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 !
~ 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.
~ Lingcod season opened West of the Sekiu river/ Area 4 this week and the guys from “Team Ling Hammer ” assembled for a couple days of camping and fishing on the West end. Most of the accommodations at Sekiu are still closed with the halibut opener yet a couple weeks away but Chris from Van Ripers Resort was gracious enough to let our team set our headquarters up in their great waterfront campground. Wind and weather cooperated enough to get out most of the day Monday and then again Tuesday morning and the fish did not disappoint. Many lingcod were caught and released during both days with the kept fish averaging 30″ and up . Cabezon, seabass and rockfish showed as well. Kasey took honors of the trip pot with three lingcod all over 30lbs and the biggest ling topping out at 40 lbs. Big Hammer swimbaits fished on 65# braid and shock leaders in 40-60 feet of water was the top bait– plus Braid thumper squid, live greenling and a variety of Chris Englehart custom lures took fish as well. It was a great Sekui opener and we’re all very excited for the prospects of the local lingcod and halibut openings in the rest of the Strait/ Sound that first week of May.
~ The onset of the warmer spring rains have brought out one of our favorite little critters on the property and the namesake of our Cabins– the Pacific Tree Frog. The night is alive with sounds of these little guys calling to their mates from the woods and wetlands. Since we don’t hear much from crickets here in the wet Northwest these guys bring a welcome chime to the evening and let us know that spring is well underway.
~ Well it’s not quite spring yet around Port Townsend but there has been the occasional sun break and with the weather improving on our way into spring it’s motivated us out of the cabin and down to the local shoreline for some great clam digging excursions. Those small Manila and littleneck “steamer” clams are the prize and if one can dig enough of them you will have the makings of a very delicious dinner for your entire family. (the sport limit is 40 per digger and this is seldom a problem on our healthy local tidelands) Served simply, clams are the key ingredient to a great meal. In a shallow, covered pot briefly steam them in vegetable broth, garlic, fresh herbs and a splash of your favorite Port Townsend Brewery ale. Wait until just after the clams fully open and enjoy them with a loaf of artisan bread. Fresh steamed clams are a treat to enjoy this time of year.
Western Washington finally got its dose of winter weather this past week. Well over a foot of the white stuff fell here in Port Townsend and over 2 feet in surrounding areas. My buddies Doug and Sean from Saskatchewan were up for the challenging weather– heck they’re from Sask., this is nothing for them ! Roads and highways were a mess w/ many closed, snowed in and couldn’t get the big boats out of our road here but we persisted with the skiff and the big green Ford 4×4 to get us around and were rewarded with some great end of the season hunting. The guys took a nice mix of salt ducks. The NE wind blew us off the water by mid-morning, but the gunning was fierce while we were out. Good am flight in the blizzard with plenty of puddlers around looking for sheltered waters with the regular mix of sea ducks. One more week to go out here. the snow if melting off but the weather still blustery and WET. Great duck weather for the final week.
The weather finally provided enough of a break for heading offshore to set a big oldsquaw rig on a few hundred birds we had spotted feeding the ledge this past few weeks. Birds were diving in 60-90 feet of water so we had to get creative on the dekes and longlines. Dawn broke and the long-tailed ducks consistently buzzed the rig all morning. Alot of hens and juvies were passed on, but our hunter from North Carolina held strong and before too long took a few dandies. Pat McGruder at Avian Arts, Dallas has some amazing taxidermy work planned for these prime drakes.
There isn’t anything better this time of year than a crisp morning in the blind waiting on the sea ducks to fly… and all the while the crab pots soak and fill with delectable winter Dungeness Crab. After the hunts we pack up the gear and trophy birds from the morning shoot then head back to cabins and shop, put on the boil pot of fresh Bay seawater and give those crabs a little Jacuzzi. This last group of hunters from Minnesota polished off a nine crab lunch in record time. The smiles say it all… It’s good living in the Pacific Northwest!
Our first significant storm of the season blew in today as the tail end of a whopper that hit Coastal Alaska dipped down into Salish Sea waters on its way out. The incoming storm made for a dramatic sunrise over the decoy rig this morning. Before the majority of heavy rain and wind hit, our crew was safely off the water with our birds by mid-morning. Heavy rain and wind over 45+ kts affected the area throughout the afternoon and early evening hours. Temps were near 60 degrees w/ sun the day prior… what a difference a day can make in the weather around here this time of year!