Tag Archives: dungeness crabs

Crabbing Reopens Today In Straits, North Sound

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

Several marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing on Oct. 1, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced.

The openings were approved by fishery managers after summer catch assessments by WDFW indicated additional crab are available for harvest during the late season.

PUGET SOUND AND STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA CRABBERS CAN HEAD BACK OUT SEVEN DAYS A WEEK STARTING OCT. 1, WDFW ANNOUNCED SEPT. 30. KIRAN WALGAMOTT SHOWS OFF ONE OF SEVERAL DUNGIES HE HAULED OUT OF THE WATERS OFF ANACORTES DURING THE SUMMER SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardiner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Sport crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Sport crabbing will not reopen for winter in marine areas 10 (Seattle Bremerton), 11 (Vashon Island), and 13 (South Puget Sound). It is still uncertain whether portions of marine areas 9 (Port Gamble/Port Ludlow) and 12 (Hood Canal – North of Ayock Point) will open for a shortened winter season. WDFW expects to announce a decision in the future on whether these areas will reopen.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches, and six Tanner crab of either sex with a minimum carapace of 4 1/2 inches. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab.

You must have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement to harvest Dungeness crab from Puget Sound. All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season recreational fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter catch record cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state.

Winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb.1, 2020.  For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/fishing/catch-record-card/dungeness.

ODFW Commission OKs Blacktail Spike Harvest Starting In 2020

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

The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted 2020 Big Game Regulations at its meeting in Gold Beach.

Next year, the Western Oregon deer bag limit will allow for spike harvest with the new bag limit of “one buck with a visible antler.” A new General Season Antlerless Elk Damage Tag in areas of the state with high elk damage will replace 19 controlled hunts and the need to provide damage tags to landowners. Hunters taking advantage of this new opportunity would still need permission to hunt on private land to use the tag and it would be their only elk hunting opportunity.

OREGON BLACKTAIL HUNTERS WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE SPIKE BLACKTAILS STARTING WITH THE 2020 GENERAL FALL DEER HUNTING SEASON. ODFW CALLED THE CURRENT RULE RESTRICTING THE BAG TO FORKED-HORN BUCKS A “RELIC” FROM AN ERA OF HIGH ANTLERLESS PERMITS AND EXPECTS THE CHANGE NEXT YEAR WILL INCREASE HARVEST.  ALLISON GRINDLEY TOOK THIS WASHINGTON SPIKE SEVERAL SEASONS AGO. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

The Commission also directed staff to form a workgroup to continue the big game hunting season and regulations review.

The Commission approved funding for one Access and Habitat project, which provides hunting access on private land.

Changes to fixed gear fisheries regulations, including those for both commercial and recreational crabbing, were adopted to address challenges presented by changing ocean conditions including increased incidence of whale entanglements. Gear marking of surface buoys will be required of all fisheries that do not already do so beginning Jan. 1, 2020, including recreational crabbers and commercial fixed gear fisheries such as commercial bay crab. New buoy color registration requirements for the commercial ocean crab fishery will also be required.

To prepare for future phases of rule-making to reduce the risk of whale entanglements, the Commission set Aug. 14, 2018 as the control date for potential development of future limitation on participation in commercial crabbing during months when whales are most abundant.

The Commission also adopted regulations related to Harmful Algal Bloom biotoxin management (particularly domoic acid) in the commercial crab fishery and the commercial ocean Dungeness crab fishery season opening process.

ODFW will host a series of public meetings for the commercial ocean Dungeness crab fishery on possible future regulatory measures to reduce whale entanglements this October. Meetings will be held in Coos Bay (Oct. 17), Brookings (Oct. 18), Astoria (Oct. 22) and Newport (Oct. 23). More details about the meetings including locations will be available later in September.

Finally, the Commission voted 4-3 to change rules related to the hunting and trapping of Coastal marten. The new rules prohibit any marten harvest west of I-5 and also ban all trapping in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area as well as suspending traps or snares in trees in the Siskiyou and Siuslaw National Forests. The rules are in response to a petition for rulemaking from several environmental groups last year. Coastal martens are a subspecies of Pacific marten with a historical range located west of I-5 and more specifically from Lincoln and Benton counties south to Curry County.

The Commission is the rule-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. Its next meeting is Oct. 10-11 in Ontario

From Salmon To Perch To Crab To Derbies, August Has Lotsa Ops: Yuasa

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

In the blink of an eye, summer has shifted past the midway point but that doesn’t necessarily mean anglers should throw shade on late-season fishing opportunities.

In fact, the horizon looks very bright in August when salmon fisheries come into play at Buoy 10 near the Columbia River mouth, Willapa Bay, inner- Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Freshwater fish seekers also can set their sights on abundant yellow perch in many statewide lakes!

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

First off, the pink – a salmon that returns mainly during odd-numbered years and often referred to as “humpies” for a distinct hump that grows on their back near spawning time – forecast is a paltry 608,388 which could be among the lowest runs on record dating back to 1959. Returns soared above 1 million in 2001 and peaked at more than 10 million in 2009. The strong pace continued when it hit 6-plus million in 2011, more than 8 million in 2013 and dipped to 4 million in 2015.

In 2015, the pinks went from bloom to gloom as they faced a monumental drought period and extremely warm water temperatures in rivers. Winter flooding followed leaving very few young pinks to make it out to the ocean where they eventually ran into “The Blob” a large mass of warm water that wreaked havoc on sea life.

That lead to a dismal 2017 with an actual return of around 511,000 (1.1 million was forecasted) pinks, which was less than 82 percent the historical 10-year average.

