Tag Archives: dungeness crab

Yuasa Excited By July’s Westside Chinook, Crabbing Ops

Editor’s note: The following is Mark Yuasa’s monthly fishing newsletter, Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark, and is run with permission.

By Mark Yuasa, Director of Grow Boating Programs, Northwest Marine Trade Association

For salmon anglers, the thrill of a fish peeling line off the reel in July resembles a sugar rush, free-for-all in the candy store.

I’m hooked on that feeling and judging by the early signs we experienced last month in open salmon fishing areas, there’s enthusiasm in the air of what lies ahead from the coast clear into Puget Sound.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

I harken back to my early college days when summer was a three-month, job-free fishing affair with many fond memories created at a nearby lake, river or a marine area from Sekiu to Elliott Bay and many stops in between.

It was a great time when being young and willing to live on two hours of sleep just to be on the water by 4 a.m. and staying out until well after dark was simply a rite of passage. I confess it’s been more than three decades since those hey-days and while I can’t quite kick up the rpm’s like I did in the past, I still live for those glory moments.

A rush of early excitement occurred in June with the spotlight beaming brightly on south-central Puget Sound in the Tacoma area (Marine Catch Area 11), central Puget Sound (10) and the Tulalip Bubble Fishery (8-2) where fishing took off right when it opened.

“This early part of the summer reminds me of what we used to see in the good old days,” said Art Tachell, the manager of the Point Defiance Park Boathouse in Tacoma.

The catch estimates for south central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 11) since it reopened June 1 for salmon fishing are 756 fish retained under a catch quota of 5,344. Fishing action has been slow to fair for a mix of resident chinook, 5 to 8 pounds, and kings, 10 to 18 pounds, since the initial opener and the dogfish were thick off the Clay Banks at Point Defiance.

In Area 11, 448 boats with 718 anglers June 1-3 caught 242 hatchery-marked chinook and released 315 chinook for a total of 557 chinook encounters; and 1,042 boats with 1,520 anglers June 4-10 caught 512 hatchery-marked chinook and two unmarked chinook and released 666 hatchery-marked chinook for a total of 1,180 chinook encounters.

This year’s projection of 227,420 hatchery chinook migrating to Puget Sound is up 21 percent from the 10-year average and a 35 percent boost over last year.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca opened July 1 off Sekiu (5) for salmon, and Port Angeles opens July 3. Sekiu is the main intersection of fish runs heading east into Puget Sound and south to the Columbia River and beyond. In the past few years, Port Angeles has gotten off to a hot start and the hope is for another blissful season.

Many are licking their chops on what should be a “summer to remember” for hatchery kings in northern Puget Sound (9) and central Puget Sound (10).

The Area 9 summer hatchery king fishery has a 5,563 quota – which is a similar figure to the 2017 quota and up from 3,056 in 2016. Modeling by WDFW staff suggested this change would likely result in a shorter 2018 season given the forecast of increased hatchery chinook in the area.

“I’ll be happy if the Area 9 hatchery chinook fishery lasts two weeks,” said Mark Baltzell, a WDFW salmon manager. “It was lights out king fishing at Midchannel Bank (last summer) and that seems the place to be when it opens in July.”

Many will focus their time in late July and August in Area 10 that has a cap of 4,743 hatchery chinook.

Shore-bound anglers can get in on the action with numerous piers scattered across Puget Sound that are open year-round for salmon. The Edmonds Pier has already been producing fish since early-June. The steep drop-offs around the Point No Point Lighthouse offer an easy cast to prime fishing holes.

The San Juan Islands are open until July 31 for hatchery kings, and switches to wild and hatchery kings from Aug. 1 through Sept. 3.

Hood Canal south of Ayock Point is open through Sept. 30 with a liberal four-hatchery chinook daily limit. The forecast is 57,558 up from 48,300 in 2017 with many kings destined for the George Adams and Hoodsport hatcheries.

The coastal chinook and hatchery coho fishery got underway on June 23 at Ilwaco (1), La Push (3), and Neah Bay (4). Westport (2) opened July 1 where salmon fishing is allowed Sundays through Thursdays. All areas close Sept. 3 or when the quota is achieved.

