SCANT NOTICE LED to slow going as halibut season opened Wednesday on an every-other-day schedule through June in Marine Areas 5-10.
Ocean halibut fishing in areas 1-4 remains closed for the foreseeable future.
Anglers had less than 36 hours from Monday’s announcement of halibut dates, so effort was light around the Strait and Puget Sound.
A number of flatfish were landed out west at Mason’s Resort in Sekiu, a 41-pounder and another good-sized but coming in via the Bonsell family.
It was wet and gray with some rough currents bouncing anglers about, but the rain was light and the winds were manageable until the afternoon.
Creel reports from Port Angeles showed no halibut (or lingcod) were landed by any anglers Wednesday.
Winds are expected to pick up even more today, so anglers should pay attention to the forecast and wait for a calmer day if at all possible. There’s no real need to gold rush to the banks and troughs this season, considering it runs through June.
This weekend will be a good test of social distancing guidelines as more out-of-area anglers head over for Memorial Day weekend, stay-at-home advisory or not.
So pack your hand sanitizer along with the pipe jigs when you head out the door.
Look for a spot shrimp season announcement soon as well. Final details were being nailed down as of Thursday afternoon, so conditions are beginning to look much better in the outdoors department.
Forest slowly re-opens
With some exceptions, Olympic National Forest day use areas and trailheads will reopen to the public today with no services available.
In the Pacific Ranger District (Forks), the Mount Mueller Trailhead and the Big Creek Trailhead will remain closed.
Big Creek Trailhead will reopen when the campground reopens. No timetable currently exists for the Mount Mueller Trailhead.
All other trails remain open to the public for use.
Users should expect no services — no restrooms will be open and no water or garbage services will be available.
Forest Service campgrounds will not be open this weekend. The Forest Service plans on opening campgrounds when counties move into Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, which is expected to be June 1.
Select campgrounds are expected to open in early June with more coming back to use as PPE and other resources are secured.
Dispersed camping on forest lands is allowed.
These camp sites should be set up at least a quarter mile away from developed recreation sites, and away from roads and trails and at least 200 feet from water sources.
Dispersed campers are advised to bury human waste at least 6 inches deep and 200 feet from any water sources.
Make sure all campfires are dead and cold to the touch before leaving.
And whatever you pack in, pack out.
For Olympic National Forest alerts and information, visit www.tinyurl.com/PDN-OlympicForest.
Lake Leland near Quilcene has received its annual spring trout plant. The lake received 3,006 smaller rainbows from the Eells Springs Hatchery near Shelton April 30. The Sol Duc Hatchery contributed another plant of 1,700 slightly larger rainbows May 6.
Those Sol Duc trout are likely holdovers from the unfortunately cancelled Forks Kids Fishing Day, which was set for May 7.
Razors return this fall
Fish and Wildlife clarified Wednesday that no additional razor clam harvest openings will occur until at least this fall.
The department said conflicting information in media reports and on various social media platforms has created some level of confusion.
Fish and Wildlife had been working with Grays Harbor and Pacific counties regarding the possibility of allowing some razor clam harvest before the season officially ends for a summer break May 31. But the governor’s office nixed that idea because the potential for large razor clam crowds conflicts with the edict to avoid large gatherings under the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which runs through May 31.
Coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres said his staffers will soon begin field work for summer-long razor clam population assessments in preparation for the 2020-21 season.
The non-treaty commercial coastal salmon troll fishery, usually a solid indicator of potential sport fishing success, is off to a sluggish start.
“It’s really slow and we’ve not seen many fish caught and weather has been a factor,” state Department of Fish and Wildlife coastal salmon manager Wendy Beeghly told the Outdoor Line radio show last Saturday.
That dovetails with what is lacking from satellite images along the coast of Washington and Oregon, said Quilcene’s Ward Norden, a former fisheries biologist and owner of Snapper Tackle Co.
Norden has been tracking deep ocean currents as those currents move much of the food supply on which young salmon feed.
“Those deep ocean currents … are completely absent from evidence on satellite images which is also very unusual,” Norden said. “There is also no upwelling on the Washington or Oregon Coast. I hope this changes in the next couple weeks or life will get very tough for plankton feeders in all our waters which includes coho, sockeye, chum and pink salmon smolts.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].