While the pink forecast is conservative – this summer’s unexpected strong return of chinook and coho – we just might see a late fourth quarter comeback for humpies too. In fact, some early pinks began showing up in catches back in July so don’t give up on them just yet.
“There have been a lot of pinks caught (at Neah Bay and La Push) and many of them are nice size fish,” said Wendy Beeghley, the WDFW coastal salmon manager.

An unexpected large return of pinks were also showing up in other places like Sekiu, outside of the Freshwater Bay closure zone and in open areas off Port Angeles in the Strait of Juan de Fuca as well as the San Juan Islands (which closed Aug. 1 for salmon fishing).
The Puget Sound pink run usually peaks in mid-August, and in southern Puget Sound the last week of August and early September are best.

Pinks aren’t the only game and so far, the coho and hatchery king fisheries have been a pleasant surprise from the coast clear into open areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The party lights began flashing for coho in June when places like central Puget Sound (Area 10) reopened for off-the-charts good action on resident coho. Then good king action began happening last month in the San Juan Islands (now closed to fishing in August), Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Tulalip bubble fishery and south-central Puget Sound.

It was the same scenario in the ocean when catches ramped up in late June from Neah Bay south to Ilwaco and have remained good this past month. Most of this is likely related to a strong forecast of 1,009,600 coho to the Columbia River compared to a 2018 forecast of 349,000.

Look for coho success in open areas of Puget Sound and Strait to only get better in August and build to a crescendo in September. In Puget Sound the total coho return for 2019 is 670,159, which is up from last year’s 557,149.

There will be a short inner-Elliott Bay king fishery from Aug. 2-5 and additional days may occur if in-season data shows the run to be stronger than expected. That won’t be the only crowning moment as areas from Whidbey Island south to Olympia have seen an uptick in catches of hatchery kings and should see good fishing this month in places that remain open.

WDFW extended the hatchery king salmon fishery in northern Puget Sound (Area 9), which is open through Saturday (Aug. 3). Central Puget Sound (Area 10) also remains open for hatchery kings as does south central Puget Sound (Area 11). Look for the latter two to produce some stellar fishing heading into this month.

Lastly, before heading out the door, check the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/ for any possible emergency closures this month and also what marine and freshwater areas are open or closed for salmon.

Yellow perch options bloom in the summer heat

There’s nothing better than getting a first-time angler or youth hooked on fishing and yellow perch is one of those prime options.

Lake Washington – which is 20 miles long and covers more than 22,000 acres – is one of those places that comes alive in August for yellow perch.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Their population levels in this large urban lake is very robust and they continue to have yearly strong recruitment and survival rates that won’t make the slightest dent on production.

Most yellow perch average 7 to 10 inches along with some “jumbos” hitting the 11- to 12-inch range.

WDFW experts say it is only a matter of time before the official state record could come from Lake Washington. The current state record of 2.75 pounds was caught by Larry Benthien at Snelson’s Slough in Skagit County on June 22, 1969.

The reason behind this possibility is due in part to the ample feed and room for yellow perch to grow in Lake Washington, which is the second largest natural-bodied lake in Washington. Female perch are the largest and tend to grow much faster (usually maturing in three to four years) and can live if 8 to 10 years.

The best time of the year to fish for yellow perch begins around July when the water heats up, and peaks from August through October.

Look for schools of yellow perch in shallow water, 15 to 35 feet, and close to the shoreline. They will school up in shaded locations just outside the cover of weed beds, milfoil, aquatic weeds and lily pads or under docks, piers and overhanging trees and brush.

Yellow perch are active throughout the day and the only time they seek out covered areas is at night when predators are lurking.

Popular locations to fish are Seward Park; Kenmore log boom and pier; Juanita Bay; Magnuson Park shoreline; Andrews Bay; Newport area and slough; Yarrow Bay; Gene Coulon Park in Renton; Mercer Island near Luther Burbank Park; and off Leschi Park, Madison Park, Stan Sayres Pits and Mount Baker Park. Areas from the Montlake Cut into Lake Union are also good especially off Gasworks Park.

A light-to-medium-action trout fishing rod with a spinning reel attached to 4- to 6-pound test line works best. Use a worm and drop-shot (egg-style) weight attached to a three-way swivel or Sniper Lure Snubs – a colorful tiny 3-inch plastic worm. Live maggots, a skirted crappie jig work well. After you catch your first perch cut a small chunk of the meat or even a perch eyeball as bait.

Other good perch lakes are Sammamish near Issaquah; Kapowsin southeast of Puyallup; Beaver and Pine near Issaquah; Sawyer northwest of Black Diamond; Harts southeast of Yelm; Goodwin northwest of Marysville; Stevens east of Everett; American near Fort Lewis; Angle in Sea-Tac; Desire in Renton; and Meridian in Kent.

Dungeness crab fishing opportunities providing fairly decent catches

The Dungeness crab fishing success has been somewhat better than expected although many are having to still throw back some soft-shelled crabs.

Areas east of Bonilla-Tatoosh Island boundary line (Marine Catch Area 4), Sekiu (5), Port Angeles (6), east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) and northern Puget Sound (9) are open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

Central Puget Sound (10) is open through this Saturday, Aug. 3. The shorter season is due to an overage in last year’s crab catch.

Hood Canal (12) north of a line projected due east of Ayock Point is open through Sept. 2 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). Areas south of Ayock Point are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

The San Juan Islands (7 South) is open through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week). San Juan Islands (7 North) opens Aug. 15 through Sept. 30 (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week).

