An 81-pound fish won the 14th annual Port Angeles Halibut Derby over the weekend, a nice catch indeed, but well under the 96-pound first-place winner last year. Overall, fishing was good, said Port Angeles Salmon Club member Norm Metzler. Participants caught a lot of fish, but the average size was down, as was the smallest halibut on the ladder, a 36-pounder.
That’s not to run down the winner, Tyril Spence of Port Angeles. I would take 81 pounds of halibut and $5,000 if anyone offered it to me. I would probably take the fish alone. But the money would help.
The slab was caught while anchored, with a chum bag down, in 110 feet of water off Green Point, 5 or 6 miles east of Port Angeles, Metzler said. The bait was mackerel, the rod was a Shakespeare Sturdy Stik, and the line was 100-pound test.
Randi Owens of Sequim took second place and $2,500 for her 61-pounder, and Jerry Grose of Port Orchard boated a 59-pounder for third.
Some 564 hopeful anglers bought tickets, which also was down a bit — maybe 65 or 70 participants, Metzler said. The weather was pretty good, except for some wind and chop Saturday morning.
“It was generally real fishable,” Metzler said, “but that wind and tidal run made anchoring tough, early on Saturday, and it pushed a lot of guys in to shallower water. They still caught lots of fish, at 50 or 60 feet, and it was easier to anchor there.”
He said anchoring for halibut, common in Alaska, will soon become the most popular technique here. “Some of the guys said there were 50 or 60 boats anchored at a couple of the more popular spots,” he said.
Halibut were scattered, but Freshwater Bay, 5 or 6 miles west of Port Angeles, put out some nice fish, as did Green Point.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced summer crabbing seasons for Puget Sound over the weekend, starting with a June 1 early opening in Marine Area 13, south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
The crab population in Area 13 is not as robust as it is in other parts of Puget Sound, said state biologist Don Velasquez at the Mill Creek office, so when the tribes go in early, there aren’t enough crab “… to let us catch up.”
The result has been an under-catch by recreational crabbers in that area for two or three years now.
“One of our options to address the inequity is to throw everybody in there together, and we decided to go with it,” Velasquez said. “That’s why the month-early recreational opener in 13.”
The local waters, Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2, should be comparable to, or a little better than, the past couple of years, Velasquez said.
“Tribal test fisheries in the north end of Saratoga Passage have shown good crab populations,” he said. “Of course, the tribes will probably go in early, and a lot of recreationists feel that the tribal fishery impacts the recreational opener. It probably does, but at the end of the season, we’ve been coming out pretty close to a 50-50 split, and that’s what we’re charged with doing.”
Tests conducted in recent years have shown that crab in the south Sound are in hard-shell condition by June 1, allowing for an earlier starting date.
Here are summer crab seasons.
Open July 3 through Sept. 1 (Thursdays through Mondays each week): Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay east of Bonilla-Tatoosh line); 5 (Sekiu); 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca); 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point); 8-2 (East Point to Possession Point); 9 (Admiralty Inlet); 10 (Seattle/Bremerton); 11 (Tacoma/Vashon); and 12 (Hood Canal).
Open July 17 through Sept. 29 (Thursdays through Mondays each week): Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham).
Open Aug. 15 through Sept. 29 (Thursdays through Mondays each week): Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia).
Open June 1 through Sept. 1 (seven days per week): Marine Area 13 (South Sound).
Separate crab catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons, and crabbers are required to enter the harvest on their cards immediately after retaining crab. The Department’s enforcement arm monitors this rule rigorously.
Additional information on the Puget Sound crab fishery is available on the agency’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab.
Kids Saltwater Derby
The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island is putting on its annual Cama Beach Youth Fishing Derby on June 7 at the CWB on Camano Island (1880 S.W. Camano Drive). The event is free. It’s a state Department of Fish and Wildlife annual Free Fishing Day (no fishing licenses required), there will be no charge for parking in the state lot, and no Discover Pass will be required.
From 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. a shore fishing lesson will be offered, open to all skill levels. The official derby runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with prizes for longest and most fish in age brackets 7-and-under, 8-11, and 12-15. Row boats will be available at a discounted rate of $20 for the derby, and casting instruction will be available for novices. Preregistration is encouraged, but participants may also register from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the CWB Boathouse at Cama Beach. For more information, call Shane Bishop at 360-387-9361 or visit www.cwb.org.
Even if you’re not fishing, Washington State Parks Free Day is a great time to visit Cama Beach, the newest in the state park system. Beach cabins at the historic fishing resort have been restored and can be rented, as can boats at the CWB Boathouse, for fishing or crabbing. Enjoy the 6,000 feet of saltwater beach and its sweeping views of Saratoga Passage, Whidbey Island and the Olympic Mountains.
Walleye are spawning as Eastern Washington waters warm, and some of the best fishing of the year is available, according to Chad Jackson, state biologist at the agency’s Ephrata office. There’s very good walleye fishing at Potholes Reservoir, Moses Lake and Banks Lake, Jackson said, for fish going 15 to 20 inches. Most are scattered around the mouths of streams and wasteways.
If you want to drive that far, Jackson said Sprague Lake, halfway between Ritzville and Spokane, is hot for trout in the 14-inch range to the mid-20s, for shore anglers using bait and trollers pulling spoons, spinners and small plugs.
Potholes is also putting out some nice multipound trout for trollers off “Medicare Beach.” Jackson said the seep lakes below Potholes Reservoir are fishing well now, and will continue until hot weather cools the bite. MarDon Resort has fishing information and maps of the seep lakes. For more information, call 1-800-416-2736.
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.