February 1st winter blackmouth season begins in Marine Area 6. Area 10 closes at the end of the day, 1-19-19 after a short, super good three week season. Area 7 and 9 remain open but will likely close early because of catch rates and “encounters” with native, non-clipped Chinook. Fish checkers at the ramps routinely ask how many hours you fished and how many marked or sub-legal fish you released. These “encounters” count against us because the Washington Department of Fish & Game (WDFW) calculates approximately one dead fish for every seven encounters. They also project an encounters guideline and shut down the fishery when that number is reached.
When Area 6 opens February 1st fishing should be fairly decent as long as there’s bait in the area. Like most areas, finding the bait will be key to finding good numbers of blackmouth. Knowing where to look for schools of bait can drive anglers crazy because there’s many productive areas in this portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca as well as Discovery Bay
When choosing an area to fish drive slowly around the area looking for schools of bait. Also consider the phase of the tide and where bait might be schooled. Before dropping gear make sure there’s bait in the area. Find the bait and you will likely find blackmouth willing to bite your lures or bait.
In the coming days leading up to the Area 6 opener I will post 15 blackmouth fishing charts to cover most of the popular spots, so watch this site or better yet, subscribe to Salmon Chronicles.
John L. Beath, SquidLures.com