By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
The first spring chinook of the year was sampled by creel checkers last week on the lower Columbia, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver, big news for those who follow one of the state’s most popular fisheries.
There won’t be any 30-pound “springers” caught in the small, local Hot Plug’s Salmon Derby Saturday, in marine areas 8-1 and 8-2, Saratoga Passage, but somewhere around 80 enthusiastic anglers will make the 27th running of the event, based in Stanwood, an enjoyable day on the water. Organizer Ed Keller, 425-308-9437, said tickets are $50, available until 2 p.m. Friday, at the Stanwood Eagles, Elger Bay Grocery, Camano Marine, Holiday Sports, John’s Sporting Goods, and Ted’s Sport Center. First place wins 50 percent of total entry fees ($1,400 last year; second, 20 percent; third, 15 percent; and fourth, 10 percent.
Last year’s winning blackmouth weighed 11 pounds, 4 ounces, Keller said, and was caught off the north end of Camano Island.
All Star Charters owner Gary Krein of Everett said Camano State Park is about the center of productive water in the two marine areas.
“There should be blackmouth available in all the usual spots,” Krein said. “Onomac, Ole’s Hole, Baby Island, Green Bank and Elger Bay. A friend has been fishing the Greenbank/Baby Island/Onomac triangle regularly this winter and just sent me a photo of a nice 15-plus-pounder he put in the boat.”
He said fishermen can often find bait along the Whidbey shoreline from Oak Harbor down to Holmes Harbor, with Ole’s Hole as about the mid-point
Krein likes a flasher-spoon rig; a 3 1/2 or 4-inch Kingfisher Lite in yellowtail or white lightning patterns.
In that area, he said, fish are not necessarily down on the deck, but can also be found suspended in water as shallow as 50 to 60 feet. That makes water from 50 feet to 150 feet deep always a possibility, with a traditional rule of thumb of 50 to 60 feet down over 150 feet of water worth a try.
The Cabela’s Tulalip store hosts Cabela’s Spring Great Outdoor Days and Captains Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. both days. Free events will be open to the whole family: kids’ fishing pond and fish fry on Saturday, live music by The Bobbers, fly tying demos, free seminars by local fishing experts, in-store boat show, backyard bass, gold panning, and more.
The seminar schedule is as follows:
Saturday, March 2: 10 a.m., beginning trout fishing by Dennis Dickson; 11 a.m., fly casting for ladies by the Evergreen Fly Fishing Club; noon, successful salmon fishing on the Washington coast by Mike Jamboretz; 1 p.m., kokanee fishing techniques by Doug Saint-Denis; 2 p.m., Puget Sound lingcod tactics by Nick Kester; 3 p.m., spring chinook fishing by Jim and Jennifer Stahl; and 4 p.m., navigation for hikers, presented by Chris Chisolm, navigation specialist.
Sunday, March 3: 11 a.m., fly tying, patterns for spring by the Evergreen Fly Fishing Club; 1 p.m., spring chinook methods that work, by Gary Krein; 2 p.m., gold fever by the Gold N Gem Prospecting Club; 3 p.m., hauling in the halibut by Mike Jamboretz; and 4 p.m., advanced trout fishing by Jim and Jennifer Stahl.
For more information about the free seminars, visit www.cabelas.com.
Waterfowl For Women
Washington Outdoor Women once again offers a one-day “learn waterfowling” event for women 18 and older, March 23, in duck hunting terrain near Monroe. The whole day is actually in the field said Ronni McGlenn, longtime WOW program organizer, learning waterfowl conservation, duck calling, shotgun shooting at moving clay targets, protocol in the blind, dog work, setting decoys, cleaning a duck and then tasting same.
For more information, go to the group’s website, www.washingtonoutdoorwomen, or call McGlenn at 425-455-1986.
Arguably the top event in a bass fisherman’s world, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic was won last weekend by Mississippian Cliff Pace, a 32-year old who tamed Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees and found himself half a million wealthier. Pace nailed a three-day total of 54 pounds, 12 ounces for 14 fish, one shy of the 15-fish limit, to walk off with the $500,000 first prize money.
Slightly unusual, since the major competitive bass tourneys are dominated by fishermen from below the Mason Dixon line, was the second-place finish by a northwesterner — Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, at 51 pounds, 8 ounces. Third went to Hank Cherry of Maiden, North Carolina, at 49-0.
Lousy weather dogged the Classic competitors and snow, rain and below-freezing temps made for difficult fishing conditions. Pace said his winning lures were Jackall jerkbaits — a Squad Minnow and a Soul Shad — and a Jackall DD Cherry crankbait in crawdad colors. He also tried a football jig with twin tail trailer in green pumpkin, modified by dipping the trailer’s pastic tails in orange dye for more visibility in the dark water.
WDFW has reopened the Methow River, effective March 1, to steelheaders and whitefish anglers, from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch in Winthrop. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing (1 mile above the mouth) to the first Hwy 153 bridge (4 miles above the mouth).
Reason for the reopening is to harvest more hatchery steelhead in order to reduce impacts on wild fish, according to Jeff Korth, WDFW Region 2 fish program manager in Ephrata.