“We’ve had some decent success rates up north for the commercial trollers in Area 4 (Neah Bay and La Push), but pretty scratchy fishing in other areas to the south,” said Wendy Beeghly, the head WDFW coastal salmon manager. “I’m expecting (the sport fishery) will start off a little slow, but we might find some fish up north in Area 4.”

Commercial trollers fishing off the coast since May reported the salmon are there one day and gone the next, according to Beeghly with nothing consistent and no huge schools of fish at this point.

“Based on what we forecasted for chinook returns this year we expect it to be a little slow this summer, but that doesn’t always indicate anything, and we will have to wait and see,” Beeghly said.

A downtrend in Columbia River salmon returns could result in mixed success for coastal anglers although “paper fish” forecasts have been proven wrong in the past, so watch for catch trends each week to see when’s a good time to go.

In between the Puget Sound salmon action, be sure to bring along the crab pots for a chance at some tasty Dungies!

Areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 12 are open through Sept. 3. Area 4 east of Bonilla-Tatoosh line and 5 are open through Sept. 3. Area 7 South opens July 14 through Sept. 30, and 7 North is open Aug. 16 through Sept. 30. Fishing is allowed Thursdays to Mondays of each week only (closed on July 4). Areas 11 and 13 are closed this summer due to a poor Dungeness crab abundance.

Lastly, some local rivers were bursting at the seams with kings and sockeye; and follow the trout plants in lakes at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

Summer Dungeness crabbing underway

The highly popular Dungeness crab season has started in many Puget Sound areas and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Neah Bay to Sekiu.

Don Velasquez, a WDFW Puget Sound shellfish manager says crabbing should be good this summer in marine waterways north of Seattle.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Fishing in open areas will be allowed Thursdays to Mondays of each week (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays). The crab fishery is closed on July 4. South-central and southern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 11 and 13) are closed this summer due to a poor Dungeness crab abundance.

The eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca around Port Angeles (6); Deception Pass (8-1); Port Susan/Everett (8-2); northern Puget Sound/Admiralty Inlet (9); central Puget Sound (10); and Hood Canal (12) are open through Sept. 3.

The western Strait of Juan de Fuca from Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary to Sekiu (4 and 5) are open through Sept. 3.

The San Juan Islands/Bellingham (7 South) are open July 14 through Sept. 30, and the San Juan Islands “Gulf of Georgia” (7 North) are open Aug. 16 through Sept. 30.

In all inland marine catch areas, the total Dungeness crab harvested in 2017 season was 9,285,912 pounds in all fisheries compared to 10,645,000 in 2016.

This comes on the heel of an all-time record catch in 2015 when state and tribal Puget Sound Dungeness crab fisheries landed 11.8 million pounds, exceeding the previous 2014 record by 1.2 million pounds.

General Puget Sound rules are crab pots may not set or pulled from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Crabbers must immediately write down their catch record cards after retaining Dungeness crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five male Dungeness crab in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches.

Fishermen may also keep six red rock crab of either sex daily, and each must measure at least 5 inches. For more information go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.

Word on NW Salmon Derby Series

Anglers start your motors! The PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby is July 13-15 and Big One Salmon Derby is July 25-29 at Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Those will be followed by the Brewster Salmon Derby on Aug. 2-5; South King County PSA Derby on Aug. 4; Gig Harbor PSA Derby on Aug. 11; and the Vancouver, B.C. Canada Chinook Classic on Aug. 18-19.

It’s also not too soon to start getting excited about coho in September. I’ve confirmed the PSA Edmonds Coho Derby is Sept. 8, and the biggest derby on West Coast – the Everett Coho Derby is Sept. 22-23.

That is where we’ll draw the lucky name to win a grand-prize $65,000 KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with Honda 150hp and 9.9hp motors on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer. It is fully rigged with Scotty downriggers, Raymarine electronics, a WhoDat Tower and a Dual Electronic Stereo. Details: www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.

