Here is Floor’s Tackle Box:
How can it be December all ready?
Well, it’s here and time for Christmas shopping, winter blackmouth fishing and the last month of winter crabbing (excluding the Seattle area).
If you pay attention to the winter blackmouth season, the kickoff began a month ago in most of marine waters to the west, south and east of Whidby Island. Ka-boom! It has been awesome as a lot of blackmouth anglers I’ve talked with have experienced some of the best hatchery produced chinook salmon fishing last month in memory. Most of the action has been on the west side of Possession Bar (Tin Shed) all the way north to Mid-Channel Bank at Port Townsend. Lights out fishing.
This is an important signal as it suggests that here we go again with another stellar survival year for Puget Sound chinook salmon that will likely carry us into our summer king season next year. Mercy! Somebody help me.
Now, chapter two begins with the opening of the long winter chinook season (fin clipped blackmouth only), in the San Juan Islands on December 1st (through April 30th). Some readers might be saying, “There he goes again, pounding the pulpit about winter salmon fishing in the San Juan Islands. He must be selling real estate up there too!” Not a bad idea.
Yep, I do practice what I preach, as my head is full of incredible winter fishing trips to the Islands for the last 30 years. And, for the most part, the quality of the fishing and catching is wonderful, topped with dropping one of these incredible fish on my Webber barbeque. A life jacket is required during the consumption part as I guarantee these fish will tip you over!
During this first week of December, if you live in the Islands, you’ll notice a lot of fishing boats running around, looking for hatchery produced blackmouth. Some of these anglers are simply fishing during this time frame, enjoying the opener and trying to put a few fish in the cooler. Others are scouting, trying to locate the baitfish and blackmouth in preparation for Kevin Kline’s big Resurrection Salmon Derby, December 6-8 in Friday Harbor. Winning the tournament with the biggest blackmouth will put $10,000 in your pocket and cover your Christmas shopping visit to the local jewelry store. Nice! Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
I’ve been giving some thought about a perfect Christmas gift for the salmon angler or anglers in your house. I have three suggestions and they are as follows.
My first recommendation is a guided San Juan Islands blackmouth fishing trip with Derek Floyd who has catapulted to celebrity status as the new big gun in the San Juan Islands during the wintertime blackmouth season. I have written, in this space, about my impressions fishing with Derek last year, and, continue to be in awe with his record breaking production in winning the Roche Harbor Salmon Classic in 2011. He not only caught the biggest chinook salmon in the history of the tournament, but he also claimed total boat weight of blackmouth winning somewhere around $20 grand. It was a monster performance by a very classy man.
Most anglers, when looking for a fishing guide to help teach them the in’s and out’s of a given area are looking for performance and skill from their guide. Check the box “yes” for Derek Floyd. However, it has been my experience that guides can “chew you out” for simply touching the deck with the rod but, or be unapproachable early in the morning. Not much fun to shell out significant dough and end up fishing with a jerk. Check the box “yes” again as you’ll experience fishing with a true gentleman, in Derek Floyd. You can talk with Derek Floyd to consider a Christmas present fishing trip with him by calling 425-239-5740, or visiting the Anglers Choice Fishing website.
Every now and then, I come across a fishing reel and rod that I REALLY like. Let’s start with the reel, as my second suggestion for a Christmas gift. I’ve been fishing with the Okuma IS400 level wind reel for the last nine months. I love it. Smooth as butter with a star drag system to match. It weighs 12 ounces and change and holds 180 yards of 20 pound test line. The retrieve is relatively fast as the gear ration is 5.1:1, and it runs off of a 4 ball bearing system, contributing to the smooth retrieve. Trust me, it’s an awesome reel. Most fishing tackle stores should carry this reel and I know Outdoor Emporium in Seattle has them on sale for $189. It’s worth every penny.
Finally, Fenwick has come out with a new all-purpose salmon fishing rod that for this angler, is close to the perfect stick. At last count, I’ve got somewhere around 40 salmon fishing rods. Hey, you can never have too many fishing rods as you never know when you’re gonna get a bite! This new Fenwick is the cat’s meow and, at a very reasonable price at around $100. It’s part of the HMX Series, and the model number is C902MH-F, 9 foot, rated at 15-30 pound line class. Plenty of power in the shaft with forgiveness in the tip. And, it’s lightweight, easy to hold all day for any kind of salmon fishing. It was just introduced into the fishing rod market about a month ago. One more time…..trust me.
Now, here’s a Christmas present for you. The Fish and Wildlife Commission met three weeks ago in Olympia to take testimony on consideration to modifying the current shrimp fishing allocation plan between Puget Sound commercial shrimpers and the sport fishery. Currently, there are 16 commercial shrimp fishers who taking 50% of the non-Indian allocation share, compared to an estimated 25,000 sport shrimpers. That’s about as fair as Seahawk running back star Marshawn Lynch playing against the Montesano High School football team.
While the Commission heard arguments from the sport and commercial industry representatives for change or status quo, the vote to consider a change will be made at their mid-December meeting. I predict you will like the outcome that will particularly benefit sport shrimping seasons from Everett north through the San Juan Islands. Merry Christmas and see you on the water!
(Tony Floor is the Director of Fishing Affairs for the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) and a former 30-year veteran of state Fish and Wildlife. NMTA advocates for and promotes recreational boating and fishing in the region.)
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(Photo by Mark Yuasa. Pictured is Tony Floor and Clyde McBrayer both of Olympia with a nice chinook salmon caught at Buoy-10 near the Columbia River mouth in late August.)