Winter fishing contests nearing conclusion

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 22, 2014 

With spring's official arrival, there are now a little more than five weeks remaining in the 2013-14 Puget Sound winter blackmouth fishing season, and the saltwater angling competitions are winding down.

Most inland marine waters close April 30 for several months, as spring Chinook course their way up to the doorstep of their natal Puget Sound streams.

The Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club held its Bayside Marina Everett Blackmouth Derby Saturday, March 22, offering $3,000 for the biggest king landed.

The Anacortes-based Puget Sound Angler affiliate's limited-entry blackmouth derby set for Saturday and Sunday, March 29-30, has sold out its self-limited quota of entries.

The Fidalgo-San Juan Islands Chapter of PSA offers a $15,000 prize for the top fish in its event and turns all proceeds after expenses to educational scholarships for Skagit area students.

According to the club's website, one of last year's student beneficiaries received more than $8,000 to study IHN, a virulent sockeye salmon disease, in the Skagit River.

The only way now to break into this contest's ranks is to talk a ticket holder into transferring you their chit at anacortessalmonderby.com/transfer.htm.

If you're an uncommitted PSA member, there's at least one more chance to score a money fish from Marine Area 6's Mid-channel Bank before the winter stanza closes. The Sno-King PSA chapter is holding a one-day invitational derby on April 5 out of Point Hudson Marina, near Port Townsend, that's open to the greater body of Puget Sound Anglers members.

The event includes a pre-contest dinner and a catered awards banquet the night of the contest. More information available at pugetsoundanglers.org/2014PSADerbyApril5.pdf.

The Everett derby closes the blackmouth portion of the 2014 Northwest Salmon Derby Series. The next NSDS fishing contest is the Bellingham PSA family fishing contest set for July 11-13.

NSDS sponsors select events that focus on harvest of marked hatchery origin salmon while encouraging contestants and anglers to release non-marked fish. Participants in NSDS-affiliated fishing contests are entered in a sport fishing boat giveaway, as well.

LOCAL CLUBS ACTIVE

With the Northwest Washington Steelheader fund-raising event now in the books, the Coastal Conservation Association North Sound Chapter is putting the finishing touches on its annual dinner and auction that's set for Saturday, April 12, at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club.

Tickets are $75 for singles and $140 for couples and include a one-year membership in CCA. Tickets are available from chapter board members, at Yeager's Sporting Goods or online at ccawashington.org/NorthSound.

In addition to the fisheries advocacy and environmental initiatives undertaken by CCA's national and state organizations, the local chapter spearheads efforts to remove derelict nets from the Nooksack River and distributes hatchery-derived salmon carcasses to Nooksack basin streams for nutrient enhancement.

CCA members also attempt to draw youth into fish conservation and fishing by holding fly and seasonal holiday ornament tying sessions each fall.

The North Sound group, representing recreational fishers in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties, meets the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Bob's Burgers and Brew on Old Highway 99 and Cook Road near Burlington.

With their event still several weeks out, North Sound CCA members are still seeking donated goods and services for their auction event.

Fishing-related items are appreciated but the chapter will take in a wide variety of things, including art, antiques, crafts, health and beauty products, food samplers, toys and gardening gear.

Donations can be made by contacting Chapter Chair Meghan Hallam at 360-510-9563 or Frank Koterba 360-927-0544.

The Bellingham Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers also will benefit from the donation of goods and services.

In this case, the contributed items go onto their prize roster and are awarded to contestants entering landed salmon summer season kick-off salmon derby.

This is a family-oriented fishing event, and they have a special kid's division that would benefit from prize donation. You can also make a cash donation to sponsor the purchase of prizes.

PSA Bellingham is online at bellinghampsa.com/. To donate, contact Glen Gilbertson at 360-543-9079.

BELLINGHAM GUN CLUB OPEN

If you haven't racked or packed away your scattergun, the Bellingham Gun Club is now open Sundays for trap and skeet shooting.

This member-supported clay-target shooting range is located just east of Northwest Road on Larsen Road. Doors open around 10 a.m., and club members will stay around usually until mid-afternoon.

There is a fee per round for non-members, and they also will enroll you as a full-fledged Bellingham Club gunner, which nets regular shooters a savings.

If you are curious about trap or skeet shooting and just want to try it out, there is always a veteran member who will give you a chance to toe the line and smoke a clay target or two under their expert tutelage.

This is a safety-first range, and instruction will always include a briefing on range gun handling and shooting rules and etiquette.

Families are welcome, but young children must stay in the clubhouse with a responsible adult.

JUST AROUND THE CORNER

LFS Marine and Outdoors has scheduled its annual shrimp, halibut and lingcod seminars for April 12, in Bellingham. More about this annual fishing tutorial next week.

Also April 26 is the customary seasonal milestone for the resumption of trout fishing in lakes throughout Washington.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, writes a weekly fishing and hunting column that appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at bellinghamherald.com/outdoors-blog/.

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