South-central Puget Sound (11) and southern Puget Sound (13) are closed this summer to help rebuild crab populations.

NW Salmon Derby Series loaded with events in August

The derby series kicked into high gear with the Lake Coeur d’Alene Big One Fishing Derby on July 24-28 seeing a good number of anglers turn out despite the  tough fishing. Top angler in the adult division was Bret Hojem with a 13.54-pound chinook; and top youth angler was Cooper Malcolm with a 9.82 chinook.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

Prior to that the Puget Sound Anglers Bellingham Salmon Derby was held July 12-14. A total of 392 adult tickets and 72 youth tickets were sold with 164 chinook weighed-in for the event, which was 10 more fish caught than last year.

Tom Hartley of Anacortes took the top prize of $7,500 with a 21.90-pound hatchery chinook; second was Chris Wilson with a 21.60 worth $2,500; and third was Adam Beardsley with a 20.62 worth $1,000.

Other derbies on the horizon are the South King County PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 3; Brewster Salmon Derby on Aug. 1-4; Gig Harbor PSA Salmon Derby, Aug. 10; Vancouver, B.C. Chinook Classic, Aug. 17-18; and Edmonds PSA Coho Derby, Sept. 7. The Columbia River Fall Salmon Derby on Aug. 31 has been cancelled due to expected low salmon returns.

Drawing for the grand prize boat takes place at the conclusion of the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 21-22. New at the Everett Coho Derby is a second weigh-in station located at the Edmonds Marina.

The grand prize $75,000 Weldcraft 202 Rebel Hardtop boat from Renaissance Marine Group in Clarkston will be making the rounds to each derby. The boat is powered with a Yamaha 200hp and 9.9hp trolling motor on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer.

The boat is rigged with Burnewiin accessories; Scotty downriggers; Raymarine Electronics; a custom WhoDat Tower; and a Dual Electronics stereo. Other sponsors include Silver Horde Lures; Master Marine and Tom-n-Jerry’s; Harbor Marine; Salmon & Steelhead Journal; NW Sportsman Magazine; The Reel News; Sportco and Outdoor Emporium; and Prism Graphics. It is trailered with a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado – not part of the grand prize giveaway – courtesy of Northwest Chevrolet and Burien Chevrolet.
In other related news, anglers can also start looking at 2020 with dates finalized for Resurrection Salmon Derby on Feb. 1-2; Friday Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 6-8; and Roche Harbor Salmon Classic on Feb. 13-15.

Details: http://www.nwsalmonderbyseries.com/.

Summer is sneaking by quickly so it’s time for me to jump on the boat and get into the fishing action. I’ll see you on the water!

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Summer 2019’s Last Hurrah For Area 10 Crabbers Coming Up

Crabbing off Seattle, Shoreline, Bainbridge Island and on the rest of the Central Sound’s Marine Area 10 wraps up after Aug. 3, WDFW is reminding shellfishers.

That’s a month earlier than usual and due to a bit of an overharvest last summer, according to state shellfish biologist Don Velasquez.

MARINE AREA 10 CRABBERS HAVE JUST ONE MORE OPENING LEFT IN THE SEASON, THIS COMING THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The 2018 quota was 40,000 pounds, but crabbers harvested more than 46,000 pounds, and so through “buyback provisions” in negotiated state-tribal agreements, that dropped this year’s allowable take to 33,212 pounds, he says.

Velazquez says that that mark is modeled to be met at the end of this coming Saturday.

It’s possible that with last year’s Area 11 and 13 closures more South Sound crabbers hit Area 10, driving up the catch, but there could be also good news on the horizon for Tacoma and Olympia Dungeness lovers.

“I think there is some hope” for next season, Velazquez says.

They’ve been closed since 2018 to rebuild abundances that crashed in recent years, possibly due to overly warm waters, north-south larval transport issues, and/or overharvest.

According to a WDFW presentation last year, two entire back-to-back year-classes of crabs that represented Dungies that would have been legal-sized for sport and tribal fishermen in 2017 and 2018 were “missing, not detected.”

The year-class that would have been legal this summer 2019 were also said to be “greatly reduced.”

“It usually takes four years for crabs to reach legal size,” Velasquez says, and next year’s harvestable Dungeness would have been born after The Blob abated and waters cooled in the South Sound.

Still, the state and tribal closures to rebuild abundance weren’t stopping some scofflaw(s) who recently hung several pots in Vashon and Maury Islands’ Quartermaster Harbor tethered to duck decoys to try and keep the illicit activity on the downlow.

But the — literally — odd ducks only served to attract the eyes of a watchful WDFW marine patrol officer who spotted the “out-of-place” fowl on the water.

(WDFW)

While crabbing will continue as usual on its Thursday-Monday schedule elsewhere in Puget Sound, a larger than usual number of recently molted shellfish are being also reported.

“We’re running into a lot of soft-shells,” confirms Velasquez, “particularly in Areas 8-1 and 8-2.”

As hard-shelled crabs are harvested through tribal and state seasons, the percentage of soft-shelled ones, which must go back in the water regardless of whether they’re legal or not, can rise as the crabs grow, doff their old shell, and regrow a new one.

The biologist points to page 132 of the fishing pamphlet for the best ways to determine the status of crabs — pushing the abdomen, the shell next to the mouth or the first segment of the first walking leg.

“They shouldn’t ‘pop can’ in with finger pressure. They should be rock hard,” Velasquez says.

WDFW says that soft-shelled crabs have less meat than they do when in hard-shell condition, and it is of “lower quality” too.

