Shrimping was probably the top draw Saturday as gorgeous spring weather and three major fisheries combined to pull big numbers of local saltwater fishermen out of the woodwork.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shrimp manager Mark O’Toole said the crowd was probably larger than last year’s record opener for spot shrimp, and the catch was very good.
“We don’t have all the numbers yet, but it will probably work out that the catch per boat average on Saturday was slightly below that of last year,” O’Toole said. “It’s going to be pretty close, however.”
The highest catch averages in the general area were in Elliott Bay, he said. The Edmonds and Everett areas were good, as was Saratoga Passage.
Wednesday was the second day of the two-day local spot shrimp fishery, and results were too late for this column. On Wednesday morning, however, O’Toole said additional days locally were in jeopardy because of the big Saturday fleet, and a Wednesday turnout also heavy for mid-week.
“Marine Area 9 will not reopen,” he said. “It will be over quota. Areas 8-1 and 8-2 will be close, and we won’t know until we work all the data … . The announcement will be posted either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.”
The site is www.wdfw.wa.gov/shellfish.
O’Toole said that if one more day is possible in 8-1 and/or 8-2, it would most likely be Wednesday, the 22nd, in order to give shrimpers enough advance warning.
The local halibut opener was pretty much on a par with the past two years, according to Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sports Center in Lynnwood.
“It wasn’t bad fishing,” Chamberlain said. “One pair of customers fished the Fort Casey area and took 2 fish of about 60 pounds each. Another group out of Port Townsend had 5 halibut in three days of fishing, and a third group boated fish of 60, 50 and 35 pounds.”
He said there were probably 25 boats fishing Mutiny Bay on Saturday, and he estimated they caught about 15 fish. That’s not a bad percentage, as halibut fishing goes.
“Numbers-wise it’s been okay,” Chamberlain said, “but I haven’t heard of anyone landing one of the really big, 100-pound-plus guys.”
Ron Garner, president of both the Sno-King Chapter and state board of Puget Sound Anglers and an avid halibut fisherman, said the bars on the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca hosted very heavy boat traffic on Saturday, in a dead calm. He reported talking to an angler who took a jumbo 171-pounder on Partridge Bank.
“In general, it sounded like the better fishing was west rather than east,” he said, “so the fish are probably starting to move (west) already.”
Farther north, Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington said reports indicated top halibut fishing on the opener.
“I can honestly say I heard of good results from every single spot you would expect halibut to be taken,” he said. “The reports were very good, and WDFW checks verified excellent fishing. If I had to mention a couple of the better spots, I would probably tap Hein and Middle banks.”
The local lingcod season opened May 1, but the weather and the weekend upped the pressure on lings.
In the San Juan Islands, action was pretty good over the weekend, Kevin John said, despite only mediocre tides. Some of the better spots within short running distance of the Anacortes area, he said, included Burrows and Allen islands, and Williamson Rocks. The south end of Lopez Island is also popular, he said, particularly for combo trips on legal shrimp days. A little farther out, Peapod Rocks and the whole north end of Orcas Island are favorites.
The majority of ling fishermen in the islands opt for herring as a bait choice, John said, at least blue label size, or larger.
State checks at the Cornet Bay public ramp on Saturday showed 223 anglers with 22 lings, 26 halibut, and 2 cabezon. At the Washington Park ramp west of Anacortes, it was 109 fishermen with 31 lings, 10 halibut and 3 cabezon.
On the Strait, it was 303 anglers Saturday at the Ediz Hook Port Angeles public ramp with 77 halibut. At the Port of Everett ramp on Saturday, 97 fishermen had 7 lings and 4 halibut.
Another outdoor retail giant
Bass Pro Shops will go head-to-head with Cabela’s starting roughly a year from now, as the Springfield, Missouri-based outdoor retailer opens its first Northwest outlet in early summer of 2014. The 170,000 square foot store will sit at the intersection of I-5 and 72nd Street in Tacoma, and will join the firm’s list of 77 stores and Tracker Marine Centers in 26 states and Canada.
In addition to fishing and hunting gear, Bass Pro stores offer equipment and clothing for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, camping, outdoor cooking and more. A gift and nature center will offer a wide variety of outdoor-themed items from lamps and dishes to bird feeders and furniture. Their boat showroom will feature Tracker, Nitro, Sun Tracker, Tahoe, Grizzly and Mako boats, built by Tracker Marine Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of fishing boats.
Like Cabela’s, Bass Pro stores show a visually appealing indoor and outdoor motif of massive log and rock work, aquariums and water features stocked with native fish species and an extensive collection of museum-quality fish and wildlife mounts. Historic photos and exhibits will pay tribute to this region’s great outdoor heritage.
For more information on Bass Pro products or special events, go to www.basspro.com. To request a free catalog, call 1-800-bass-pro.
The Washington Brant Foundation holds its annual Puget Sound Working Decoy Carving Competition from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Holiday Sports in Burlington. The fundraiser also features a live auction, raffles for guns and prints, kids’ activities and lots of art and antique decoys on display. For more information on the carving competiton, call Kurt Benson at 425-231-6497, or visit the group’s website at www.wabrant.org. For directions to Holiday Sports, call 360-757-4361.
An ongoing coastal razor clam dig to havest available clams at Twin Harbors and Long Beach continues as follows: Friday, May 10, at Twin Harbors and Long Beach, minus 0.9 feet at 7:37 a.m.; Saturday, at Twin Harbors and Long Beach, minus 0.8 feet at 8:12 a.m.; Sunday, Twin Harbors only, minus 0.7 feet at 8:48 a.m.; Monday, Twin Harbors, minus 0.5 feet at 9:23 a.m.; and Tuesday, Twin Harbors, minus 0.2 feet at 10:01 a.m.
State biologist Dan Ayres asks diggers to avoid disturbing western snowy plovers; small, white birds listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The birds nest in dry sand on the state’s coastal beaches from April through August and are extremely vulnerable. Nesting areas are signed, Ayres said.