Local seminars make for better saltwater fishers

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 29, 2014 

A quartet of seminars aimed at getting you to be a more effective fisher of salmon, halibut, shrimp and other saltwater denizens, offered by LFS Marine and Outdoors, is coming up Saturday, April 12.

No matter how much you already know, there are always new twists and little tidbits that can come your way to improve your hook and line prowess. These gatherings also provide the opportunity to meet old friends that you may only see on the water or hear over the VHS radio; you can introduce yourself to and form strong bonds with many other anglers.

These free, 72-minute tutorials will be held throughout the day at Zuanich Point Park's Squalicum Boathouse and you may sign up for a seat at any one or all of them.

The schedule is as follows:

?8:30 a.m. - Getting to know and more out of your fish finder.

?10 a.m. - Salmon fishing secrets for local waters.

?11:30 a.m. - Halibut fishing tips.

?1 p.m. - Shrimping the San Juans.

Presenters of each of these seminars are some of the most experienced in their speciality and respected for the first-hand hard-won and detailed knowledge they impart.

Steve Chamberlin once hunted intently for adversary submarines and now the retired navy sonarman and avid saltwater fisher translates his understanding of capabilities of popular acoustic detection instruments into finding and prosecuting salmon to a catch.

Among the characteristics of today's consumer fish-finding electronics Chamberlin will discuss, or make suggestions for optimizing, are the range of frequencies available, transducer detection cone angles and adjustment settings for displays.

He'll also lend some clarity to the arcane complexities of CHIRP, an acronym for a field that combines analysis of signal propagation and reception characteristics that would take far more space to explain then we have here.

Eric Havland is a long-time plier of San Juan Islands waters who will cover what he considers to be the most critical elements of successful saltwater salmon fishing.

At the top of this list are understanding movements of marine waters, how salmon and bait relate to these flows, and the best times to fish these roily and tumultuous environs. Besides the tides, he'll also talk about the range of baits, both soft and hard, that can be used, how to 'tune' them, and the main ways to present them from simply mooching to dropping a downrigger ball.

Also included will be an overview of the salmon species found here and the calendar months when it makes sense to go after them.

John Beath has made flatties a key focus of his personal and professional efforts throughout his lengthy recreational angling and outdoors communications career. Whether you're out for 'barndoors' or 'chicks', in this seminar Beath will outline his encyclopedic knowledge of the breadth of halibut terminal tackle, the right jigging rods, reels and lines to use and the most effective ways and even some places to employ them. There are few anglers around today with Beath's knowledge of, and experience with, such a wide range of bottomfish lure rigs as well as the tried-and-true, horse herring spreader bar presentation method.

Zack Miller has come to be recognized because of his passion for and experience in pursing prawns in the San Juans as LFS's in-house shrimp fishing expert. His talk is a tour-de-force of the basics of spot shrimp fishing that starts with the selection of the right pot gear and pullers (ropes and buoy riggings, too) that meet both the legal requirements of the regulations and the rigors of the deep, periodically fast-flowing waters in which these delectable shellfish dwell.

Miller also will discuss baits chosen for their staying power in the pot and irresistability to these shrimp as well as where and when to set for both the larger spots (prawns) and smaller shallower-dwelling shrimp species of the 'popcorn' persuasion.

If you've a yen for fresh shrimp from the expanded season and an aversion to losing gear, Miller's presentation will help you be more successful at less cost.

LFS Marine and Outdoors has put on these informative fishing classes for many years and they are both popular and well-attended.

A note pad and perhaps a reduced size marine chart depicting the local waters can come in handy as does an audience chair.

Don't risk getting a standing room only spot or being shut out entirely with an unannounced pop-in. Call the Bellingham LFS store at 360 734-3336 or stop by at 851 Coho Way just off Roeder Avenue at Squalicum Harbor to reserve a seat for each session you want to sit in on.

COLUMBIA WATER WHIRLED

In response to the abrupt drawdown of Lake Wanapum behind Wanapum Dam south of Vantage in Central Washington, the state fish and wildlife department issued an emergency declaration Friday, March 21, for Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Kittittas counties affecting enforcement and administration of the state hydraulics code.

After finding a crack in one of the dam's spillways in February, Grant County PUD later dramatically drained the reservoir behind Wanapum as well as the next upstream structure Rock Island Dam just below Wenatchee to reduce water weight pressure on both.

WDFW officials recognized that the drawdowns were leaving some irrigator intakes dry and they are allowing persons and companies with water rights time to reconfigure and test intakes under a streamlined administrative process so that valuable fruit orchards and other agricultural crops aren't damaged.

State law requires that irrigation intakes be effectively designed and screened to prevent entrainment into the system or the pinning by flow of juvenile fish against screens.

State and PUD officials also will assess how best, with new managed lower water levels, to facility the passage of upstream bound adult salmon, steelhead and other fish species over both dams via their fish ladders.

Upstream-bound at this time and through the summer will be federally protected Upper Columbia River spring chinook and Upper Columbia River summer steelhead together with sockeye and coho salmon as well as a few sturgeon and shad.

WDFW managers also will be assessing during the drawdown period through the end of April how to adjust public and private accesses for recreational uses of the river behind both dams.

A cautionary warning has been issued to visitors trying to enter the now-exposed portions of reservoir bottoms that there is the risk of entrapment in deep mud. Ill-equipment and inexperienced persons have already had to be rescued after sinking into and getting stuck in the mire.

HERE AND AROUND THE CORNER

Razor clam digging is now a morning affair on Washington's Pacific Coast beaches. Occurring to today, Sunday, March 30, is the annual transition from digs on evening minus tides to the AM cycle runouts.

Saltwater salmon seekers are about to enter the last month of their 2013-14 winter blackmouth soiree in the San Juans and elsewhere on Washington's inland waters.

The recreational rules in April require anglers to release all kings that have intact adipose fins intact as they are likely to be native or naturally produced chinook of one or another of Puget Sound's major river systems that are protected under both federal and state threatened and endangered species laws.

And surprise, at least one of these secure chinook has been detected gliding safely into home.

Hatchery specialists at the state's Marblemount Hatchery, 78.8 miles upstream from the Skagit River's mouth, reported Thursday, March 14, that it had billeted its first spring king, a bonafide hatchery fish, of the 2014 run.

WDFW's Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery near Salkum in Lewis County also has reported the arrival of its first spring chinook, two of hatchery origin, one wild.

In hatchery news closer to home, Whitehorse Hatchery on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River reports making its egg take for both winter and summer stocks of cultured steelhead, this done in advance of Saturday March 22's deadly landslide at Hazel near the community of Oso.

The wild counterpart populations of those to races of steelhead stand to be severely impacted by the huge slide and its affect on upstream migration and juvenile rearing though the clay-dominated slide was down below the spawning areas of the summer run fish.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that appears Sundays.

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