As for recent reports, Northwest Sportsman sources report “good” to “hit and miss” crabbing in the San Juans.

Marine Area 7 South is open through Sept. 30, while 7 North opens Aug. 15 through the end of September.

And crabbing is open through Labor Day in Areas 4, 5, 6, 8-1 and 8-2, 9, and Area 12 north of Ayock Point.

Only male Dungeness a minimum of 6 1/4 inches across the back can be kept; male or female red rocks 5 or more inches across the back can be retained.

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Researchers Study How Far North Oregon Coast Dungeness Roam

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Dungeness crab is Oregon’s leading commercial seafood product, bringing in an estimated $75 million in 2018, yet little is known about how far crabs will venture in search of food.

RESEARCHER SARAH HENKEL PREPARES TO RELEASE A DUNGENESS CRAB WITH AN ACOUSTIC TRANSMITTER. (OSU)

Oregon State University marine ecologist Sarah Henkel is hoping to change that. Last year, she and a colleague from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration glued acoustic tags onto several legal-sized Dungeness crabs near the mouth of the Columbia River and off Cape Falcon, then deployed acoustic receivers north and south of the two locations to learn more about their movements.

Their goal was to learn how frequently and how far crabs move in sandy versus rocky habitat – data that will help inform decision-making on potential impacts of wave energy testing and marine reserves.

What they found out about the crabs surprised them. What they discovered about great white sharks in Oregon waters from listening for the signals emitted from the crab tags intrigued them even more.

First, about the crabs. The researchers deployed 10 tagged crabs in sandy habitat near the Columbia and they all fled the region within a week, taking with them the tags that cost $300 apiece. Crabbers usually target sandy areas for deploying pots because they are less likely to get tangled on the seafloor.

“It’s interesting because I’ve done a lot of sampling of benthic habitat and there just isn’t a lot of food down there,” said Henkel, who works out of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. “There’s usually only very small worms and clams, yet there’s an enormous crab harvest each year and most of that is from sandy-bottomed regions.”

DUNGENESS CRABS OUTFITTED WITH ACOUSTIC TRANSMITTERS. (OSU)

So Henkel tagged an additional 20 crabs and dropped them into the water near Cape Falcon, which has rockier habitat and is about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. Only four of those crabs left the region right away, while the other 16 stayed an average of 25.5 days. One stayed for 117 days, she noted.

“Even though it’s a small sample size, it’s clear that habitat can influence crab movement,” Henkel said. “The crabs in the rocky areas had more to eat, but they often also have mossy bellies, which may not be as desirable commercially. Commercial crabbers like to target migrating crabs in sandy areas that tend to have smooth bellies.”

Henkel’s theory is that Dungeness crabs may travel far and wide in search of food, and when they find it, they’ll stay put.

“We heard from a fishermen who caught one of our tagged crabs in 70 meters of water near Astoria Canyon, who then let the crab go,” Henkel said. “A few days later, another crabber caught the same crab in Grays Harbor, Washington.”

Studies by Henkel and others have shown that Dungeness crabs will range an average of 11.5 miles, and some extend that range to more than 50 miles. Research has also shown that crabs don’t seem fazed by power lines or cables on the seafloor that may transmit wave energy or are used for telecommunications.

Now about those other signals: While listening for crabs, Henkel and her colleagues picked up some other signals from transmitters. When they contacted other researchers, they learned that 35 of the acoustic “pings” came from green sturgeon that had been tagged for other studies.

Seven additional “pings” came from great white sharks near Cape Falcon.

“The great white sharks were tagged in northern California and we detected them – up here in December and January,” Henkel said. “They were very close to shore, which is interesting. In the three years we had acoustic receivers at a site about seven miles off the coast near Newport, we never detected a single shark.”

Her study was supported by the Eder Family Dungeness Crab Research Fund through OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative.

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Strait, San Juans, North Sound To Reopen For Dungeness

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

Some areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing on Oct. 6, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

A POT FULL OF SAN JUANS CRABS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The late-season crab openings were approved by fishery managers after summer catch assessments by WDFW indicated additional crab are available for harvest, said Don Velasquez, shellfish manager for the department.

Areas opening to sport crabbing on Oct. 6 include marine areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardiner), and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.

In each of these areas, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31.

Sport crabbing will be closed in marine areas 10 (Seattle Bremerton), 11 (Vashon Island), 12 (Hood Canal), 13 (South Puget Sound), and in the remainder of Marine Area 9.

Maps and descriptions of the two sections of Marine Area 9 are on the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/area.php?id=16.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.

All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state.

Winter crab catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2019. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html.

OSP Wildlife Troopers’ August Newsletter Details Interesting Case

Not all game warden work is an open and shut case.

A bighorn sheep seized in late summer by Oregon wildlife troopers was later returned to the hunter after video evidence showed her first shot had in fact killed it.

(NICK MYATT, ODFW)

The incident is detailed in the August monthly newsletter of the state police’s Fish and Wildlife Division, with a trooper out of the Lakeview office initially responding to a report that a ram had been shot by someone without a tag.

According to the reporting individual, the shooter had twice fired at and missed the wild sheep, and then a person accompanying the tagholder had fired and downed the animal.

When the trooper met the pair as they came out of the field with the bighorn, he found that the hunter had failed to validate her once-in-a-lifetime tag and cited her for it. While the other admitted to shooting at the bighorn lest it get away, they claimed they had in fact missed it.

Nonetheless, both the rifle and ram were seized by the officer.

But the case wasn’t closed quite yet.