Now it’s time for me to take that first bite of chewy goodness in a “PayDay” candy bar and bee-line out the door to see if I can score a fish or two. See you on the water!

Summer 2018 Puget Sound Crab Seasons Announced; No Crabbing Weds., July 4

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced Puget Sound summer crab-fishing seasons, which get underway June 16 with an opening in two marine areas.

MARINE AREA 8-2, WHERE LOGAN, CHAD, KYLE AND PAYSON HAULED THESE DUNGIES LAST YEAR, IS AMONG THE MARINE AREAS WHERE CRABBING SEASON WILL OPEN JUNE 30. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay – East of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and 5 (Sekiu) open for sport crabbing Saturday, June 16.  Many other areas of the Sound will open for recreational crab fishing on June 30, although two areas around the San Juan Islands open later in the summer to protect molting crab.

Summer seasons for the upcoming fishery are posted on WDFW’s crab-fishing website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/. The website includes details on fishing regulations, as well as an educational video on crabbing.

WDFW continues to monitor crab abundance throughout Puget Sound and manages crab fisheries to maintain healthy populations, said Bob Sizemore, shellfish policy lead for WDFW.

“Crabbing should be good again this year in several areas of Puget Sound,” he said.

Recreational crabbing will be open Thursdays through Mondays each week. Crabbing is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, which means crabbers should be aware that no sport crab fisheries will be open Wednesday, July 4. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Crab seasons are scheduled as follows:

  • Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), and 5 (Sekiu): Open June 16 through Sept. 3.
  • Marine areas 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 8-1 (Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan/Everett), 9 (Port Gamble and Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), and 12 (Hood Canal):  Open June 30 through Sept. 3.
  • Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): Open July 14 through Sept. 30.
  • Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Open Aug. 16 through Sept. 30.

The following areas are closed this season:

  • Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (south Puget Sound): These areas are closed to promote recovery of Dungeness crab populations in those areas. WDFW provided more information about the closure in a previous news release available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/may1018a/.

The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.

Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast, where crabbing is open year-round.

High Number Of Lost Crab Pots Off Anacortes Highlights Problem

When the boys and I go up to Anacortes to crab with writer Wayne Heinz and Lucie Fritz, Wayne will tell us that on the mid-July opener it’s as easy as putt-putting a couple hundred yards out of Cap Sante Marina and sending down baited pots.

In late summer, when we go, we have to run further out to find plentiful Dungeness and red rocks, but Wayne’s observation of how popular and productive these close-in waters are was really in evidence a couple weeks ago on Facebook.

(NORTHWEST STRAITS INITIATIVE)

The Northwest Straits Initiative Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Project posted a map that showed the locations of 614 lost crab pots from just outside the marina east into Padilla Bay and north towards the western tip of Samish Island.

Discovered by sidescanning sonar, nearly all of the pots were in depths of less than 60 feet.

Crews have since begun to haul these up — some unfortunately still fishing with dead crabs as bait — and that was the subject of a story last night on KOMO News.

“It’s probably about the highest density we’ve seen. It’s a quite a big number,” Jason Morgan of the Northwest Straits Foundation told reporter Michelle Esteban.

HIGH NUMBERS OF LOST CRAB POTS WERE FOUND IN THE WATERS OUTSIDE CAP SANTE MARINA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Morgan told her it’s a “perfect storm” of heavily trafficked waters — in addition to the marina, tankers deliver oil to the refinery and this is the northern end of the Swinomish Channel cutoff — strong tide swings through the islands and proximity to deeper waters.

No doubt that some pots are actually pilfered, but Esteban reports that crab cages are lost “mostly due to user-error — namely not weighting the pots, using the wrong line and unfamiliarity with tide and depth.”

When we go, before dropping pots, Wayne and Lucie keep a close eye on their Lowrance to note the depth and choose the right length of rope. They pick one that has plenty of scope to account for tide and current and thus will keep the pot on bottom while floating their oversized buoy. And then they put a waypoint on the map to return to.

