When it comes to beautiful weather months, November in the Pacific Northwest will never win. Rain, baby, lots of it, and only three groups love it: skiers, ducks, and salmon.
As I wallow through weather like this, I tend to use the time to plan for the months ahead, especially when I start thinking about winter blackmouth fishing. Winter blackmouth could give a rip about rain, wind, and maybe even the dreaded “s” word. And when I think deeper about fishing in the snow, especially during my foolish and younger years, yes, those blackmouths will eat the prop off your boat when it snows.
Winter blackmouth fishing is very limited in inland marine waters during November. However, if you’re considering putting a worm in the water, Areas 8-1 and 8-2 (Deception Pass to the south tip of Whidbey Island), which both open November 1, are popular places to be. Area 9 (Point Wilson, Port Townsend south to Apple Cove Point), and Area 10 (Apple Cove Point south to the northern tip of Vashon Island) are the bread and butter of most Puget Sound salmon fishing, which also opens November 1.
As you may recall, a year ago these areas were infested with sub-legal size Chinook salmon (less than 22 inches) which led to sport-fishing restrictions in these two areas. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists who govern this fishery hope that last year was an anomaly. They will be monitoring the Area 9 and 10 sport fisheries closely this month.
Let’s talk crabs. As the summer Dungeness crab sport-fishing season came to a close after Labor Day weekend, shellfish biologists who manage this important fishery completed their analysis of catches throughout Puget Sound during September. The agency announced crab sport fishing openings affecting most of Puget Sound in mid-October. To understand these openings for the winter season, check out the WDFW website. The news is good unless your crab fishing occurs in lower Puget Sound and lower Hood Canal. You’ll find more crab in Walla Walla than in these two areas. I personally enjoy crabbing in Walla Walla, which is the hub of Washington wineries. You don’t need bait, a crab pot, buoy, or line. Tell me, what’s wrong with Dungeness crab and grape juice?
Areas from Sekiu through Port Angeles, including Discovery Bay, the San Juans, and waters east of Whidbey Island and south to the Narrows Bridge, look awesome for crabbing through December 31. A quarter-million of us fish for Dungeness crab throughout the year, and the winter crab fishery is often overlooked. The crab are typically hard-shelled, indicating that they are full of rich crab meat.
As mentioned earlier, I do a lot of my fishing planning for 2017 in November. From Sitka in May, to the west side of Vancouver Island in July, and south to Tillamook in late September, I am dialed in for next year. Throw in king salmon trips to Neah Bay in July, followed by the mouth of the Columbia River in August, Sekiu for blackmouth in April, shrimping in the San Juans in May and June, and, baby, I am booked and color me GONE. I love this game! See you on the water!