Personal-use crabbers good to go again Oct. 1

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 29, 2013 

Personal use crabbing resumes at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, in nine of Washington's 11 inland waters sport management areas, including Marine Area 7 (greater Bellingham Bay, Strait of Georgia and the San Juan Islands).

Marine areas 6 (East Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8.1 (Skagit Bay, Hope Island), 8.2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet), also will open, as will south sound marine areas 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (South Sound), and two more Strait of Juan de Fuca zones: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) and the east half of Marine Area 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line and Neah Bay).

Marine areas 10 and 11, consisting of Puget Sound waters from Seattle to Bremerton and from Tacoma to the Vashon Island vicinity, will stay closed. The entire 2013 non-treaty allocation was caught in these two locales during the summer.

In the upcoming fishery, crabbing will be legal seven days a week until the closure on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

Personal use crabbers are reminded that:

? Besides the basic fishing license, they must buy a $8.75 annual Puget Sound Crab Endorsement.

? They also must have a winter catch record card. The first one is free; additional ones may be purchased for $12.60 each.

??Any legal equipment (set-and-forget pots and all tended crab catching gear) may be used.

??The daily bag limits are five male Dungeness crab with shells 6 1/4 inches or wider, not including the lateral points; and six red rock crab of either gender, with shells 5 inches and wider.

??All legal crabs must pass a test for shell hardness.

??The reporting period for this crabbing period begins in January.

The last day to send in or report online your summer crab effort and total take, thereby avoiding future penalty, is Tuesday, Oct. 1. The Internet filing site is at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/wa/crabreport.

BOW HILL PHEASANT SITE NOT YET UP

The opening of the Bow Hill designated release site for the Western Washington general pheasant season has been delayed because of a facilities glitch.

Off-road parking at Ershig Road, originally destined to serve fall hunters, is not available after all.

Fish and wildlife department staff have located an alternative for legal parking but need time to prepare it. Until vehicle access is resolved, the Bow Hill bird hunting site will remain unavailable.

The stocked sites nearest to Bow Hill open for the general season are the Intalco-Alcoa and Lake Terrell units of Whatcom Wildlife Area, west of Ferndale, and the Smith Farm/Leque Island Unit of the Skagit Wildlife Area, west of Stanwood.

Hunters must have a Western Washington Pheasant Permit to hunt both on and off release sites. A basic hunting license is not required. The season ring-neck chit for Washington residents costs $84.50, while the three-day one costs $40.50.

Bird hunters must carry and use only non-toxic shot-charged ammunition on all state fish and wildlife owned or managed lands. Significant penalties come for carrying lead-shot ammo on your person, let alone in the magazine or firing chamber of your firearm, while on these WDFW lands. See page 22 of the Washington State Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet for approved types of non-toxic shot and the zones where their use is required.

Also during the general season, from 8-10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings, entry to the field is governed by the even or odd numbered calendar date system to forestall crowding.

Hunters make the even or odd selection when they buy their Western Washington pheasant permits, and the selection is noted on the permit. Families and friends who hunt weekends must synchronize their choice to get an early start as a party Saturdays and Sundays.

After 10 a.m. on weekends, fields are open to all permit holders.

Pheasants will be released on Terrell and Intalco fields on one weekday evening and Fridays and Saturday evenings for both weekend days. BP lands will get birds for the weekend.

While boundaries remain the same as past years in most areas, bird hunters on the BP Cherry Point Unit should note the change in safety zoning there.

The Western Washington pheasant hunt ends in most locales on Saturday, Nov. 30. However, some westside sites without waterfowl hunting conflicts remain open through mid-December.

THE RAZOR DIGS OF OCTOBER

While the fall 2013 season as a whole is yet to be fully fleshed out, two sets of evening digs involving four of the five management beaches in Washington's coast have been penciled onto the immediate October calendar.

Both are on low tide sequences that occur around or after sunset, so diggers will need to bring their own illumination.

Coming this week, the first dig set is:

??Friday, Oct. 4, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches with low tide at 6:56 p.m.

??Saturday, Oct. 5, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches with low tide at 7:36 p.m.

??Sunday, Oct. 6, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks beaches with low tide at 8:17 p.m.

??Monday, Oct. 7, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks beaches with low tide at 9 p.m.

??Tuesday, Oct. 8, on Twin Harbors beach only with low tide at 9:48 p.m.

The six-consecutive-day late October stanza is:

??Thursday, Oct. 17, on Twin Harbors beach only, with low tide at 6:15 p.m.

??Friday, Oct. 18, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks with low tide at 6:57 p.m.

??Saturday, Oct. 19, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks with low tide at 7:38 p.m.

??Sunday, Oct. 20, on Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks with low tide at 8:16 p.m.

??Monday, Oct. 21, on Twin Harbors and Mocrocks with low tide at 8:55 p.m.

??Tuesday, Oct. 22, on Twin Harbors beach with low tide at 9:34 p.m.

These opportunities are contingent on marine toxin levels staying low. Testing, followed by an announcement will occur a week in advance of each.

Diggers are advised to arrive and start to prospect for clams an hour before slack ebb.

To avoid long lines at coastal dealer counters,buy razor clam licenses in advance online or at your hometown dealer. Also, beach visitors need to be aware of where they can drive and park while in coastal areas, as well as where the no-dig sanctuaries in each management sector are. These are set aside to monitor for razor populations.

COMING UP IN OCTOBER

With so many opportunities from which to choose, October is perhaps the most challenging month for outdoors enthusiasts.

In Northwest Washington, the early muzzleloader deer season straddles the turn of the month running into the first week of October. Local blackpowder stalkers have pretty much the run of the county (GMUs 407, 418 and 426) to look for black-tailed deer.

We're also in the cycle of longest modern firearm general seasons. This year's Saturday, Oct. 12, start affords 20 days of black-tailed hunting west of the Cascades, and all GMU options in Whatcom and Skagit counties are on the table.

Ducks and geese also become fair game Saturday, Oct. 12, with the immediate quarry composed of resident or local web-foot production. For these birds under reasonably balmy skies, a proactive approach such as stalking or jump shooting is recommended.

For anglers, streams and lakes that are open for the summer trout and gamefish season enter their last month of availability.

Given the substantial rains expected, lowland and foothills streams that normally flow as trickles this time of year may be full to their seasonal brim, which is not necessarily a negative thing for fall fishers.

Lakes, too, especially those in the foothills, will present a different side to anglers, and now is an excellent time to visit them, with the shrinking daylight hours motivating trout to feed more aggressively.

This also is the last month of the year in which anglers may pursue Ross Lake's wild rainbows. In recent years these trout have bulked up substantially, feasting on red-sided shiners. For day visitors at the reservoir's south end, Ross Lake Resort, together with its comfortable accommodations, rents kicker boats by the day.

Check the resort's Web site, http://www.rosslakeresort.com/, for the latest conditions.

River angling in the Nooksack moves in the first full month of fall from humpies, which are now largely a smelly memory on their spawning grounds, to incoming coho and fall chinook salmon as well as sea-run cutthroat and bull trout.

If you're still in the hunt for smokehouse humpies there are a few pinks to be had in the Skagit, Stillaguamish and other rivers to the south, before the salmon cycle gives way to waves of silvers and dogs.

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://pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.

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