By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Is it because in little more than two months of writing outdoors columns I’ve risen to such a position of power in our fair realm?
Decidedly not. Instead it’s the state’s annual Free Fishing Weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in the state.
Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by Fish and Wildlife.
Anglers will not need a two pole endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted.
“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, have not taken up a rod and reel in years, or want to introduce a friend or young family member to the sport,” said Chris Donley, Fish and Wildlife inland fish program manager.
Anglers have been catching daily limits of trout at lakes for the past month, and many rivers and creeks on the North Olympic Peninsula and throughout the state will open to trout fishing starting Saturday.
Typically, the minimum-sized trout that can be kept is 14 inches long with a daily limit of two per angler.
Before you pack your tackle box and head out, pick up a 2014-2015 fishing pamphlet or visit wdfw.wa.gov to peruse the exact specifics on the rivers and creeks open to trout and what rules and regulations are in place on those bodies of water.
It’s quite the list.
Other options available on Free Fishing Weekend include hatchery chinook in Marine Area 3 (LaPush) and Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay); lingcod in those areas and in Area 5 (Sekiu), Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).
Crab season is open south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and closures will still be in effect.
Anglers also are required to complete a catch record card for any salmon or steelhead they catch.
Catch record cards and the rules pamphlets are available free at any fishing shop or at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.
A story of resurrection
Quilcene reader Mike Riley passed along an anecdote about losing his whole halibut fishing setup only to gain it back in an unlikely series of events.
Riley, his wife Shannon and her brother Greg Casad were fishing for flatties out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in front of the Elwha River last Friday.
The trio were in about 175 feet of water, drifting with the tide and bouncing herring along the bottom with 3-pound sinkers and spreader bars.
While waiting for a bite, Riley had placed his rod and reel in a clamshell-style rod holder.
“For whatever reason — I like to think ‘monster halibut — my rod made a quick hard jerk and it popped out of the holder and disappeared over the side of the boat,” Riley said.
“We all stared in amazement as the bubbles trailed away. I could not believe I had just lost about $350 worth of gear in five seconds.”
While the trio were contemplating the possibility of dragging the bottom for the rod, Shannon Riley felt something on her line.
“When she reeled up, and her rig got close to the surface, we all could not believe our eyes,” Riley said.
“The sinker on her spreader bar had lodged itself between my rod and the base of the reel that I had just lost a few minutes before.
“[I’m] not sure how it all happened under the water, but somehow I ended up being the luckiest fisherman in the Strait that day. I still can’t believe it happened.”
They later hauled in a 20-pound halibut, a smaller specimen, but one which Riley said made for some great eating.
Especially after experiencing such a range of emotions.
Loss, befuddlement, surprise, elation and happiness.
That’s a good day on the water.
Lake fishing in JeffCo
Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist who lives in Quilcene, has returned from a sojourn down south to participate in a rifle shooting competition.
He got out on Lake Leland recently and sent along some details.
“Trout fishing in the lakes around Port Townsend continues to be good for trollers and especially bank fishers at Lake Leland,” Norden said.
He added that water temperatures are hitting the mid-60s so trout may start to be a bit “mushy for table fare but warm water fishing is really starting to come on.
“Bass fishing is quite good for smaller to medium sized bass up to 2 pounds, while the larger fish are resting up from spawning.”
He went out on a bass fishing expedition and reported back that bass “were a little bit shy of fast-moving lures like spinner baits, but preferred topwater or slowly presented sub-surface lures.”
Norden said that yellow perch on Lake Leland are biting well when you can find a school of them near the edge of weeds.
Bluegill and catfish should be coming on in a few weeks.
Peninsula resident Pete Rosko checked in with two long-time Lake Sutherland residents and heard some great things about the kokanee bite.
“Unlike the past two years, the kokanee bite is excellent,” Rosko said.
“Most fish are in about 65 feet of water and suspended about 4 feet off bottom.
“Jigging with Sonic BaitFish has been the most productive, especially in the morning. The kokanee are bright silver and running between 12-14 inches.”
Daily limit is five of this species in lakes like Lake Sutherland.
Father’s Day shoot
An open to the public Father’s Day weekend archery shoot is planned Saturday and Sunday, June 15-16, at the Wapiti Bowmen’s Archery Club, located at 374 Arnett Road, off of Monroe Roadm, in Port Angeles.
Members have been working hard to get the trails in shape on the 20- acre course.
Lifelike targets of badgers, turkeys, bears and elk have been placed in the woods, across the ravines and up the banks for a challenging shoot.
Club volunteers start cooking flapjacks and sausage at 7 a.m. and hamburgers around noon Cost is $5 per meal.
Adult Shoot fees are $12 for one day or $20 for two.
Youngsters are encouraged to attend and spending some time treating dad to a day of ambling about a beautiful tract of land with some archery thrown on top.
Wapiti Bowmen is a nonprofit archery club established in 1964 to promote the sport of archery and is open for membership regardless of age, equipment or skill level.
Send photos, stories
Have a photograph, a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique?
Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at email@example.com.