According to Rich Childers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2011 appears to be a record year for the amount of crabs harvested by recreational crabbers in Puget Sound. An estimated 2.1 million pounds of crabs were taken in the summer season from July 1 to Labor Day, with additional harvest coming during the fall and winter.
Lots of people enjoyed a high rate of catch this year, Childers said. “We are seeing an abundance of crab, phenomenally high in some of the Puget Sound marine areas,” he said. “We’re seeing the same thing with shrimp. Something in the environment is favoring the survival of Dungeness crabs from larvae to adult.”
Crab season will close in all areas on Dec. 31, and anyone with a winter catch record card must report their catch by Feb. 1 — even if no crab were caught.
At the Big Bend on Hood Canal near Shelton, snaggle-nosed chum salmon take over the fishing spotlight about this time each year. Between the Coho and winter steelhead runs, I can report the Chum have arrived right on time.
State Fish and Wildlife Department checked at the Hoodsport Hatchery on Hood Canal one day last week and counted 23 beach fishermen with 76 chums. That’s hard-to-beat salmon fishing, particularly considering you don’t need a boat. These fish are in good shape and plentiful but they won’t stay that way very long.
The tribal beach fishery started on the Olympic Peninsula Nov. 14, according to a state spokesman at the hatchery, running Monday, Wednesday and Friday at least through the end of the month. Sport fishing is concentrated along the hatchery stream channel, using steelhead-type gear, and since it’s necessary to keep firm control of hooked fish, thicker line is better than light. Fly fishermen score as well, working surrounding water.
This area of Hood Canal also has a handicapped fishing platform for wheelchair-bound anglers, best at high tide. Call the hatchery’s recorded fishing line for current conditions, at 360-877-5222.