The 2014 summer saltwater salmon fishing got underway Tuesday, July 1, and the fairweather season's first angling contest is just around the corner.
Tickets for the Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers annual family salmon fishing contest, set for July 11-13, are available online at several Whatcom and Skagit county outlets or by calling a club representative
Also, there's still time to go online to the PSA Bellingham Web page, http://www.bellinghampsa.com/derby/tickets.htm, order and pay for via PayPal your $50 derby tickets. The deadline for this purchasing mode is July 7.
Retail outlets for PSA derby tickets include 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.
If either of the above connections is not convenient, call club member Roy Lentz at 360 734-2172 to make the entry buy.
Remember, 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 to fish for the adult cash awards, youngsters must have an adult ticket purchased for them.
Only 500 of the $50 (full-price) admissions to the contest are printed and as long as there are some left, they can be purchased up to 5 p. m. Thursday, July 10.
All purchasers of adult derby tickets for this contest earn an automatic drawing entry in the Northwest Marine Trade Association's annual derby series boat give-away that occurs in September.
This year's NWSDS grand prize package includes the 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.
Also this year the series has added a youth fishing boat package giveaway including a 14-foot River Hawk with a Mercury outboard and trailer that will be awarded by drawing in September.
Anglers and others yearning for a new mount need not buy a derby ticket to enter the boat giveaway, either. 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.
BENEFITS TO SALMON FISHING
A non-profit organization, the Bellingham PSA chapter contributes each year's derby net proceeds to one of a number of this area's fisheries enhancement and educational programs.
The club reports that since 2005 it has donated $48,500 to these causes.
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 as well as 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.
Derby contestants must abide by all state salmon fishing regulations and have a valid Washington fishing license and a salmon catch record card.
DERBY AT A GLANCE
Salmon fishers in pursuit of the winning catch have two and a half days in which to ply the open water zones of Marine Area 7.
On Friday and Saturday the club runs two weigh-in stations, one at Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham, the other at Deer Harbor near the harbor office. On Sunday only one weigh-in station is available at the derby headquarters at Squalicum Harbor.
Staffing hours vary at the two locations, so contestants should check the derby rules for the hours when they can have their catch scaled.
All participating watercraft are required to fly a flag identifying the boat from a distance as a contestant boat and everyone on board of legal fishing age must have either an adult or youth derby entry or risk disqualification of all this onboard.
The full set of rules governing this fishing contest is on line at the Bellingham PSA chapter's Web site: http://bellinghampsa.com/derby.htm.
The awards celebration starts at noon Sunday with food and beverages available. The awards ceremony gets underway at 1 p.m.
SOME WATERS OFF-LIMITS
As saltwater salmon angling start in July, some near-river mouth shore or terminal area waters remain closed to protect still-arriving wild spring and summer chinook heading for North Sound rivers. By rule these estuary waters into which these rivers empty stay closed to either salmon angling or all personal use (recreational) hook and lining.
In northern inland waters these no-fishing zones are in:
? 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 110-111 of the 2014-15 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 now the focus of summer saltwater angling in Puget Sound has been on homeward bound salmon. Seasonal opportunities for lingcod and halibut have come and gone, while fishing for rockfish species is now closed year-around.
Though short there is still a 'keeper' list of marine finfish or food-fish ledger that includes cabezon, pacific cod, pollock and surfperch remain on the menu.
RECIRCULATING HATCHERY STEELHEAD
July and August anglers on the Cowlitz River will get more than one crack at some adipose clipped summer steelhead.
The fish and wildlife department has announced that will start recirculating hatchery steelhead arrivals to its Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery facility.
Around 1,600 summer-runs trapped there will be hauled back down to the Interstate 5 boat launch to reprise their more than 16-mile upstream swim.
At one time this was a regular practice, but it was discontinued when concerns were raised that these recycled cultured-origin fish might stray into breeding areas of wild stock fish.
A two-year study by the U.S. Geological Survey's biological arm found in fact that very few adult steelhead forced to re-swim the last leg of their migration do stray into tributaries or fall in with wild fish.
Research that yielded the information assuring managers and others concerned about wild steelhead populations was funded with revenues the department derives from the sale of the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsements that are required to fish virtually all greater Columbia Basin streams in Washington.
The department and Tacoma Power will split the costs of transporting the adult steelhead and continued monitoring of the program.
Personal use Dungeness crabbing in Marine Area 7 South including waters of greater Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands opens Wednesday, July 17.
Strait of Georgia waters known as Marine Area 7 North will be legal to ply for crab Friday, Aug. 15.
When their respective openings occur both zones may be fished for crab Thursdays through Mondays until Monday, Sept. 29. Crabbers must have a Puget Sound Crab Endorsement in addition to a proper fishing license and must record in ink on their summer crab catch record card their catches for later reporting.
The start of the 2014 black bear hunt in selected areas of Washington including Whatcom and Skagit counties is now 26 days away.
The 2014 spring has again been somewhat unusual for its lack bruin sign (on forest roads, rooting in wet ditches and around marshes or dung on the road).
Complaints of ursine incursions into rural residential backyards however are on the increase in some Western Washington locales.
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.