The summer saltwater salmon season starts Monday, July 1, and tickets for the Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers' annual family salmon fishing contest, set for July 12-14, are still on sale.
Get tickets at Clearwater Marine Services on Home Road off West Bakerview Road, Dave's Sports Shop at the Fairway Shopping Center in Lynden, Holiday Sports Center off Highway 20 in Burlington, LFS Marine and Outdoors off Roeder Avenue in Bellingham and Yeager's Sporting Goods on Northwest Avenue in Bellingham.
You can also go to the PSA Bellingham Web page, http://www.bellinghampsa.com/derby/tickets.htm, to order your $50 derby tickets and pay for them via Paypal.
Kids age 12 and under may fish this contest for free in the youth division (in the company of a paying adult) for their own set of prizes, but if they want their catches to vie for adult prizes, they must have an adult ticket purchased.
A limit of 500 of the $50 (full-price) tickets are available, and any remaining can be purchased until 5 p.m. Thursday, July 11.
All purchasers of adult derby tickets earn an automatic entry in the Northwest Marine Trade Association's annual boat give-away in September.
This year's NWSDS grand prize package includes a 21-foot River Hawk boat, a Mercury four-stroke 150 horsepower engine and a tandem axle Karavan boat trailer plus Scotty Downriggers, a suite of Lowrance electronics and a dual stereo system.
Persons need not buy a derby ticket to enter the boat giveaway. Anyone can fill out a NWSDS raffle ticket at the derby headquarters during the event, or log onto http://northwestsalmonderbyseries.com/ and fill out a survey form to enter the drawing.
Fishing contest rules are online at Bellingham PSA chapter's Web site: http://bellinghampsa.com/derby.htm. Derby contestants must abide by all state salmon fishing regulations and have a valid Washington fishing license and a salmon catch record card.
BENEFITS TO SALMON FISHING
A non-profit organization, the Bellingham PSA chapter contributes the net proceeds of each year's derby to one of a number of local fisheries enhancement and educational programs.
To date about $35,000 has been donated.
Past recipients have included the Bellingham Technical School's Fisheries and Aquaculture Program, which operates the Maritime Heritage Center Fish Hatchery; high school salmon hatchery projects at Blaine, Ferndale and Lynden Christian high school; and Long Live the Kings and Fish Northwest.
Bellingham PSA meets for dinner (6:30 p.m.) and a program (7 p.m.) every third Wednesday each month (except August) in Bellingham at Nicki's Bella Marina Restaurant at Squalicum Harbor.
SOME WATERS OFF-LIMITS
When saltwater salmon angling starts in earnest early in the summer, to protect still-arriving wild spring and summer chinook heading for north sound rivers, the estuaries into which these rivers empty will stay closed to either salmon angling or all personal use (recreational) hook and lining.
These no-fishing zones include:
? Greater Bellingham Bay (in Marine Area 7, opens Thursday, Aug. 16).
? Skagit Bay/Saratoga Passage (all of Marine Area 8-1, opens Wednesday, Aug. 1).
? Port Susan (in Marine Area 8-2, opens Wednesday, Aug. 1).
? Port Gardner (in Marine Area 8-2, opens Wednesday, Aug. 1).
? South Rosario/East Straits (in Marine Area 7, opens Monday, Oct. 1).
You'll find an Area 7 map and details on pages 108-109 of the Fish Washington regulations.
The mid-August lifting of the greater Bellingham Bay closure is in time for the arrival of the fall stock hatchery chinook bound for Samish Hatchery and the lower Nooksack River.
For about a decade, the focus of summer angling in Puget Sound has been on homeward bound salmon.
The keeper list of marine finfish this time of year is short. If you want to go after bottomfish, cabezon, pacific cod, pollock and surfperch remain on the menu.
CLOSE-IN CHINOOK HAUNTS
In July for Bellingham salmon anglers, especially those in smaller, open boats, there are some traditional close-in haunts for fair-weather or short-day excursions.
