February 2016
Some people believe my motor is always running. “Hey Tony! You left your motor running!” Yeah, and what’s your point? Isn’t everybody’s motor running?

When I consider the allegation, I confess, it’s probably true. Growing up as a kid, I had to be on the go, constantly thinking about getting my worm in the water to catch and often whack some kind of a fish. As a very young boy, sneaking into a private boathouse or two along the south shore of Hood Canal, baiting my hook with a piece of mussel off the dock, I stared down into the green clear water of Hood Canal and watched Shiner perch, Blue-striped perch or bigger Pile perch circle my bait until one of them grabbed it and the herk and jerk program was on! My lightweight 5-foot trout rod was loaded to the max as every perch felt like a 30-pounder. I became infected with this thing called fishing.

Today, over a half century later, I remain one sick puppy, as thoughts of my annual fishing strategy plan plays through my mind, like a favorite musical album as I cork screw into the floor. Got a visual? Sorry, it’s simply the life of a fish-a-holic.

If you believe I fish 365 days a year, you’re on the wrong frequency. I do, however, fish as much as I can, weather permitting. And, if I’m not fishing, I’m often thinking about it.

My point is that I tend to run hot. And when it comes to fishing, I am constantly working my trap line, getting intel on my fav fishing and catching spots dependent on place and time of the year. Doesn’t everybody do that?

When I think about writing this column every month, if you’re a long time reader, I attempt to provide contemporary thinking about fishing options in the outdoor marine world, which brings me to February.

First and foremost, I consider February and March as prime time for winter blackmouth. From north Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, the San Juans and the Strait of Juan de Fuca including beautiful Freshwater Bay east to Partridge Bank, you’ll likely find blackmouth circling on schools of baitfish. Love it when that happens.

As a student of all these areas, especially for one-day Kamikaze fishing trips, it is my late winter heartbeat that feeds the thumpty-thump of my motor.

One of the regions falling under excellent blackmouth fishing category in February and March is Sekiu. I recall my introduction with February blackmouth fishing back in 1977 when I was invited to migrate to Sekiu for my western Strait of Juan de Fuca baptism. Quickly converted, when I see February on my calendar over the last 38 years, the rpm’s on my motor increase by a few thousand.

Sekiu, located on the northwest region of the Olympic Peninsula is about four hours from my Olympia doorstep. That is a little too far for a one-day strike. Sekiu is more realistically identified as a destination fishery. Therefore, a three or four-day trip to the gateway of the Strait can be a blackmouth Nirvana. It seems I can hear the sounds of traffic rushing north and south on I-5 from Port Angeles, but I can’t duplicate that awful sound from Sekiu. It is more like Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence tune, on the big stage of the natural world at its best.

The Sekiu winter blackmouth fishery opens on Tuesday, February 16. Just a few days before the Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, this fishery is scheduled to run through April 30th. I like the tides on the last weekend of the month, February 27-28, featuring moderate ebb tides from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (pay attention to more important current changes as they tend to run a few hours later than the tide changes). If you can’t make the trip at the end of the month, the great tides for a repeat are on the weekend of March 12-13th and the 26-27th. Perfect ebb tides from daylight ‘til early afternoon.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) is open all winter (boat ramp but no moorage) as the result of an ownership change. To the west, Mason-Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) opens February 16, however, the docks are not scheduled to be available until May 1st. Boat fuel and the Olson’s ramp remain available. Therefore, launching and retrieving you boat each day is the program.

Fishing strategy for being successful at Sekiu is very elementary. Mooching, trolling bait, spoons or hoochies all work. I like to start my ebb tide troll around “The Caves” immediately west of Sekiu in 120-150 feet of water, looking for schools of baitfish. Once again, like a broken record, find the baitfish and you’ll find the Chinook.

Trolling to the west for a couple of miles, you’ll see a few houses along the beach as you approach the easterly point (Eagle Bay) of the Hoko River. Pick up your gear and repeat.

A second option is to run to the east of Clallam Bay to Slip Point and start your troll or drift at Mussolini Rock, immediately east of Slip Point. Working similar water depths, your troll will take you west as the bottom drops off at the red buoy just west of Slip Point. Pound the bottom 10 feet like a jack hammer. Find the bait and, again, you’ll find fish.

Sekiu is a special place to most Northwest salmon anglers. It is often a weather-beater during any kind of a southerly, located geographically on the west end of Clallam Bay, out of the wind. And, during the next two months there is nobody there! Most saltwater salmon and halibut anglers know all about the summer fishery, but very few know or exercise their schedules to winter fish this region. It’s a blast and I’m going! See you on the water!