chaos certainly had been the case in past years.
But this time around, the weekend weather was so lousy that boat traffic was cut significantly — a good thing for those waiting in line to launch, but a negative if you couldn’t find protected water to drop a pot for shrimp or a jig for lings.
The wind-hampered result, according to state Fish and Wildlife Department biologist Mark O’Toole, was a lower shrimp catch than anticipated in some spots, including Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9.
“Generally, we had weather issues,” O’Toole said of the shrimp opener. “The worst conditions seemed to be in the Edmonds/Possession area, so if you were north of Oak Harbor or south of Edmonds, you had a better shot.”
Local areas 8-1 and 8-2 drew slightly fewer shrimpers than last year, but the catch was definitely down, and possibly down more than could be accounted for by poor weather conditions alone.
“Whatever the reasons, and there could be a number of factors at work there, the bright side of the lower catch in 8-1 and 8-2 is that those folks will probably get another day of shrimping,” O’Toole said.
He was still working the data when this was written, and results for the second (and last, as scheduled) day of the season, Wednesday, were not available. But if there is enough quota left for recreationists in 8-1 and 8-2, O’Toole said, the additional day most likely would be May 21. Watch for an announcement on the agency website, wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish.
The San Juan Islands — Marine Areas 7-East, 7-South and 7-West — are open Thursday-Saturday through May 10, then May 21-24, then May 28-31. Marine Area 7-West opens after that. See the regs for the schedule.
Hood Canal will be open May 10 and 21, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Discovery Bay will be open the same two days, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Lings opened May 1 and, locally at least, the fishery has not been a stellar one. The opener and the following day were both slow, according to All Star Charters owner Gary Krein in Everett. Krein said heavy tidal runs both days could have been a cause.
The weekend was pretty much blown out, and Krein said fishing Monday and Tuesday improved to a degree, but remained below what he had expected for the first several days of the season on Possession Bar.
Cabela’s Tulalip sponsors what should be a good seminar on fly fishing for sea-run cutthroat, in saltwater and in the rivers, with expert angler Dale Dennis. The seminar is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on May 13 and the store asks that you RSVP by calling 360-474-4880, or sign up in the Fly Shop. Dennis will cover when and where to find these beautiful trout, productive fly patterns and presentation, tackle and equipment.
More springer time
Spring kings will be fair game for two additional days on the lower Columbia (May 9-10) from the Tongue Point/Rocky Point line upriver to Rooster Rock. The limit will be one marked hatchery chinook. Bank anglers (only) can also fish farther upriver to the deadline below Bonneville Dam.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Joe Hymer, in the agency’s Vancouver office, said the run is slightly more than halfway past Bonneville Dam, with several thousand a day still going over the fish ladders, so there should be plenty of fish available for the two additional days.
Hymer said Wednesday that the river is high and dirty, however, so if there’s a choice, upriver is better than downriver.
Lake Stevens kokanee
Greg Rockenbach at Greg’s Custom Rods in Lake Stevens (425-335-1391) said the lake’s kokanee fishery has picked up considerably over the past week or so. Rotten Chum Guide Service reported a total catch in the 30-fish range over the weekend, with one nice kokanee going 15¾ inches. All nice, fat fish, Rockenbach said.
This is a good time of year for fishermen without downriggers to target the lake, since kokanee are holding right now at a maximum depth of about 20 feet — easily reachable with lead line or weight. Standard setup is a Dick Nite dodger, followed by a Wedding Ring spinner tipped with white shoepeg corn.
Rockenbach said the fish are scattered all over the lake.
Time is running out, by the way, to buy your ticket for the annual Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby on May 17. The event offers a first-place cash prize of $1,000, plus a lot of other cash and merchandise prizes. Youngsters 14 and under fish free and there are separate kids’ prizes.
Tickets are $20 for adults and are available at Greg’s, John’s Sporting Goods, Ted’s Sport Center, Triangle Bait &Tackle, Three Rivers Marine, and McDaniel’s Do It Center.
The Washington Brant Foundation hosts its annual fund-raiser and Puget Sound Working Decoy Carving Competition at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday at Holiday Sports in Burlington (360-757-4361). The awards ceremony takes place around noon, with a live auction about 12:30 p.m. There’s lots of sales and raffles throughout the store, factory reps on-site and fun activities for the kids. For more information go to wabrant.org, or Kurt Benson at 425-231-6497.
And while talking to Holiday Sports, Kevin John said both Heart and Erie lakes have fished well since the opener, with Powerbait the popular early-season choice — rainbow or sherbet colors — but that the guys really whacking fish are using “Mice Tails.” These are essentially Poer Eggs with a worm tail attached and they really show a nice wiggling action in the water. Other gear choices would include flies and brass spoons, John said.
Closer to this area, Lake McMurray got a big plant and is still putting out nice, fat rainbows for anglers using Dick Nite spoons, woolley buggers and Bingo Bugs. Or anchor and fish Powerbait or cast small Roostertails in black, brown or olive.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.