? Carter Point: One of those boundary line spots at the southern tip of Lummi Island. Its deep waters are closed on the eastern, Bellingham Bay side, and open on the west.
? Alden Bank: A submarine rise due west of Sandy Point. It has nicely tapered, relatively smooth slopes from the submerged summit that permit contour trolling at various depths, especially around slack tides.
? Lummi Rocks: Just south of the center point on Lummi Island's Rosario (west) shore. There is a deep inside channel as well as an outer, broken rocky bottom with lots of eddies to draw in bait fish and thus chinook. The outside can be a downrigger ball-grabber, though.
? Eagle Bluff: The northernmost of two iconic salmon fishing haunts on the west side of Cypress Island. The bottom off the bluff and into the cove is somewhat rocky, but those who tease the maximum depth trolling the loop there are very likely to tie onto a king at some point.
The San Juan Islands are renowned for salmon hotspots, although they require crossing some open waters that can blow up even in summer, surprisingly enough on clear, sunny days.
Keep the volume up on the VHF radio or eavesdrop a conversation dockside and you'll likely hear names such as Point Lawrence (Orcas), President Channel, Point Doughty and Lover's Cove - all watery locales associated with Orcas Island.
Also likely to be mentioned are Point Caution, Limekiln and Cattle Point landmarks, as some waters around San Juan Island are known.
Turn Point, Skipjack Island, Boundary Buoy, Sucia Island and its Hummer Hole Matia Island and Thatcher Pass also are waters known to produce salmon.
Each place has its sweet spot, a period during the daily tide cycle when the likelihood of hooking a big king increases. That type of information is hard-won by those who have it and difficult to elicit.
But in general, you should look for schools of bait, keep your lures or herring baits in the water and troll or mooch them in a range of depths.
A MONTH TO BRUIN HUNTS
The start of black bear season in Whatcom and Skagit counties is now 33 days away.
The 2013 spring has been somewhat unusual for its lack of bruin sign (on forest roads, rooting in wet ditches and around marshes or dung on the road).
That doesn't mean the bears are not here, just that they're starting their annual period of activity with a different routine this year. The spoor that has shown up in June does appear to be from animals not long out their dens and yet to start eating large amounts of green vegetation.
Another departure from the norm this year will potentially affect bruin behavior this fall. The snowpack on north and east slopes above 4,500 feet is lingering and that may delay the high berry crop in some locales.
Changes in road access on the national forest and state timber lands, coupled with these environmental changes, make July scouting key for August bruin hunters.
POTENTIAL PANELISTS SOUGHT
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Program is seeking candidates for appointment to two citizen panels, its game management and wildlife diversity advisory councils.
The game management group focuses on hunting-related issues including lands access, seasons for modern and primitive weapons and prioritization of game animal studies and assessments. The GMAC meets three times a year.
Wildlife diversity group members provide perspective on the management of this state's non-hunted species, ranging from amphibians to marine mammals. WDAC members convene twice annually.
Both councils may be invited to attend special topics gatherings outside their regular schedule and all members may apply for travel expense reimbursement.
Previous terms for all seats on both panels have expired, so agency divisions are seeking to fill all 17 positions on the WDAC and the 25 on the GMAC. All new panelists will serve until June 30, 2016.
Nominations will be accepted through the close of business on Monday, July 15, and the agency encourages those who have served on either panel to reapply.
Only applications in writing will be taken and they must include the committee for which the candidate is being recommended, plus the candidate's full name, address and phone/email contact information.
The formal note also should include the person's experience, demonstrated ability to communicate and expressions of their motivation for serving.
If a group is making a nomination, its name and contact info must be included.
Send formal application letters for the GMAC to Game Division Manager Dave Ware at David.Ware@dfw.wa.gov or for the WDAC to Wildlife Diversity Division Manager Eric Gardner at Eric.Gardner@dfw.wa.gov.
Hard copies can be mailed to both managers c/o Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pbogs.belinghamherald.com/outdoor.