I could almost see the wicked glint in Jay Field’s eyes as he gave me a rundown on the weekend’s big Anacortes Salmon Derby.
“That new one-fish limit this year changed the strategy completely,” he said. “It added a little bit of intrigue there,” he said. “The serious guys had to put together a whole new game plan,” he said.
And of course he was right. One hatchery chinook this year versus two means a difficult decision if you land, say, a 12- or 14-pounder an hour into the derby’s first day. What do you release and what do you bonk? Is it a top-20 fish or is it not? Two fish for a two-man boat is a lot smaller window than four fish. Plus weather, plus tides, plus what’s on the leaderboard, plus where did the highliners go, plus bait in the area, and on and on.
Some of the participants certainly figured it out, Field said. The Anacortes resident, charter owner and derby board president said it was, once again, a very successful event. The winning chinook (24.62 pounds, Bill Robillard of Anacortes, cut-plug herring on Lopez Flats) was significantly larger than last year’s 21.5-pound fish, and the average weight of entered chinook over the weekend was 9.7 pounds compared to 8.3 pounds last year. The water was a little sloppy on Saturday, Field said, but all-in-all not bad weather.
After Robillard and his $15,000 chinook came Mike Bredeson of Everson, who also caught his fish on herring, off Waldron Island, at 20.24 pounds, worth $5,000. In third place was Steven Martin of Bellingham with a chinook that weight 18.72 pounds and was worth $2,500. In fourth, Kevin Rude of Bellingham with a fish that weighed 18.48 pounds.
Youth division winner (14.64 pounds) was Trevor Westman; women’s top fish was a 13.66-pounder, caught by Kelli Martin; active military, Shawn Holmes, with an 15.08-pound fish; and in the over-70 division, Jim Brown won with a catch that weighed 12.08 pounds.
Derby fish were well scattered through the San Juans, Field said, but spots along Rosario Strait were perhaps the top producers.
Recreational spot shrimp fishing opens May 3 in Puget Sound, under recently released seasons similar to last year’s. Mark O’Toole, a shellfish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said local marine areas 8-1, 8-2, 9 and 10 will open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 3 and May 7; in the San Juan Islands, marine area 7, East, South and West will open May 3 for one day and then reopen May 7-10, May 21-24 and May 28-31. In Area 7 West only, the season will be open daily starting June 1 and running until the quota is reached or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.
Hood Canal will open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 3, 7, 10 and 21.
“We have slightly lower quotas than last year in Hood Canal and Discovery Bay, which are traditionally popular areas,” O’Toole said. “We will reopen the areas later if sufficient quota remains.
The state is expanding the opportunity for shrimp in Marine Area 7 West, which will be open daily beginning June 1. That’s a change from last season’s schedule of Thursday through Saturday fishing for the same time period. O’Toole said it’s likely this area will be open for spot shrimp well into the summer months, due to an increase in allocation implemented last year.
Shorter Puget Sound halibut season
You caught too many fish, dudes, so you’re getting your hands slapped. State Fish and Wildlife Department coastal policy coordinator Heather Reed said anglers will have three fewer days to catch halibut in Puget Sound when the season opens in May this year.
“We’ve seen increased interest in Puget Sound halibut fishing recently and, as a result, we went over our quota there last year,” she said.
To compensate, the department created overlap in halibut seasons among Puget Sound marine areas. In years past, the season was open in the western section of Puget Sound (Marine Area 5) on different dates than in the eastern region (marine areas 6-10), allowing anglers to fish both areas. The seasons have been jiggered this year, requiring fishermen to choose.
This approach is designed to prevent the Puget Sound fishery from exceeding its quota, while minimizing cuts to each region’s season. Anglers will have one day fewer to fish in the easstern region of Puget Sound, but will have the same number of days to fish for halibut in Marine Area 5, near Sekiu.
The awkward 120-foot rule has been adjusted to allow retention of lings and Pacific cod while fishing for halibut deeper than 120 feet, but only when halibut fishing is open in each of the Puget Sound marine areas.
Puget Sound halibut seasons: Marine areas 6-10, open May 9 and 10; May 17; May 22-25 (Memorial Day weekend); May 29-31; and June 7.
Marine area 5 (Sekiu): Open May 22-25 (Memorial Day weekend); May 29-31; and June 7.
Coastal Halibut Seasons
Marine areas 3 and 4 (La Push and Neah Bay): Open May 15, Thursdays and Saturdays through May 24. If enough harvestable fish remain, the fishery will reopen June 5 and/or June 7 and possibly additional days.
Marine Area 2 (Westport): Open May 4, Sundays and Tuesdays for three consecutive weeks; closed May 25 and 27, then reopened if sufficient quota remains. The northerrn nearshore area opens May 4 and continues seven days per week until the quota is reached, or Sept. 30, whichever comes first.
Spring Chinook fishing improved over the weekend in the lower Columbia, according to state biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver, with boat fishermen in the estuary averaging a little under a half-fish per rod. In the Portland area, it was 16 hatchery springers for 112 boats checked.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting proposed changes to state hunting rulels for deer, elk, moose and other species during a public meeting April 11-12 in Olympia.
Subjects to be considered on April 11 include:
Reducing fees for multi-season deer permit holders; master hunters with special permits for deer or elk damage tags; special permit holders who purchase a second deer tag; and hunters who are issued damage prevention or kill permits for second deer tags.
Decreasing elk permits by more than 400 in the Mount St. Helens area, now that the elk population is more in balance with area habitat.
Boosting the number of antlerless elk hunting permits by 620 for the Colockum area, where the population exceeds management goals.
And, streamlining the process for issuing special use permits to hunteers with disabilities, which enable them to use modified hunting equipment.
Berkley’s Fishing Wire reported a photo of an amazing five-fish catch of spotted bass that went 40.1 pounds — better than 8 pounds per fish. The incredible catch came on Strike King 10-XDs and Senkos, the Fishing Wire reported, from northern California’s Bullard’s Bar Reservoir, a deep, clear mountain impoundment. Source of the story was reported as Jay Kumars BassBlaster newsletter; visit http://bassblaster.bassgold.com for details and to sign up for the newsletter.