The Friday Harbor Salmon Classic hits the water Feb. 9-10, and becomes the third derby in the San Juan Islands so far this year to sell out well before derby day. Coordinator Jim Lawson said his last ticket went over the counter in early January, and that he is keeping a waiting list
If you’re interested, act fast and call Lawson at 360-317-4766, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is fridayharborsalmonclassic.com, and the paperwork can be done online.
Lawson said fishing has been good and that blackmouth are scattered throughout the area. A couple of the better spots might be along Rosario Strait and the upper part of Lopez Island, he says.
The Friday Harbor Salmon Classic is a part of the Northwest Salmon Derby Series, so participants are eligible for the drawing at the end of the year to win the grand prize, $60,000 boat/motor/trailer package put up by the Northwest Marine Trade Association.
Meanwhile, the Roche Harbor Winter Salmon Classic was held, with a full house, on Jan. 18-20. The first-place prize of $10,000 went to Robert Enselman of Stanwood, with a chinook of 17 pounds, 11 ounces. For comparison, last year’s number one blackmouth weighed 18 pounds, 12 ounces.
Second place went to Larry Surdyk, at 15-15, and third to Dustin Walker, at 14-10.
Best boat weight went to Michael Beard and crew at 41-15.
A total of 357 anglers fished the derby, a record attendance for the event, and they weighed in 179 chinook.
Marine Area 7, the San Juan Islands, is scheduled to stay open through April, but Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington says he thinks it should hold through March, at least. Fishing has been pretty good, even though blackmouth have been small.
“The majority of the fish we’re seeing have been under 7 pounds,” John says.
The regular island fishermen generally prefer bait, but John says spoons have been doing well. There’s a lot of shrimp in the area as well, he says, and some fishermen are going with shrimp imitations such as a 2-inch pink or orange hoochie behind a chartreuse glow flasher. John recommends Parker Reef and the Lopez area as good bets.
Joe Stohr, who has served as deputy director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for more than 10 years, has been named the agency’s acting director.
During a conference call Feb. 2, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission selected Stohr, 61, to take the position Feb. 8, replacing Dr. Jim Unsworth who resigned last week after serving three years as director of the department.
The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW, will initiate a national search for a permanent director, according to commission chair Brad Smith.
A longtime resident of Olympia and career public agency manager, Stohr has worked in the past with the state departments of Ecology, and Health.
Tom Nelson of Tulalip, host of The Outdoor Line Saturday mornings on ESPN radio, 710 AM and a knowledgeable observer of the outdoor scene, says he thinks Stohr is a good choice.
“He seems to have the respect of the department personnel, and was voted in unanimously by the commission,” Nelson says. “I think he’ll be a good guy to mind the store, and with the commission ready to move to the fore in the upcoming North of Falcon salmon season setting process, you couldn’t find a better choice.”
Stohr is almost an unknown name in the outdoor community, but Nelson thinks that may be a positive.
“He’s like an offensive lineman,” Nelson says. “If he’s not in the news, that’s good news.”
Joe Hymer, WDFW biologist in Vancouver says the first “springer” of the season to pass Bonneville Dam on Jan. 2 (and another on Jan. 8) was probably a late fall chinook.
“According to the records, the first consistent movement of spring chinook upriver occurs one side or the other of March 1,” Hymer says.
The forecast this year is for 167,000 springers in the upriver component of the run, which would be about 90 percent of the 10-year average.
“That sounds pretty good,” Hymer says, “but we had a similar forecast last year and ended up with only 117,000 fish, about 72 percent of the average.”
Hunt season proposals
WDFW is soliciting public input on proposed recommendations for the 2018-20 hunting seasons. The agency will accept comments from the public through Feb. 14 to help finalize proposed hunt season regs for hunts which begin this year. To review and comment on the proposals, visit the department’s website https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/.
Black bear deadline
Feb. 28 is the deadline for hunters to submit their spring black bear special hunt applications to WDFW. Applications are entered into a drawing in mid-March for 272 permits in western Washington and 509 permits on the eastside. Winners will be notified no later than March 31.
More information about hunts scheduled on both sides of the state is available on the WDFW website https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/spring_bear/.