WAYNE HEINZ AND RIVER WALGAMOTT SEND A CRAB POT INTO THE DEPTHS IN THE SAN JUANS. EXPERTS ADVISE USING LEADED ROPE, EXTRA LINE TO ACCOUNT FOR TIDES AND CURRENTS AND WEIGHTED POTS SO THAT IT’S LESS LIKELY POTS WILL BE LOST. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Yet as the old saying goes, stuff happens. WDFW reports that every year, crabbers lose 12,000 pots.

This is not to overlook the problem of derelict commercial gillnets. The Northwest Straits Initiative reports that at Point Roberts alone, “abandoned nets were destroying $437,000 worth of crab every season.”

But between all the lost pots just outside Anacortes and this summer’s closure at the other end of Puget Sound due to low numbers of Dungeness, it shows we need to be more careful with managing the fishery and how we’re fishing for them if we want to pass this tradition along to future generations.

A FULL POT IS A HAPPY POT, BUT A LOST POT CAN GO ON KILLING AS DEAD CRABS ATTRACT MORE CRABS THAT DIE AND ATTRACT MORE CRABS THAT … (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

To that end, the lost pot recoverers have kindly posted a series of videos with great tips on how to not only lose less gear but catch more crabs.

And if you do lose gear — again, stuff happens — or come across somebody else’s, there are no-fault reporting hotlines to call or enter locational information to make it easier to haul out of the depths so it doesn’t go on killing endlessly.

KIRAN WALGAMOTT SHOWS OFF A DRAWING OF A RED ROCK CRAB, WHICH HE LOVES TO TRY AND CATCH AS WELL AS EAT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Puget Sound Crab Season Begins June 16, With More Waters Opening June 24, July 1

Good news — Puget Sound crab season’s almost here!

Crabbers can begin dropping their pots in as little as a week and a half in three marine areas, with more openings in late June and the waters closest to major population centers fair game starting July 1. The two San Juans subareas are slated for midsummer openers.

RIVER WALGAMOTT HEAVES A CRAB BUOY OVERBOARD IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS LAST SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW posted the dates yesterday and a press release is due out soon.

According to manager Don Velasquez, this year’s recreational harvest might be a bit down from last year’s 2.062-million-pound catch, and the cold spring could have some crabs still in soft-shell condition early in the season, but there will be plenty of Dungies and red rockies for summer feasts.

“If you want Dungeness crab, stay north of Seattle,” tips Velasquez.

ONE OF THE EDITOR’S SONS REACHES INTO AN INSANELY OVERLOADED-WITH-KEEPERS POT HAULED UP IN THE SAN JUANS LAST YEAR. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Though smaller, red rocks dominate in the South Sound.

“There are plenty there,” Velasquez adds.

That’s especially true in Area 13, where this year’s opener has been moved back from June 1 to July 1.

The other notable change is Hood Canal’s season begins a week later, June 24, compared to mid-June last year.

Other than that, 2017’s summer season will be similar to 2016, says Velasquez.

Crabbing is open Thursdays through Mondays, and the daily limit is five male Dungeness at least 6.25 inches across the carapace and they must be in hard-shell form.

For red rocks, either sex can be kept, and they must be 5 inches across the back.

For most waters, season will run through Sept. 4.

THE WALGAMOTTLINGS MEASURE A SAN JUAN ISLANDS DUNGENESS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

According to WDFW’s scheduled 2017 seasons, here are opener dates:

JUNE 16
Area 4, western Strait of Juan de Fuca east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line
Area 5, Sekiu
Area 11, Tacoma

JUNE 24
Area 9 — Port Gamble/Port Ludlow subarea
Area 12, Hood Canal

JULY 1
Area 6, Port Angeles, Sequim, Disco Bay
Area 8-1: Deception Pass, Skagit Bay, waters between Whidbey and Camano Islands
Area 8-2: Everett, Port Gardner
Area 9: Admiralty Inlet, Port Townsend, Edmonds
Area 10: Seattle, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island
Area 13: South Sound, Olympia

JULY 15
Area 7-South: San Juan Islands south of Patos and Lummi Islands

AUGUST 17
Area 7-North: Boundary Bay and waters north of Patos and Lummi Islands