By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
Winter blackmouth season gets underway in local saltwater on Saturday with the opening of Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 to the retention of chinook, and All Star Charters owner/skipper Gary Krein said the outlook is pretty good.
“Possession Bar put out a lot of blackmouth last November,” Krein said, “and fishermen looking for late coho and early chums this fall have been releasing good numbers of chinook.”
Possession likely will be the top spot this weekend, Krein said. He likes the west side of the bar on an incoming tide and the east side on the ebb. Both tide situations will be available to anglers this weekend during fishing hours.
A word of caution, though: The bar is open to prevailing southerlies and becomes unfishable in winds much over 15 knots. If that happens, Krein suggests trying Point No Point, which usually holds blackmouth and is somewhat sheltered from the wind. Double Bluff makes up the third point in the salmon-productive “Area 9 triangle,” and it can be a sleeper when conditions are right.
Traditionally, Krein said, areas 8-1 and 8-2 (Possession Sound and Saratoga Passage) tend to put out fewer but larger blackmouth during the winter season.
The most popular blackmouth gear includes flasher/spoons or flasher/squid, Krein said. Coho Killer and Kingfisher Lite spoons are good, in black/white “cop car” or various shades of green, and the green spatterback squid is always a dependable choice.
Krein said he likes plugs when there’s a lot of bait in the area, often going with 5-inch Tomics in mother of pearl.
Learn to spey cast
Expert spey casting instructor Mike Kinney will be at Cabela’s Tulalip at 11 a.m. Saturday for a free, hands-on presentation based on 20 years experience. Both beginning and experienced fly fishermen are invited but space is limited. Call in advance (360-474-4880). A selection of spey and switch rods will be available.
Why plant Silver Lake?
Mike Vincent e-mailed, wondering why the state Fish and Wildlife Department planted 2,200 one-pound rainbows in Silver Lake last month, while neglecting Lake Goodwin.
“Silver Lake doesn’t have a public boat launch, and there is no parking even close to most of the shore fishing access,” he said. “That means those trout are basically of benefit to the few homes on the lake.”
Lake Goodwin, he said, would have been a better choice, with a good public launch ramp, toilets and parking, but records show the last plant in Goodwin was last December.
Justin Spinelli, a Fish and Wildlife Department biologist in the agency’s Mill Creek office, made the decision and said the plant of “jumbo” rainbows was in accordance with a new “winter trout” program. The program is aimed at urban populations, on lakes of the right size to provide “instant fishing” after a plant of at least 20 trout per surface acre (size of plants are limited by available funding), with good public access.
Some would argue that access to Silver Lake is less than good. Spinelli responds that the lake is the right size, available to an urban population, and that he has personally seen anglers using the shoreline and piers, and carrying cartoppers and kayaks through the city park on the west side of the lake. Not ideal, he says, but workable.
Lake Goodwin, on the other hand, is simply too large. The money just isn’t there, Spinelli says, to put enough large rainbows in Goodwin to provide a viable winter fishery.
To complicate the issue, the timing on the last plants in Goodwin was, for whatever reason, poor. The lake receives small rainbow and cutthroat “subcatchables” in the fall, and even smaller fry in the spring. Those fish are supposed to supply a legal-size summer trout fishery as they mature, but last year’s plant didn’t hit the water until December. impacting this last summer’s fishery.
“Admittedly, Lake Goodwin provided slower than normal trout fishing this summer,” Spinelli said. “I monitored the electronic fishing media and there were few reports of good trips to Goodwin. This year, we got our fish in the lake during the first week of October, so next summer’s trout should be larger.”
All of this involves limited money available to raise, feed, and transport trout of various sizes, and also limited hatchery space. Spinelli said the program is in the trial stage, and that it’s possible other (better?) lakes will be tried. Flowing Lake, north of Monroe, may be included, but would seem to be farther from an urban center than the winter trout program envisions.
Razor clam dig
An eight-day razor clam dig that could turn out to be the best of this winter season starts tomorrow and runs through Nov. 8 on certain coastal beaches. State Fish and Wildlife Department razor clam manager Dan Ayres said good minus tides and strong clam populations suggest diggers should do very well — if the weather cooperates.
Tides are as follows: Friday, minus 0.1 feet at 5:52 p.m., Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Saturday, minus 0.6 feet at 6:36 p.m., all beaches except Kalaloch; Sunday, minus 1.1 feet at 6:16 p.m., Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Monday, minus 1.3 feet at 6:59 p.m., Long Beach, Twin Harbors, and Mocrocks; Tuesday, minus 1.3 feet at 7:45 p.m., Long Beach and Twin Harbors; Wednesday, minus 1.2 feet at 8:33 p.m., Twin Harbors only; Nov. 7, minus 1.2 feet at 9:24 p.m., Twin Harbors only; and Nov. 8, minus 0.3 feet at 10:19 p.m., Twin Harbors only.
Ayres said the best digging typically occurs one to two hours before low tide.
“Getting to the beach early should allow diggers to harvest clams before darkness sets in, at least for the first four or five days of the dig,” he said. “But being prepared for darkness is always a good idea. Bring a lantern, which is much more effective for spotting clams than the direct beam of a flashlight.”
For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.