“Hours later, a video from an unrelated hunter group was located and it showed the sheep was killed by the first shot which was from the lawful tag holder,” OSP’s newsletter states.

No word on the gun, but with the video evidence, troopers were able to return the sheep to the hunter.

While that case featured interesting twists and turns, others written up in the August report are more straight ahead.

Here are some of those cases:

A F&W Trooper received a call regarding five elk being shot by three male subjects. Troopers responded to the location. Subsequent to an interview, a male subject admitted he shot an elk for himself and an elk for his wife. Ultimately three male subjects killed five elk but only had three tags. It was unknown which male subject killed the fifth elk as they were all shooting into a herd of an estimated 100 elk. The Troopers seized two elk and a rifle as evidence. The male subject who killed the two elk was cited for Lend, Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag and Take/Possession of Antlerless Elk. The female was cited for Lend, Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag. The two other male subjects were both cited for Aiding/Counseling in a Wildlife Offense.

A F&W Trooper observed a subject angling on the North Santiam River in Linn County near a Forest Service Road. The investigation revealed that the subject had caught and retained 21 hatchery trout and had a fish on his line when he was contacted. The subject was criminally cited for Exceeding Daily Bag Limit of Fish and a fishing pole was seized. The trout were seized and donated to the Union Gospel Mission in Salem.

A F&W Trooper was working an evening shellfish patrol on Nehalem Bay when he contacted a group of subjects crabbing from the Wheeler City dock at dusk. The subjects were just leaving and had a white cooler with them. When asked to show their catch the subjects revealed 20 male Dungeness crab, 18 of which were measured and found to be undersize by at least an inch. Two subjects were cited for Take/Possession of Undersize Dungeness Crab. One subject gave the Trooper a Washington Driver’s license and a resident shellfish license. The subject was additionally cited for Falsely Applied for License or Tag.

A F&W Trooper noticed that a local resident had built a large beach out into an essential salmonid habitat stream. The Trooper contacted the landowner who admitted to using about five yards of sand to construct the beach. The case was referred to Department of State Lands for civil action and the landowner is currently working with DSL and ODFW to repair the damage he caused.

Elsewhere is a blurb that describes how troopers helped two families who experienced flat tires in the Ochocos, including loaning a portable air compressor to one man so he could safely make his way back home to Redmond and then later return the device, all on the promise of a handshake.

Great job, troopers!

Yuasa: South Sound Crab Aside, Lots Of Good Fisheries To Hit

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

Hold on! Wait a minute! It’s truly hard to believe the calendar already reads June as the days are flying by at warp speed.

Spring was a blur, and by now many have already made their early summer salmon fishing trips to southeast Alaska; opening day of trout season is a distant memory; pots have been filled with spot shrimp and topped on salads or grilled on the BBQ; razor clams are now vacuum sealed in the freezer; and lingcod and halibut fishing was decent from the coast clear into open areas of Puget Sound.

This is time of year when turning over a new leaf on another season is set to take place with anglers switching into summer fishing mode.
But, before we get too deep into what opportunities exist we should weigh-in on a dire situation facing Puget Sound Dungeness crab.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

It appears the glory days of Puget Sound Dungeness crab fisheries could momentarily be in the rear-view mirror as areas south of Seattle (Marine Catch Areas 11 and 13) are closed this summer due a dramatic dip in population levels. Tribal fisheries are also shutdown in those areas.

Don Velasquez, a WDFW Puget Sound shellfish biologist says anglers haven’t been faced with such a low abundance since 2012 and lousy success in 2017 were a signal of what was to come.
Dungeness crab abundance test fishing in early spring around south-central and southern Puget Sound found the situation wasn’t very rosy.

What fishery experts are seeing – or in this matter aren’t seeing – in those two areas is a two- and three-year-old male Dungeness crab class (averaging 4.4 inches) and four-year-old class (averaging 5.4 inches) are also greatly reduced. Legal-size is usually the five-year-old and older age class crabs averaging 6 ¼ inches or more.

“We’ve had some pretty extreme surface water events in 2014 and 2015, and it is a possibility the abnormally high-water temperatures could have played a role in the downtrend,” Velasquez said. “When young of the year Dungeness crab are faced with these types of conditions they tend to die at a much higher rate.”

Other reasons for the decline are a distant source of brood stock for larval production and inconsistent larval advection; low dissolved oxygen levels; ocean acidification; restricted water flow south of the Tacoma Narrows; and excessive harvest.

To make matters worse extremely low density of Dungeness crab could affect successful mating for future generations.

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

The record catch was 2015 when state and tribal Puget Sound fisheries landed 11.8 million pounds, exceeding the previous 2014 record by 1.2 million pounds.

While crab opportunities have declined I must go back to my one of my old mantras: “You can gripe about where you can’t fish or head to greener pastures.”

And in this case those greener pastures will likely be found in northern Puget Sound and San Juan Islands. Specific dates haven’t been determined but fishing usually gets underway in early July. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.

Many other fishing options abound this summer

Now let’s move onto what’s happening this month and beyond.

The WDFW statewide trout derby is happening on 100 lakes now through Oct. 31. A common theme since opening day – which seems more pronounced than last year – is the number of tagged derby fish caught of late. Last year more than 50 percent of the tags were turned in so if it’s better so far this season that is great news!

More funding was diverted into 2018 with about $38,000 in donated prizes and more than 1,000 tags of which one-third (300 total) were placed in 22 Puget Sound region lakes.

Prizes range from gift cards to fishing gear, plus one tag lurking in a local lake is a getaway to Roche Harbor Resort in San Juan Islands.

