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Our inside Lingcod fishing season has been underway since the first of the month and with great spring weather we’ve also been enjoying some quality fish coming to the boat. Opening weekend saw many fish in the 30″ range and last weekend Patrick took big fish with a 35″ 18# fish off the inside reef with a 7 inch swimbait.
That fish stood only a week as Saturday Elliott took the top of the board with a 36″ 20# fish ( max retention length for the inside ) in 30 feet of water on a live greenling flylined above the kelp at slack tide. Two other keeper lings were caught with that same greenling, before it ultimately yielded 2 nice fillets for dinner– how’s that for conserving your bait !
~ One bonus of the Neah Bay trip was a pair of beautiful Tiger Rockfish ( Sebastes nigrocinctus ) caught while jigging Big Hammer swimtails and carefully released. These long lived rockfish are uncommon and striking with no two fish alike in color and pattern. Kasey took a handsome cream and orange fish on Tuesday then the Capt. caught another tiger banded one Wednesday. Our crew has been after one of these coastal fish for some time and were surprised to get them on a shallow 50′ reef. We’re hoping to get a reproduction taxidermy mount of each fish for the Peninsula Sportsman trophy wall.
~ Area 4 Neah Bay opened for lingcod retention last Tuesday so the crew from F/V Siwash aka “Team Ling Hammer” headed West to get a crack at the first lings of the year. Camping in Sekiu courtesy of Van Riper’s resort we awoke to sunshine and calm seas Tuesday morning. Heading West into area 4 we started getting fish just after the river, while fishing the kelpline up to Sail rock. Tuesdays total was 6 quality lings averaging 26-37 inches for the boat. Didn’t get any of the “crocodiles” landed but had more than our share of followers in the 4 + foot range. Highlight of the morning was Kasey laying into a 70-80lb halibut hooked w/ his custom Seeker/ Avet rod on a Big Hammer swimtail. Kasey fought that fish for over 20 minutes while we chased it around on the kicker. Retention isn’t allowed for halibut until certain days June so we took some go-pro footage and gently released the beast back to its reef. Wednesday’s fishing brought more of the same with another 6 legal sized fish kept before the weather shifted and blew swell and chop out of the west. Heading back into Clallam Bay just before noon we spotted a young Gray Whale cruising the kelpline just offshore, a trio of Bull Sea lions and flocks of summer plumed oldsquaw, harlequin and scoters staging for their migration back up north. The West-end of the Olympic Peninsula is such a magical place.
Sure is fun heading down to the tideflats on a spring day for some steamer clam digging… and the rewards for a half hour spent digging in the mud ? Good times and a heck of a clam dinner for the crew.
Tiffany’s Port Townsend Steamer Clams
- 2-3 limits fresh Manila or Native Littlenecks in shell ( approx. 3 lbs)
- 32 oz. organic vegetable broth
- fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- one can tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- glass of chardonnay ( for the cook , dash for the clams )
Rinse and scrub clams. Combine broth, basil, tomatoes salt and garlic in a deep Paella pan or pot, cover and bring to a boil. Add clams and bring back to boil on simmer- clams are done when they have all opened fully. Serve clams in bowls with broth and slices of baguette bread for dipping.
Hunting from a layout boat is one of the more classic, challenging and rewarding ways to take trophy ducks. Nobody who has experienced layout hunting says it’s easy, it is not. The gunner’s laying down in the box 6 inches below the waterline with a shot window and swing that is narrow from the constraints and variables of a floating blind. Even on a calm day there is something to getting the timing right to rise, mark and shoot a duck that’s screaming in on the wing and often setting on your decoys only yards from the bow. Now add in some wind chop with swell and you have something that no sporting clays course could ever match. But gunning old school is rewarding, especially when you get duck you’ve been waiting a lifetime to achieve.
The 2012/ 2013 WA waterfowl season is off and running ! The 7 bird limit, 107 day season began the second weekend in October and things have been going very well for our duck hunters. A bout of mild 60 degree weather stalled the migration a bit after a great opening, but the weather has now cooled back down now with the first freeze . The ducks have responded with fresh flocks arriving from areas north of us. Hosted a group of hunters from the Houston , Texas area this past week and during an action packed scoter hunt yesterday Mark took his first banded bird in 25 years of waterfowl hunting. A primo drake surf scoter sporting some “bling” ! USFW data showed the drake as a 5 year old bird banded 50 miles NE of here during the WDFW banding efforts in summer 2009. Quite a trophy, that bird is destined for a spot on Mark’s wall.
