Once the excitement of opening gifts has passed, the two-week Christmas/New Year’s break sometimes begins to wear on school-age kids. They get bored. They get whiny. They get crazy.
So get ‘em off your case. Take ‘em fishing.
Mark Spada, president of the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club (part of the coalition that earlier this year brought you the highly successful plants of big triploid rainbows in Blackman’s Lake and other local waters) said his group recently stocked North Gissberg Pond with about 1,000 fat and sassy hatchery rainbow trout, and those fish are just waiting to bend a rod and please a kid. The lake is the northernmost of the two ponds immediately adjacent to Interstate-5 at Smokey Point. It was designated this year by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife as a juveniles-only fishery.
The plant consisted of fish between 13 inches and 3 pounds, Spada said.
The lake is an ideal one for young anglers – easy to access, a relatively clean bottom, lots of room to run, and with toilet facilities nearby. Don’t have tackle, or don’t know how to rig up? Any of the tackle shops in the area will be more than happy to show you the basics. Look in the Yellow Pages for the one closest to you.
Or, rig as follows: Slide a quarter-ounce slip sinker up your main line (4- or 6-pound test), then keep it there by tying a small swivel to the end of your line. To the other end of the swivel, tie 24 to 36 inches of 2- or 4-pound test leader. To the end of the leader, tie a No. 10 worm hook. Bait with Power Bait of most any color (pink and chartreuse are popular) to float it above the bottom mud and weed growth, toss it out there 20 or 30 feet, and prop the rod up on a rock, stick, or something similar, leaving a little slack in the line as a “strike indicator” and you’re in business.
To get to Gissberg Ponds from Everett, go north on I-5, take the Smokey Point exit (206), turn left over the freeway and drive west, past the small business district. Take the first road to the left, south; another left at the “T”, and follow to the ponds.
Local salmon: The only winter blackmouth action available locally right now is in Marine Area 10, south of a line from Point Wells at Edmonds to Apple Cove Point north of Kingston. Fishing since the closure of Area 9 has pretty much been a continuation of the first half of the winter season – at least fair for legal chinook, but with a multitude of sublegal “shakers” to fight through. Creel checks at the Edmonds sling on Saturday showed five anglers with two blackmouth.
Gary Krein, owner-skipper of All Star Charters in Everett, said he’s been doing pretty well fishing the Kingston area and occasionally running on south to Jefferson Head.
Kingston has been the most consistent, he said, especially on an outgoing tide. He trolls all the way from Apple Cove Point, around the tip of the sand bar to the south, and back into Kingston, working the bottom 20 feet in 90 to 150 feet of water. A flasher/Coyote spoon (in red racer, two-tone green, or cop car patterns) combo has worked well for him, along with a 4- or 5-inch Tomic plug in glow white. A third choice, he said, would be a flasher followed by a dark green spatterback squid.
Waterfowl: Without snow and cold to force local duck populations to feed early and often, hunters have had to depend on windy days to push the birds off the big water. And since we’ve had a fair amount of wind, and because Samish Bay in particular is carrying substantial duck numbers, shooting has been pretty fair from time to time on the north side of the Skagit delta. Bob Ferber at Holiday Market Sports in Burlington said the windier days also have produced good results for snow goose hunters on Fir Island and its edges.
Smelt: After a short down cycle, jigging at the Oak Harbor Marina is producing smelt again, with high tide providing the best action.
And smelt managers for the Washington and Oregon departments of fish and wildlife have set seasons for eulachon on the lower Columbia and its tributaries, including the Cowlitz. The outlook for the 2005 run is “uncertain,” according to biologists’ opinions, so the two states set a relatively conservative season on the tribs – Jan. 1 through March 31, Tuesdays and Saturdays only, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a daily limit of 10 pounds per person.
The 2002 run, which included the parents of this year’s returning fish, was the largest return since 1993, boosting hopes for 2005. But last year’s Cowlitz run didn’t live up to expectations, leading biologists to surmise that ocean survival conditions have become less favorable. Also, fewer numbers are being seen by shrimpers working off the west coast of Vancouver Island than ordinarily would be seen during a large run, biologists said.
Steelhead: Lousy weather has prevented steelheaders from getting any sort of realistic handle on the strength of this winter’s run. A scattering of fish has been taken from almost all the local streams, between storm fronts, but not enough to give either a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The Forks-area streams remain the best of the lot, while checks on the Cowlitz last week (poor water conditions, admittedly) didn’t raise anyone’s blood pressure. Some 37 anglers at the barrier dam were tallied with five steelhead; 20 at Blue Creek had two fish; and 51 boaters at Blue Creek had 13.
The Kalama has been reasonably productive. An indication is that last week hatchery personnel “recycled” 162 fish from the hatchery traps back down to the BHP launch on the lower river.
The westside Whidbey beaches have produced a few steelies when the wind wasn’t howling, and the Reiter Ponds area on the Skykomish is at least a fair prospect most days.
Oysters: For some reason, winter always seems to be the time to go oyster gathering on Hood Canal, and the state has decided that one of the most productive beaches on the canal – Dosewallips State Park – is carrying enough oysters to warrant a year-around season, starting Jan. 1.
You don’t end up with a whole lot of meat after shucking a limit of the small, native oysters, but it’s a relatively simple activity, you don’t need minus tides, and the critters are fresher and sweeter than anything else you’ve tasted.
Sturgeon seasons for 2005 have been set for the Columbia River: On the lower end, including areas fished by charters out of Ilwaco: Jan. 1-April 30, retention allowed seven days a week, 42 to 60 inches; May 1-May 13, retention closed; May 14-July 4, retention allowed seven days a week, 45 to 60 inches; and July 5-Dec. 31, retention closed.
From Bonneville Dam down to the Wauna power lines: Jan. 1-July 31, retention allowed Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only, 42 to 60 inches; Aug. 1-Sept. 30, retention closed; and Oct. 1-Dec. 31, retention allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only, 42 to 60 inches.