The spring-time fishing choices are blooming faster than the pollen count with halibut, spot shrimp, trout and lingcod garnering the most attention.
First up is halibut fishing, which opens Thursday and Saturday, and May 11 in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the coast off Neah Bay, La Push and Westport. State fisheries will review catches after May 11 to see if fishing can reopen on May 21 and possibly May 25.
Ilwaco on southern coast also opens Thursday with fishing allowed Thursdays through Sundays of each week. The marine-wide limit for halibut is one daily with no minimum size limit.
Lingcod fishing opened Monday around most areas of Puget Sound, but action was lackluster.
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“It was tough fishing on opening day and there were the lucky guys who got their fish, but overall many others came back without a fish,” said Gary Krein, owner of All-Star Charters in Everett. “We fished spots that have usually produced well in the past, and the fish just weren’t there.”
Other places worth trying for lingcod are the breakwaters at Elliott Bay, Shilshole and Edmonds marinas; Point Evans; south of Hat Island; southeast of Alki Point near the green buoys; and Toliva Shoal.
The crowd on Monday at popular places like Possession Bar on the south-side of Whidbey Island easily exceeded more than 100 boats, and by Tuesday it dropped like a rock with 20 boats counted.
While the lingcod catch was scratchy expect thousands of boats on the water for Saturday’s spot shrimp opener, and it should be very good based on recent pre-season test fishing.
Shrimp fishing in central, south-central and southern Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 10, 11 and 13) will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday only. State fisheries will assess the catches, and then decide if additional fishing date(s) are possible.
Elsewhere, the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu to Port Angeles (5 and 6) and San Juan Island West (7) are open daily starting Saturday, and will close once the catch quota is achieved. Hood Canal (12) is Saturday and Wednesday, and May 17 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.
The Discovery Bay shrimp season is open Saturday and Wednesday, and May 17 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The San Juan Island South and East (7) sections are open daily from Saturday through May 21. The east side of Whidbey Island (8-1 and 8-2) and northern Puget Sound (9) are open Saturday and May 17 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
The daily limit is 80 spot shrimp per person. Spot shrimp are the biggest – averaging 8 to 12 inches long – of more than 80 shrimp species in local marine waterways.
More razor clams are at the department of health lab, and more news on additional digs should come to light in the next day or two.
State Fish and Wildlife officials aren’t jumping the gun as marine toxins have started to reappear off the entire coast. Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.
What is known for sure is that Copalis won’t reopen as the allowable harvest quota has been attained, but Mocrocks, Twin Harbors and Long Beach still have enough clams if they pass the next round of marine toxin testing.
Lower Columbia remains closed for spring chinook, and the final day above Bonneville is Friday. State fisheries will assess the run size later this month to see if more fishing is possible. Drano Lake picked up for spring chinook with 167 boat anglers keeping 21 fish this past week. Slow to fair for steelhead and spring chinook on Cowlitz and Kalama. Slow for spring chinook on Wind up to Highway 14 Bridge and Klickitat. Lower Yakima is open for hatchery spring chinook, but ramp up until later this month.
Most marine areas are closed for salmon fishing, except southern Puget Sound south of the Narrows Bridge is open through June 30. Coastal bottom-fishing is very good for black rockfish and lingcod off Westport, Neah Bay and La Push.
Good for trout at Green, Spanaway, American, Ping, Cottage, Wilderness, Margaret, Bosworth, Jameson, Mineral, Desire, Deer, Angle and Meridian. To see how each statewide lake fared on opening day, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/lowland/. Fair for large-sized trout in Rufus Woods Reservoir. Slow to fair for cutthroat trout in Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish. Fair to good for lake trout and kokanee in Lake Chelan. As the water warms up look for good bass fishing in smaller, shallow west-side lakes.