By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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By all accounts, the opening month of the winter salmon season on the Strait of Juan de Fuca ended on a high note.
“It has picked up considerably,” Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.
“People are definitely catching some fish now. It was good all weekend.”
I'm tempted to call this a good omen for the 2013 saltwater fishing, but since the increase happened on the last few days of last year I am more inclined to think it is actually a cruel parting joke courtesy of 2012.
Whatever it is, we'll take it, right?
There was one spot that was especially productive.
“The Winter Hole was really good last weekend,” Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.
“A few people did well off Protection Island, but the Winter Hole has been much hotter.”
Aunspach said another spot to try is Freshwater Bay, but echoed Menkal that the Winter Hole has been the best spot.
The blackmouth fishery was expected to improve as the weeks passed, but Aunspach said the tides are also a factor in the recent success.
“It will continue to pick up throughout January and February,” he said.
“It will play a lot on the tides. The outgoing tides always cause the fishing to pick up.”
Menkal and Aunspach both recommend using bait to reel in your blackmouth.
“Bait is working the best,” Aunspach said.
“Guys mooching for herring are doing the best.”
Aunspach went out himself over the weekend.
He and his boat caught six blackmouth, but only one was big enough to keep.
But along with the quantity caught, the size of the fish is also increasing.
“There were some real nice ones toward the end [of December],” Aunspach said.
Here are the results for the Swain's December salmon derby:
■ Winner: Tony Dunscomb — 17 pounds, 9 ounces.
■ Second place: Lyle Newell — 16 pounds, 10 ounces.
■ Third place: Ron Gustafson — 13 pounds.
■ Fourth place: Derek Madison — 10 pounds.
Speaking of salmon derbies, tickets are on sale for the 2013 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby.
As usual, this derby will take place over Presidents Day weekend (Feb. 16-18), and it benefits emergency and other vital services for Gardiner, Diamond Point and nearby communities.
It features more than 500 square miles of fishing with weigh stations at five different launch ramps: Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner and Port Townsend Boat Haven.
First prize is $10,000.
Tickets are $40 for all three days. They can be purchased online at www.GardinerSalmonDerby.org.
Tickets are also sold at retailers throughout the North Olympic Peninsula, including Brian's Sporting Goods and More in Sequim; Four Corners Store, Fish N Hole and Westside Marine in Port Townsend; Olympic Equipment Rental (formerly Just Ask Rentals) in Port Hadlock; Longhouse Market and Deli in Blyn; and Swain's General Store in Port Angeles.
Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at email@example.com.