Trout action remains steady and should continue until it heats up although deep-water bodied lakes will be good clear into summer. Bass, walleye and perch are also gaining more traction.

Shore-bound anglers shouldn’t overlook coastal surf perch fishing, which has been good since early spring from Neah Bay south along the Oregon coast.

The hatchery chinook season in Tacoma area of south-central Puget Sound (Area 11) reopened June 1. Since the winter/spring season ended on a high note with baitfish teeming off the Clay Banks it should no doubt attract some early-feeding kings into the area this month.

Southern Puget Sound (Area 13) chinook fishing in May was better than it had been in previous years with good catches off Point Fosdick, and Fox Island’s east side at Gibson Point, Toy Point and Fox Point.

Other marine salmon fisheries on horizon include Sekiu, San Juan Islands and a portion of Hood Canal all opening July 1 for hatchery chinook; and Port Angeles opening July 3. The Tulalip Bubble fishery is open Fridays to Mondays of each week but closed on June 9.

Central Puget Sound is open in June for coho only and I’d earmark the shipping lanes off Jefferson Head. On coast, Ilwaco, Neah Bay and La Push open for salmon on June 23; and Westport on July 1.
On river scene, the Cascade, the Skagit above 530 Bridge and Skykomish opened June 1 for hatchery chinook; and a section of Skagit opens June 16 for sockeye.

Word on NW Salmon Derby Series

Next up on Northwest Salmon Derby Series is PSA Bellingham Salmon Derby on July 13-15 and Big One Salmon Derby July 25-29 at Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.

(MARK YUASA, NMTA)

It’s also not too soon to start getting excited about a coho season in central and northern Puget Sound during the prime fishing month of September. I’ve confirmed the PSA Edmonds Coho Derby is Sept. 8, and the biggest derby on West Coast – the Everett Coho Derby is date stamped for Sept. 22-23.

That is where we’ll draw the lucky name to win a grand-prize KingFisher 2025 Falcon Series boat powered with a Honda 150hp and 9.9hp trolling motors on an EZ-loader galvanized trailer. It is fully rigged with Scotty downriggers, Raymarine electronics, a WhoDat Tower and a Dual Electronic Stereo – for a $65,000 value. Not bad to get your name pulled out of a hat or maybe a cement mixer like we did last year in Everett. Details: www.NorthwestSalmonDerbySeries.com.

Now excuse me while I tie a bunch of leaders, prep the boat and zoom out the door to go fishing. See you out on the water soon!

Crabbing Won’t Open In South Sound This Summer

Bad news for Tacoma and Olympia crabbers: Marine Areas 11 and 13 won’t open for Dungeness — or even red rocks — this summer.

PUYALLUP’S JASON BROOKS PULLS A POT OFF FOX ISLAND DURING THE 2013 SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Dungie numbers have crashed in recent years and state managers say the idea behind the full closure is to try and rebuild the populations.

Tribal commercial fisheries will also not open.

It’s unclear why the crabs are not doing well, but a recent presentation to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission pointed to three possibilities: excessive harvest, poor water conditions, and distance larva must ride currents to here from primary breeding areas.

That PDF also shows how bad it is.

Graphs in it show state and tribal crab harvest in Area 11, off Tacoma, peaked in 2014 at about 225,000 pounds, produced 200,000 in 2015, then dropped like a rock to 50,000 in 2016 and half that last year.

Similarly, Area 13, deep South Sound, peaked in 2012 at 300,000 pounds, but zipped downhill like a ski jumper to an almost negligible amount last year, 9,462 pounds, or one-tenth of one percent of all that were harvested in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

WDFW GRAPHS SHOW HOW DUNGENESS HARVEST IN MARINE AREA 13 (CRAB AREA 7) AND AREA 11 (CRAB AREA 6) HAVE TANKED OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. (WDFW)

Test fishing earlier this year found one legal Dungie a pot in Area 11 and maybe a quarter of one in 13.

On the flip side, those graphs also reveal the extreme spike in harvest, tripling and even quadrupling from the 100,000- and 50,000-pound ranges of the last decade.

A rather frightening graph WDFW also put together shows that two entire back-to-back year-classes of crabs are “missing, not detected.”

Those would be year 2 and year 3 Dungies.

Year 4 crabs — which would be legals in summer 2019 — are also said to be “greatly reduced.”

That means we may be in for a few years of rebuilding the stock.

“It is a very sad day when a family activity such as Puget Sound crabbing is shut down due to very foreseeable and predictable mismanagement,” said Puyallup shellfisherman and Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks. “Overharvest by other user groups and a lack of enforcement, along with winter and summer seasons, and it’s pretty apparent the crab numbers will dwindle.”

The last winter recreational season in Areas 11 and 13 occurred in 2015

Last year, as it became blindingly obvious there were very few Dungeness and even red rocks around the South Sound, crabber ire turned towards tribal fishermen who were said to have put out huge numbers of pots in recent years, perhaps a sign they were also having trouble finding legals.

Another theory revolves around The Blob years, 2014-15, and how high water temperatures as well as low dissolved oxygen levels could have negatively affected juvenile crabs.

The book The Highest Tide aside, because of the inland sea’s shape, the Tacoma Narrows restricts the flow of saltwater that might otherwise carry larval crabs into the South Sound. But it’s been like that since the end of the last ice age too.

Whatever the cause, it’s all leading state shellfish managers to take another look at how they manage crabs in South Sound.

Currently, it’s done with the 3-S model — restricting harvest by size, sex and season.

