Olympic Penisula: Wet weather in late February could mean better fishing in March for both wild and hatchery steelhead, while anglers continue to fish for blackmouth salmon in coastal waters.
Three days of razor clam digs in early March have been approved on coastal beaches by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). A second dig is tentatively scheduled for later in March.
The early season digs this month are scheduled the evenings of March 1 to 3. No digging is allowed before noon. The schedule, along with low tides and beaches:
March 1, Saturday, 6:32 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks, Copalis
March 2, Sunday, 7:13 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 3, Monday, 7:53 p.m.; +0.3 feet; Twin Harbors
WDFW tentatively has planned late season digs in the evenings, March 26 to 29 and switching to morning tides March 30 and 31.These digs will be approved if marine toxin tests performed later this month show the clams are safe to eat. The proposed schedule includes:
March 26, Wednesday, 3:52 p.m.; 0.3 feet; Twin Harbors
March 27, Thursday, 4:48 p.m.; 0.1 feet; Twin Harbors
March 28, Friday, 5:38 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 29, Saturday, 6:23 p.m.; 0.0 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
Seasonal switch to morning tides
March 30, Sunday, 6:53 a.m.; -0.1 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks
March 31, Monday, 7:39 a.m.; -0.5 feet; Twin Harbors
Ocean Shores will host its annual razor clam festival March 21 to 23
If youd rather dig for clams along the Hood Canal, head to Dosewallips State Park, where digging for Manilla clams, butter clams and other intertidal clams will get started early this season, opening March 1.
Lingcod fishing begins March 15 in marine areas 1-3, south of Cape Alava. The minimum size for lingcod in these areas is 22 inches, with a daily limit of two fish per angler.
Wild steelhead fishing on the northern peninsula has been slow so far, but there have been good pockets of water for fishing, said Mike Gross, north coast district fish biologist for WDFW.
"The lack of rain and low flow conditions that delayed the fall coho and hatchery steelhead returns are switching to a more normal state, Gross said. Wild steelhead will continue to push upstream. Gross advised anglers to keep an eye on river conditions.
Anglers can retain one wild steelhead per license year from one of the following rivers: the Quillayute, Dickey, Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Hoh, Clearwater, or Quinault rivers. Those eight rivers are the only waters in Washington where wild steelhead may be retained.
For hatchery steelhead, anglers should try fishing rivers in the Chehalis River Basin, said Mike Scharpf, another WDFW fish biologist. The Satsop, Skookumchuck and Wynoochee rivers offer the best opportunities for hatchery steelhead in March, and we anticipate fishing will improve with the recent rainfall, Scharpf said.
Meanwhile, several areas of Puget Sound are open to fishing for resident chinook. Anglers fishing in the eastern straight (Marine Area 6), near Tacoma and Vashon Island (Marine Area 11) or along the Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) can keep two hatchery salmon each day but must release wild chinook.
There is a one-salmon daily limit near Sekiu (Marine Area 5) and in the South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13). Area six has been really good for salmon fishing so far, said Ryan Lothrop, Puget Sound recreation salmon fisheries manager. The Sekiu area, which opened mid-February, also has been a hotspot for blackmouth in previous years, he said.
Before heading out, anglers can check creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound. Recreational fishery samplers with WDFW collect the information each week at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound.
Looking ahead, planning for Washingtons summer salmon fishing season is in full swing. Several public meetings have been scheduled throughout March as fishery managers continue to develop the 2014 salmon seasons, which will be finalized in mid-April.