~ Wow what a couple months ! Haven’t had much of a chance to blog these past couple months as I’ve been out on the boat most days. Although the weather continues to be spectacular, Fall is rapidly approaching- you can smell it in the air . The summer crab season ended after Labor Day weekend and it will go down in the books as one of the best we’ve seen in recent years. Port Townsend Bay was consistently full of big delicious Dungeness crab and the boat averaged a dozen or so 7-9″ “bucks” for the pots each charter- that’s alot of crab dinners ! Here’s to hoping WDFW will give us a winter season in area 6, 9 and 12 so we can drop pots again while we chase the sea ducks. The local bottomfishing season was good, especially the old sandab “honeyhole”, those fish just carpet the bottom there on most days. Fishing on the Coast out of La Push was spectacular as always. We’ve enjoyed such a variety of folks from all over the country in the cabins and out on charters this past few months and wanted to thank them all for making this a great summer season.
Now we look forward to the hunting season as the geese, puddlers, harlequin ducks and scoters are already arriving back from their breeding areas. The other sea ducks ducks will be soon to follow in October. Bandtail pigeon opens September 15th , youth hunting weekend on the 22nd. The General waterfowl season opens October 13th with a 7 bird limit ( including scaup ! ) so we’re busy getting all the decoys , gear and boats set up for another great season of waterfowl hunting !
The 2012 Crab season kicked off July 1st this year, open on a 5 days a week schedule and most summer crabbers have been enjoying plenty of these yummy critters in the crab pots. Our charters have been running combination 1/2 day Bottomfishing/ Dungeness Crabbing trips all month and with the weather absolutely spectacular –Captain Dave, deckhand Spencer have been a busy crew aboard the charter boat Siwash. The boat has been launching from the Fort Worden Marine Science Center Pier mid-morning, setting crab pots in Port Townsend Bay and running south to the sand-dab grounds while the pots “soak”.
This time of year Admiralty Inlet and the Strait are alive with bait, birds and all sorts of marine wildlife — our Port Townsend charters have spotted harbor porpoises, river otters, seals and sea lions, a plethora of marine birds and even a minke whale.
In the past week we’ve hosted groups from California, Texas, Indiana and Florida– great times out on the water (and the making of many yummy dinners ) were had by all.
~ Conventional fishing gear isn’t the only way to enjoy our often “wide open” bottomfishing here on the Peninsula. Many fishermen know the fun of presenting dry flies and small clousers to our plentiful sea run cutthroat trout but when the spring and summer tides are right and fish on the bite we’ll occasionally switch over to the Fly Fishing gear and enjoy some really exciting catch and release fishing for the toothy denizens of our local reefs. Stout rods in 9-12 weight with heavy sinking lines and big bucktail streamer and clousers is the proper gear. We work on casting then drifting flies down to reef level and the fish often cooperate enthusiastically. Black rockfish are somewhat pelagic and chase presented flies all the way to the surface.
Copper rockfish, greenling and lingcod will attack when your fly gets closer to the reef. Most of these fish are in the 1-6 lb range but hang on as LARGE lingcod have been known to chomp down on flies and then the battle really gets interesting !
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~ Port Townsend has been enjoying some excellent weather this month and this weekend was no exception. Cameron, his lovely bride and father-inlaw from West Seattle took some nice fish on Thursday, Dr. Jim caught a bunch Friday then a father/ son, grandson crew from Des Moines enjoyed a sunny Saturday of highs in the mid-70’s and calm seas with lingcod fishing that has been consistently “off the hook ” ! Limits have been the rule on the local Port Townsend fishing charters with keeper lingcod averaging around 28-34 inches and the added bonus of dropping prawn traps in Discovery Bay on shrimp days. Friday and Saturday full pots of big spot prawns came up from the depths destined to be the makings of delicious shrimp cocktail with Tiffany’s famous Mojito’s.