“The 3-S model of management was developed for open systems, such as coastal waters, where the effects of harvest are mitigated by regular larval production and recruitment,” says the WDFW presentation. “A confined system like South Puget Sound may need to incorporate a 4th metric, larval production and juvenile recruitment.”

“Shellfish populations become stressed when critically low density levels are reached, and reproductive success is greatly diminished,” it continues. “This is known as an Allee Effect. For Dungeness crab extremely low density could affect successful mating.”

WDFW had also considered just barring Dungie retention or reducing limits and seasons. It said that some recreational crabbers supported closing it down.

Crab seasons for the rest of Puget Sound are expected to be announced later this month after state and tribal managers agree to them. No other similar closures are expected, according to WDFW.

According to the agency, nearly 5.1 million pounds of crabs were harvested in the San Juan Islands last year (and who knows how many more from Canadian poachers), almost 3 million pounds worth in Areas 8-1, 8-2 and 9 alongside Whidbey and Camano Islands, and 864,000 pounds in Area 6, the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.

AN AUGUST 2017 WDFW GRAPH SHOWS STATE (GRAY) AND TRIBAL (BLUE) CRAB HARVEST OVER THE PREVIOUS 25 YEARS. THE STATE SHARE IS COMPRISED OF COMMERCIAL AND RECREATIONAL AND WAS DOMINATED BY THE FORMER UNTIL 2011 AND FAIRLY CLOSE EVER SINCE. (WDFW)

Yuasa: Blackmouth, Chums, Razor Clams, More On Tap This Month

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

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

In the blink of an eye summer has ended, and while fall is ushering in iffy weather and waning daylight hours that shouldn’t stop anglers from venturing out on the water.

First and foremost are the decent chances this month to hook a winter blackmouth in northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9), eastside of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2), central Puget Sound (10); south-central Puget Sound (11); and southern Puget Sound (13).

CENTRAL PUGET SOUND’S MARINE AREAS 8-1, 8-2, 9 AND 10 ARE NOW OPEN FOR BLACKMOUTH. TEGAN YUASA, THE AUTHOR’S SON, GOT IN ON THIS NICE HAUL OF WINTER FEEDER KINGS. (MARK YUASA)

Many charter-boat owners and sport anglers will tell you this is their favorite time of year since blackmouth – a term used for a chinook’s black gum-line – are wired to constantly feed on schools of herring and candlefish.

In other words: “Find the bait and you’ll likely find a hungry blackmouth!”

Places like Possession Bar, Point No Point, Double Bluff off the south side of Whidbey Island, Jefferson Head, West Point, Point Monroe, Allen Bank off Blake Island, Hat Island, Baby Island, Clay Banks off Point Defiance, Camano Island and Southworth all come to mind with a plethora of other hot spots layered in between.

Another school of thought that makes this salmon fishery so much fun is the blackmouth’s predictability since the best bite is based on tidal influence. The payoff: If they bit the day before at a certain time frame, it’s very likely they’ll still be there the day after only an hour later into a tidal series.

Those planning on heading out for the Wednesday opening day of winter chinook fishing in northern and central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 9 and 10) will likely find lots of chinook under the 22-inch legal-size limit.

According to WDFW test fishery folks who have been plying the water in advance of tomorrow’s opener have found on average the chinook were 2-inches smaller than last year during the same time frame in Area 9. Even the three legal-size chinook were just BARELY over 22 inches.

In northern Puget Sound they encountered two legal-marked chinook, one legal-unmarked, 14 sub-legal marked and two sub-legal unmarked.

In central Puget Sound they encountered one legal-unmarked and three sub-legal marked.

This may be of concern since the fisheries could close if the chinook guideline is achieved.

Get over the crabbiness by pulling in a pot of Dungies!

To make the winter holiday feast even more appealing is the fact you can set pots again for Dungeness crab in open Puget Sound areas now through Dec. 31.

While summer crab fishing was less than stellar those who dropped pots in the “zone” filled them up with plenty of Dungies. Word has it since reopening on Oct. 7 the crab have started to fill out and are much more meatier as they fatten up for the winter.

Look for good crabbing around Whidbey Island, northeast side of Kitsap Peninsula, Camano Island, Hat Island, Port Angeles Harbor, Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands. Remember due to a downtrend in crab abundance locations south of Edmonds and Hood Canal – Marine Catch Areas 10, 11, 12 and 13 are closed this winter.

Dog days of fall upon us!

The good news for salmon anglers is two-fold as the chinook fishery reopens in some local marine areas, but the bigger news is what looks to be an extremely strong chum return.

“It appears we’re at the beginning of a stronger than forecasted chum run for Hood Canal and South Sound,” said Marisa Litz, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) chum salmon biologist.

THIS FALL’S CHUM SALMON RUN IS COMING IN STRONGLY; PETE SERGEEF HOISTS A NICE ONE CAUGHT OFF JEFF HEAD LAST YEAR. (MARK YUASA)

Sport anglers at Hoodsport in Hood Canal saw some good catches of chum this where 53 anglers on Oct. 29 had 124 chum, and 67 on Oct. 28 had 150.

Likewise catches from commercial boats in central and south-central Puget Sound and Hood Canal were scoring good catches too.

“We had our initial (purse seine and gill-net) openings last week and this week, and based on our (catch per unit effort) they’re among the largest we’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Litz said.

Early boat ticket reports showed some as high as 4,000 chum per commercial boat on Oct. 18, and it appears they remained steady this past week.

