Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 finally opened for winter blackmouth late last week, with local salmon anglers expecting fair to good numbers of feeder chinook, albeit a little on the small side. That forecast proved accurate as those expected to catch fish did so Thursday and early this week as weather conditions allowed access to the usually productive spots.
State Department of Fish and Wildlife creel checkers tallied roughly one chinook for every 2 1/2 Area 9 anglers on opening day — six fishermen with two chinook out of Edmonds; 32/9 at the Port of Everett ramp; 8/4 at Kingston; and 54/27 at Port Townsend.
Marine Area 9 encompasses Admiralty Inlet and includes Possession Bar, Point No Point, Pilot Point and Double Bluff.
“Anything better than one for four around here is pretty good fishing,” said Gary Krein, owner/skipper of All Star Charters in Everett.
Checks of anglers who tried Marine Area 8-1 (Skagit Bay, north half of Saratoga Passage) showed two with no fish at the Port of Everett ramp, and 10 with four at the Maple Grove ramp on Camano Island. Marine Area 8-2 (Possession Sound, Port Susan, south half of Saratoga Passage) put out 10 blackmouth for the 40 anglers checked at the Port of Everett ramp.
The San Juan Islands, Marine Area 7, opened earlier this winter, but checks late last week at the Washington Park ramp in Anacortes showed 12 anglers with four fish.
Krein, contacted Tuesday, said Pilot Point, Possession Bar and Hat Island have put out blackmouth since the opener. The majority of the fish were in the 23-inch range, 4 to 5 pounds and about an inch over the legal minimum, Krein said. A few 24-inchers — about 6 pounds — had been boated, and an 8-pounder came in from Hat Island.
Coho Killers and 3 1/2-inch Kingfisher spoons in the cookies ‘n cream pattern were the hot items, Krein said, fished just off the bottom, 100 feet down at Pilot Point, 120 feet at the south end of Hat Island, and 150 feet on Possession Bar.
There was plenty of bait around, Krein said, and not nearly as many under-legal chinook as there had been earlier — a situation that prompted the state department of Fish and Wildlife to postpone the opener from Jan. 16 to Feb. 16. With attainment of the recreational chinook quota — and early closure of the season — always a possibility, Krein said it was probably a positive thing that bad weather kept most fishermen off the water over the opening weekend.
State shellfish managers have tentatively scheduled eight days of razor clam digging in March and April on four ocean beaches. Final approval of all scheduled openings at Copalis, Mocrocks, Long Beach and Twin Harbors beaches depends on whether results of marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.
This group of low tides includes three at minus 0.7 feet or lower.
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 15 or older must have an applicable 2017-18 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 Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov and from license vendors around the state.
A range of useful information on razor clam digging can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams.
The tentative tides for March and April are as follows:
March 2, minus 0.8 feet at 6:54 p.m., Mocrocks Beach only.
March 3, minus 0.3 feet at 7:34 p.m., Mocrocks Beach only.
March 16, plus 0.2 feet at 7:03 p.m., Copalis, Mocrocks.
March 17, plus 0.2 feet at 7:36 p.m., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
April 19, minus 0.9 feet at 9:46 a.m., Mocrocks Beach only.
April 20, minus 0.7 feet at 10:37 a.m., Mocrocks Beach only.
April 21, minus 0.4 feet at 11:34 a.m., Long Beach Twin Harbors, Mocrocks (digging hours will be extended to 1 p.m.).
April 22, minus 0.1 feet at 12:38 p.m., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks (digging hours will be extended to 2 p.m.).
State creel checks on the Forks-area rivers for Feb. 12-15 produced the following numbers:
Bogachiel, 13 boat anglers with six wild fish released, two hatchery fish kept, one hatchery fish released.
Calawah, two boat anglers with four wild fish released.
Sol Duc, 24 boat anglers, one bank angler with 23 wild fish released, one hatchery fish kept.
Lower Hoh, 50 boat anglers, 14 bank anglers with 50 wild fish released.
Upper Hoh, 10 bank anglers, two boat anglers with two wild fish released.