Outdoors

Annual kids versus bluegill contest at Fazon Lake set for Saturday

The Borderline Bassin’ Contenders Club will hold its annual kid’s fishing contest, the Rudy Horat Memorial Bluegill Tournament, at Fazon Lake Saturday, June 20.

Youth age 14 and under are eligible to compete in this free two and a half hour angling contest that focuses on Fazon’s prodigious bluegill sunfish population.

Registration for this fish and wildlife department-sanctioned event starts at 10 a.m. with young angler contestants plying the greater Goshen area waters in earnest from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Every contestant gets a small tackle pack and soft drink while the main prizes are awarded to anglers in three separate age groups (ages 0-5, 6-9 and 10-14) who catch the most bluegill. No other fish may be entered. Other prizes will go to the fisher(s) with the biggest as well as the smallest bluegill.

Each contestants catch must be kept in a separate container.

There is no publicly accessible shoreline from which to fish Fazon’s shallow, marsh-bounded confines. But there’s a solid concrete puncheon ramp for small trailered boats and ample parking, both belonging to the fish and wildlife department.

Once on the lake, there’s plenty of open water for boat maneuvering as well as long stretches of weedy shore along which to seek bluegills.

Fishing successfully for bluegies does not require sophisticated (expensive) rods and reels nor does the terminal tackle need to be complicated.

The small-mouthed bluegills go for small baits from chunks of red worm or single eggs to equally tiny jigs or fly patterns.

The best means of presentation for those baited hooks, fly patterns or tiny brightly colored jigs is to suspend them three to five feet under needle or globe-style bobbers.

Fazon’s waters are open year-round, though there’s a seasonal ban on fishing from boats during the fall waterfowl hunting season.

Regulations are the least complicated on Fazon with statewide rules applying to all gamefish except for the daily keeper limit of channel catfish that is dropped to two bewhiskered fish per day there.

Besides the aforementioned cats, Fazon fishers also are likely to encounter a range of largemouth bass including a very few that might verge on ‘hog’ size.

The Borderline Bassin Contenders want to recognize and thank donors to this year’s Rudy Horat Memorial Bluegill Tournament including West Marine, Fidalgo Bay Coffee, Holiday Sports, Yeager’s Sporting Goods, Whatcom Comm, and Bob’s Burgers and Brew.

Also on the 2015 donors list are Platt Electric, North Coast Electric, Dave’s Sports Shop, Everson Market, Hardware Sales, and F&V Able Electric Company.

The club also is raffling a $500 Cabela’s gift card with entry tickets, costing $10 each, sold to persons age 18 and older. Sales are capped at 300 tickets and the winner will not have to be present

The Borderline Bassin’ Contenders are affiliated with the Washington State Bass Federation and also participate annually in both hunting and fishing season- and regulation-setting processes. They also send representatives to some sessions of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

SKAGIT SOCKEYE FAIRGAME TUESDAY

Sockeye salmon heading for the Skagit basin’s Baker River are the focus of new up to 30-day personal use angling opportunity that opens in the lower Skagit River between Mount Vernon and Gilligan Creek Tuesday, June 16.

This will be the first of two cracks hook and line anglers get at 2015’s run of adult reds bent on spawning in the Baker River Valley. On July 10 Baker Lake opens for the taking of adult sockeye.

As of now these will likely be Western Washington’s only options for reds this year since Lake Washington’s run is forecast to be well below its spawning escapement goal.

This year’s Baker sockeye run is expected to number 46,268 adults of which just over 8,000 are designated for spawning strategies.

The 17.5-mile lower Skagit’s sockeye section is legally bounded by the Memorial Highway Bridge (State Route 536 span) in Mount Vernon (river mile 11.4) on the downstream end and Gilligan Creek (river mile 28.8) on the upstream end.

For reference, the Gardner Road ramp at Burlington is 18 miles upstream from the Skagit’s mouth while the Highway 9 Bridge southwest of Sedro-Woolley at river mile 22.5.

THE ANGLING MENU

For this section’s fishery, the daily or bag limit is three adult sockeye (12 inches or longer).

Besides the sockeye, anglers also may keep two trout, a minimum of 14 inches long, each day including hatchery (adipose fin-clipped) steelhead (20-inch or longer sea-run rainbow) or wild bull trout that are 20 inches or longer.

