Anyone living on Sasquatch Lane is just automatically going to catch a big fish, no doubt about it. And Robert Deauvais fulfilled that requirement over the weekend, nailing a 96-pound halibut to carry home (on Sasquatch Lane, Port Angeles) the $5,000 check for first place in the 2013 Port Angeles derby.
The winning fish was taken in the Freshwater Bay area, according to derby official Norm Metzler, as was the 2012 winner. Last year’s top halibut weighed 112 pounds, and Metzler said that while no century fish were weighed in during this derby, heavyweights of 130-pounds plus were reported caught in the eastern Strait during the first couple of weeks of a very good early season.
The derby drew 617 entrants, down a bit from last year’s 668, but they weighed approximately 100 halibut — about the same as in 2012. The weather was a little damp, but reasonably calm, Metzler said.
Second place and $2,500 went to Josh Constant of Port Angeles at 93 pounds; third and $1,500 to Jesse Ahmann of Whitefish, Montana, at 89 pounds; and fourth, worth $1,200, to Richard Logie of Renton, at 86 pounds.
One interesting trend in Western Washington halibut fishing was evident when considering the depths at which many of the larger derby fish were caught. At 150 or 200 feet? No way, Metzler said.
“A lot of the top derby fish were hooked at only 60 to 80 feet,” he said. “The second-place winner, 93 pounds, took a herring in only 60 feet of water.”
And why is that?
Metzler said it’s because more and more good halibut fishermen are switching from drifting bait or jigs to fishing off the anchor.
“A lot more guys are anchoring now and using the chum bag technique, like they do up around Sitka,” he said. “And the anchoring setup is a lot easier in shallower water.”
Waiting for a halibut to come up the scent line and find a bait also makes circle hooks more effective, Metzler said.
Saturday’s river opener is looking good on the Skykomish, according to Bob Hammond at Three Rivers Marine in Woodinville.
“The river’s in great shape and they’re already holding 15 or 20 fish at the Wallace hatchery,” Hammond said. “The weather forecast doesn’t indicate a lot of rain or high temperatures, so it should be a good weekend.”
The Reiter Ponds area likely will be first choice for many steelheaders, but Hammond said Cracker Bar at Sultan also should be carrying fish, and that “the stretch from Lewis Street (Monroe) up to the Ben Howard access will definitely produce a steelhead or two.”
He said last year’s opener on the Sky was a good one, and that he and a buddy took limits drifting High Bridge to Sultan.
A strong lingcod season continues locally, according to All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein of Everett, and while heavy tides made ling fishing difficult over the long weekend, they calm down for next Saturday and Sunday, Krein said.
“There are still plenty of fish on Possession Bar,” he said, “and the artificial reef south of Hat Island has put out some surprisingly good ling fishing at times this spring. It’s been probably the best season there I can remember, except for the fact you have to get through a lot of rockfish to find ‘em.”
Coming up, Krein said, is the catch and release salmon season opening Saturday in Marine Area 10.
“More and more local guys all the time are taking advantage of that fishery,” Krein said, “to tune up for the summer seasons and maybe hit one or two of the adult kings which are typically going through this time of year to south Sound.”
Washington Department of Fish and Wildliffe creel samplers at the Port of Everett ramp on Sunday tallied 69 anglers in 29 boats with 20 lings, two halibut and three cabezon. Farther north, 66 fishermen contacted at the Cornet Bay public launch had seven lings on Sunday, and seven halibut. At Washington Park, west of Anacortes, 23 fishermen had 10 lings and one halibut.
Three of the guys from Holiday Sports ran out to Hein Bank from Cornet Bay one day last week for a halibut/shrimp combo trip and loaded up. They took halibut on anchor and drifting, from 15 to 40 pounds, using a sardine inside a glow skirt on one rod, and a squid/herring cocktail on another.
Free upcoming seminars at the Tulalip Cabela’s include:
June 1: 11 a.m., Puget Sound Crabbing Essentials; gear, bait, line, and where to go.
June 2, 1 p.m. in the Gun Library: Shotgun Cleaning 101. Keep your firearms in like-new condition.
June 3: 6-7:30 p.m., Advanced Tips and Techniques for Archers; pre-registration suggested by calling 360-474-4880.
June 8: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Family Outdoor Adventure Day; free kids fishing pond, live music by The Bobbers, youth archery shoot, decoy painting, kids calling contest, laser shoot, BB gun shooting, face painting, gold panning and more.
Every Saturday, June 8 to Nov. 9: 11 a.m., Responsible Firearm Ownership.
Every Saturday, June 15 to Aug. 24: 1 p.m., Learn to Fly Fish. Each class will present the basics of fly fishing including techniques, gear, casting, fly selection and more. Pre-registration is suggested by calling 360-474-4880. For a complete schedule of upcoming free classes and events, call that number or go to www.cabelas.com/tulalip.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.