Here it goes, a summary for our first two no halibut trips of the year. The first one for the 5/11/2018 opener and the next, actually a weekend for the 5/25 and 5/27/2018 halibut opener. Historically I do pretty well on halibut but apparently my butt mojo hasn’t read the R-cyclopedia of fishing.
The first trip was with Tony. With a planned 3:30 am launch out of Keystone to fish Dallas Bank we ended up holding our launch until about 5:00 to better assess the sea conditions. In spite of the conditions we decided to launch the boat. The run from Keystone west was pretty grueling so we ended up stopping short of Dallas and fished the flats just west of Point Wilson. We set up and drifted various drifts from 60’ to about 150’. We were running spreader bars with 12-24 ounces of lead and back trolling as required to keep contact with the bottom. Although our primary gear and bait was a large white squid with a purple label herring pinned on a couple 8/0 barbless hooks we did mix it up a bit and also ran large white curly tail grubs. Even though we had a couple grab and goes we didn’t hang a fish. As forecasted the wind laid down by early afternoon.
With the improving conditions we continued on to Dallas Bank and finished the day working our spreader bar rigs in 100-150’ of water. Although the weather had improved, the fishing remained slow. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and the run from Dallas Bank back to Keystone was uneventful. After a fun day on the water and good company we were back on the trailer fishless by 6:30.
The next opener was scheduled to be 5/25 and 5/27 and we had a plan… Karen and I decided to combine a little camping, exploring and halibut fishing and setup a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. Our plan was to camp, fish halibut Friday and Sunday and lings on Saturday. Then fill in the down time with a little local exploration. That was the plan anyway…
3:00 Friday morning rolls around and before I slither out of my sleeping bag I check the NOAH forecast for the eastern straights. As luck may have it; gale warnings were posted for the morning with a possible downgrade to small craft in the late afternoon. It was back to sleep and on to plan B.
Plan B turned out to be a blast. Both Karen and I had been to the Olympic Game Farm as children but never as adults so it was off to the farm we went. Our drive through the game farm was an absolute blast and both of us can’t wait to do it again. On arrival we bought a couple loaves of their whole wheat bread to feed the animals and headed off on our adventure. I could write a whole book about our few hours with our furry friends but this is a fishing report…
Saturday the gale warnings continued so we spent more time exploring in anticipation of a favorable Sunday forecast. Sunday morning rolls around and the forecast was for no wind. We were up at 3:00 and in the water by 3:30. My plan was to work various depths in front of Norse Creek just east of Port Angeles. As we rounded Dungeness spit in the dark it became apparent that the marine forecast timing was a bit off and the wind on the eastern straight had not laid down just yet. To get out of the wind we set up just inside the Dungeness Spit and got to fishing.
This trip I had planned to anchor and drop my DIY chum tube off a downrigger, then run our spreader bar rigs. All gear down, right off the bat we have a fish on the meter. I switch the view to down scan and a fish is moving in and out of the FF feed. As I am watching the show one of the rods goes off. I set the hook, wake Karen up and hand her the rod. After a brief fight we release a smaller halibut thinking this is going to be a good day. A good day it was, but not all is defined by the number of halibut slobbering up the deck. The wind eventually died down and we were able to work some of the places on my original plan. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any halibut but we did have a few solid bites and lost another fish. Our highlight was during one of our bites. I thought the fish was hooked solid so I hit the DR up button to bring the chum tube up. The bite was short-lived but as the chum tube came up it was trailing bits of chum and a massive halibut was lazily munching on bits and pieces of free floating chum as the tube came up. By that time that time the wind was picking up so we moved back inside Dungeness Spit to finish the day.
As with the 5/11 opener we drifted various depths from 60’ to about 150’ or anchored in the same depth range. We were running spreader bars with 12-24 ounces of lead, as required to keep contact with the bottom. Although our primary gear and bait was a large white squid with a purple label herring pinned on a couple 8/0 barbless hooks. We did mix it up a bit and also fished large white curly tail grubs on 16-ounce jig heads. I feel that we were doing all the right stuff, I just didn’t find the fish. In talking with the gang back at the campground it turns out that the rigs that trailered out to Neah Bay clobbered the butts. Hmmm, where was my crystal ball?
Fish or no fish our little adventure was a blast. All things boating went well, we made a few new friends and our explorations are now good memories. Hopefully we will get another crack at the 2018 halibut fishery before it quotas out.