Chinook and all other salmon hooked and brought to hand by anglers must be released alive and unharmed. Also, sturgeon that are caught must be released.

Anglers here may use bait. The night closure rule also is imposed on this fishery allowing angling only from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset each day.

OTHER LEGAL NECESSITIES

While youth age 14 and younger may fish for free without basic paperwork, to legally partake of this opportunity all others, both resident or non-resident alike, need some form of a 2015-16 Washington fishing license.

These include annual versions of the combination (salt- and fresh-water) or freshwater only documents. Temporary (one- to three-day, lower priced) fishing licenses will do as well.

However, everyone to be able to keep landed sockeye, must obtain and carry a free multi-species (for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut) catch record card. CRCs must be carried and used by all anglers regardless of age and license status steelhead, sturgeon, halibut and salmon.

HOW AND WHERE

Reds are known to scoot through lower river areas quickly, so being on the river with gear in the water when a school of sockeye passes through is critical to success.

Boat-borne anglers are well advised to avoid fishing deeper or faster flowing water as sockeye on the move generally exploit the ‘softer’ fringes of current including cutting across shallower upper contours of river bend bars.

Whether in a boat or on the bank a significant number of Skagit sockeye anglers are going to use either pink No. 4 wing-bobbers or No. 6 Corkies with a whole sand-shrimp slung below.

Alternatively, instead of the soft bait, anglers can accent the hard bait with a small pink hoochie skirt.

Anglers should be aware that on ‘leveed’ stretches of river where you seemingly can get tantalizingly close to the river, either the diking district itself or the owner of the land on which the levee is located restrict or deny access. Would-be fishers are obligated to know the status of riverbank property and always seek permission if required before venturing out to fish.

Unlike some streams and even other sections of the Skagit, the Mount Vernon to Gilligan Creek reach has quite ample accessibility for public fishing.

At Mount Vernon, Edgewater Park on the west side of the river just below the Memorial Bridge provides boat fishers access to the lower end of the sockeye fishery. Be careful not to keep sockeye until you are upstream of the bridge, though.

The fish and wildlife department’s Young’s Bar access, also in West Mount Vernon, and the city’s Lion’s Park off Freeway Drive are alternative sockeye accesses.

In Burlington, ample bank space can be found in the city’s lengthy Skagit River Park complex that starts just above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe bridge at Johnson’s Bar and runs up to the Roger Tjeerdsma Access and its broad concrete ramp at the foot of Gardner Road off East Rio Vista Avenue. Additional street accesses to this park are off Whitmarsh and East Gilkey roads.

One of the best river sections for boat-borne fishers is the broad, slow-moving stretch of water just above and below the Gardner Road launch.

An excellent section for dry access is the southside river bank along the South Skagit Highway upstream of the State Route 9 crossing. Anglers can start at the bank under the state bridge itself.

Off-limits are the private homes along that stretch and the bank within 100 feet of the Skagit County PUD intake building.

On the north side of the river in the vicinity of Sedro-Woolley, the venerable Stink Hole at the foot of Fruitdale Road is the best spot for unrestricted access. Elsewhere though, tribal and private ownerships predominate on north side banks.

The City of Sedro-Woolley’s Riverfront Park on River Road east of Township Street also has a good launch ramp, though it can be in the current sometimes.

The Skagit’s in-river sockeye opportunity is intended to last 30 days but could close early if 20 percent of the reserved portion of the non-treaty allocation is landed. Also open now is the Skagit’s up-river spring chinook reach. When both these fisheries end, salmon fishing in the Skagit will not resume until the first of September.

The sockeye salmon limit in the lower Skagit River was corrected June 15, 2015.

This week’s Skagit hatchery and flow info

FACILITY (Stock/Species)

Marblemount Hatchery (Skagit spring chinook): 743 adults. Same week total in 2014 – 373 spring chinook.

Baker Lake Hatchery (Baker sockeye): no report. Same week total in 2014 – first report was June 17.

FLOW – Skagit River Marblemount Gauge

Recent: 4,200 c.f.s. 2,740 c.f.s under median daily flow (Saturday, June 6), slight drop, under daily power generation fluctuations.

Forecast: No prediction for this gauge but Skagit elsewhere is forecast to be steady with a slight raise coming Tuesday, June 9.

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