“We had several purse seiners in Hood Canal and South Sound filling up their holds, and catching a lot of good quality bright chum,” Litz said. “Of course, it is still too early, and we haven’t changed any of our preseason run-size forecasts just yet.”

The total fall chum return is 1,070,968, and a breakdown of that figure shows 492,892 for Hood Canal and 291,357 for South Sound rivers and streams.

Other fall chum forecasts are 109,337 for Nooksack/Samish; 6,966 for Skagit; 5,981 for Stillaguamish; 20,53 for Snohomish; 141,893 for central Puget Sound; and 2,061 for Strait of Juan de Fuca. Many rivers are closed to all salmon fishing to protect weak returning stocks. Check the WDFW pamphlet for what is open and/or closed to fishing.

“This is still the early stage of chum returns, but all indications show we’re going to exceed that based on the catches the last few weeks,” Litz said. “We’ve had pretty atrocious returns of pinks, and issues with chinook and coho so to see this chum return likely exceeding expectations is great news.”

WDFW and tribal fishery managers are assessing chum forecasts, and will likely start having conversations to consider increasing the run-size very soon, which could be as soon as this week.

Chum salmon – better known as dog salmon for their ferocious-looking jawline at spawning time – are also one of the hardest-fighting fish a sport angler will hook, and they can weigh up to and over 20 pounds with most averaging 8 to 15 pounds.

Anglers pursuing chums will have plenty of opportunities along some of the more traditional fishing holes, which will give up decent action in the weeks ahead with the peak usually occurring around Thanksgiving.

Popular locales are the estuaries off Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Perry Creek in Eld Inlet, Johns Creek and Canyon Creek in Oakland Bay, Chico Creek estuary in Dyes Inlet and Curly Creek estuary near Southworth.

Other good places to try for chum are North Bay near Allyn, Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, McLane Creek, Eagle Creek south of Potlatch State Park, and the public-access shores off Highway 101 from Eldon to Hoodsport.

The heavy rain in past couple of weeks has pushed a lot of the early chums toward estuaries where they’ll stage before up into rivers and streams.

A bobber and anchovy or small firecracker-sized herring is the most productive way to catch fish, but tossing flies, spinners, jigs and spoons will also catch their fair share of fish. In this fishery many believe the color chartreuse is the “must have” color in your tackle gear to catch chums.

The strong abundance of chum also bodes well when northern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Area 9) and east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) reopens for blackmouth on Wednesday (Nov. 1). Anglers at places like Possession Bar and Double Bluff off the south side of Whidbey Island, Point No Point, Kingston, Pilot Point and Port Townsend should find their decent share of fish to catch.

Can you dig it?

Coastal razor clam diggers searching for the prized bivalves at Mocrocks. Fall and winter may bring harsh weather, but diggers can find hot digging.

If you can dig this news as much as I dig it, be sure to add razor clams to the cornucopia of holiday meals. Hint: Think clams instead of turkey or ham or better yet all three for a surf-and-turf celebration.

Digging is open during evening low tides on Thursday (Nov. 2) and Saturday (Nov. 4) at Copalis; Friday (Nov. 3) and Sunday (Nov. 5) at Mocrocks; and Friday through Sunday at Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Diggers are reminded that the dig on Nov. 5 is when we set the clocks back one hour. Low tides are plus-0.1 feet at 6:03 p.m. on Thursday; minus-0.7 feet at 6:47 p.m. on Friday; -1.2 at 7:31 p.m. on Saturday; and -1.4 at 7:16 p.m. on Sunday.

Other coastal razor clam digs tentatively planned are Dec. 1 at Copalis; Dec. 2 and 4 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Dec. 3 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Copalis; and Dec. 31 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. The season openers on Oct. 6-7 lured 28,300 diggers with an average of 12.5 clams per digger – the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit. A breakdown showed Long Beach seekers averaged 11.9; Twin Harbors, 12.4; Copalis, 13.3; and Mocrocks, 12.6. Average size was 4 to 5 inches with bigger clams at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
The only thing holding back future digs are a passing grade for marine toxin testing conducted prior to each series of digs. For details, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/.

On freshwater scene, state fisheries plans to plant about 260,000 catchable-sized trout to boost holiday fishing in Puget Sound and Southwest Washington year-round lakes.

Issaquah’s Beaver Lake got a plant of 800 jumbo-sized trout last month with 800 more going in right before Thanksgiving. Then just before Christmas another 800 will be added to zest up the holiday fishing fun. Check WDFW’s website for latest statewide trout plants at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

Word on NW Salmon Derby and more

Next up on the Northwest Salmon Derby Series is Everett No-Coho Blackmouth Salmon Derby this weekend (Nov. 4-5). This year’s grand prize – an $85,000 fully-loaded Hewescraft 220 OceanPro powered with Honda 250- and 9.9-horsepower motors on an EZ-Loader Tandem axle galvanized trailer – will be given away at the derby in a raffle drawing to one lucky person.

SOME LUCKY NORTHWEST SALMON ANGLER’S GOING TO WALK AWAY WITH THIS GREAT BOAT AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS WEEKEND’S EVERETT NO-COHO BLACKMOUTH DERBY. (NORTHWEST SALMON DERBY SERIES)

We’ve also got plenty more exciting surprises coming up in 2018 for the derby series so stay tuned as we get amped up on forthcoming news.

Lastly, I’m drafting The Seattle Boat Show fishing seminars, and we’ve got new additions to spice it up when the show drops anchor Jan. 26 to Feb. 3 at Century Link Field and Event Center. It’s a one-stop get all the tips on where and how to catch fish from some of the best experts in Pacific Northwest.