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Originally published Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 5:27 PM

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Spot shrimp season, which starts Saturday, looks to be quite tasty

When the spot shrimp season opens in Puget Sound and Hood Canal this Saturday, anglers should find decent success. State Fish and Wildlife...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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When the spot shrimp season opens in Puget Sound and Hood Canal this Saturday, anglers should find decent success.

State Fish and Wildlife conducted test fishing earlier this month, and found heaps of the tasty prawn-sized spot shrimp at many sites.

"Overall the spot shrimp abundance was good, and we found above average or similar numbers to last year," said Mark O'Toole, a state Fish and Wildlife shellfish biologist.

"It was better than usual in the San Juan (Islands), Bainbridge Island area, Discovery Bay and Possession (Bar)," O'Toole said.

A test fishery by state Fish and Wildlife in Hood Canal April 3-6 showed a total of 81 pots fished caught 497.13 pounds (compared to 480.83 last year). They sampled 1,910 spot shrimp (1,486), and an overall catch per unit effort of 6.14 pounds (5.94).

The tribes fished a week ago in Area 8 (east side of Whidbey Island) with a spot shrimp quota of 19,000 pounds.

O'Toole says tribal fishermen caught their entire catch quota in a mere span of about six hours.

Other popular spot shrimp areas are Elliott Bay, Vashon Island/Des Moines, Everett/Mukilteo, Saratoga Passage, Iceberg Point off Lopez Island and the exposed eastern Straits like Salmon Bank.

One change this season is spot shrimping will not reopen on May 9 — traditionally it has occurred the following Wednesday — due to an extreme minus-2.6 low tide that occurs at 1:47 p.m.

"It made sense to shift the second day of fishing to Friday," O'Toole said. "We really don't want to leave anyone stuck at the ramp."

Areas like Hood Canal will be open Friday and Saturday on back to back weeks, which doesn't happen that often.

O'Toole says we could see higher fishing effort in Hood Canal, and it might not get an extra fifth day of fishing like in past year.

Here are the seasons:

Deception Pass, Hope Island, Skagit Bay, Port Gardner, Port Susan, northern Puget Sound, central Puget Sound and south central Puget Sound (Marine Catch Areas 8, 9, 10 and 11) are open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5 and May 11 only.

Hood Canal (12) is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 5, 11, 12 and 16.

Discovery Bay (6) is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5, 11, 12 and 16.

Neah Bay, Sekiu, Port Angeles and southern Puget Sound (4, 5, 6 and 13) are open daily beginning May 5 at 7 a.m. Spot shrimping closes once the catch quota is achieved or Sept. 15, whichever comes first. The exception is southern Puget Sound, which closes May 31.

San Juan Islands (7) is open May 5, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at 7 a.m. each day.

More dates could be made if enough remains in the catch quota for each area.

For details on shrimp regulations, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp/.

Final spring razor clam dig approved

The final spring razor clam dig is May 5-7 at Twin Harbors. Digging will be allowed until noon each day.

All other coastal beaches are now closed for the spring season. Fall seasons will be announced sometime in late September or early October.

Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish biologist said previous digs on April 21-23 produced excellent digging opportunities.

Low tides: May 5, minus-1.5 feet at 6:32 a.m.; May 6, -2.1 at 7:19 a.m.; and May 7, -2.3 at 8:07 a.m.

Pikeminnow reward program begins this week

It is time to start thinking about catching pesky juvenile salmon and steelhead eating northern pikeminnow, and earn some money while you do it in the Columbia River region.

The "Sport Reward Fishery Program" kicks off Tuesday through Sept. 30.

Each year northern pikeminnow eat millions of young salmon and steelhead.

The public is invited to attend an event hosted by State Fish and Wildlife, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the M. James Gleason boat ramp located on N.E. 43rd Ave. and Marine Drive. Take Exit 307 off I-5, head east on N.E. Marine Drive.

Expert pikeminnow anglers and biologists will offer advice, and get a close-up view of pikeminnows in an aquarium. There will also be workshops on how to reel them in, prizes and giveaways and the registration process.

In 2011, 155,312 fish (155 had tags) were caught by 3,313 anglers and earned $978,678 ($77,500 for tagged fish).

Anglers can earn $4 to $8 for northern pikeminnow nine inches and larger caught in the Lower Columbia and Snake rivers. The more fish an angler catches also increases what each fishes monetary value is worth. There are also specially tagged fish worth $500.

Fish turned in are used in liquid organic fertilizer for agriculture, and fish meal for poultry and dairy cattle feed.

Only fish caught from the Columbia mouth to Priest Rapids Dam, and from the Snake mouth to Hells Canyon Dam are eligible. Details: 800-858-9015 or www.pikeminnow.org.

Notes

• The Orvis store in Bellevue is taking reservations for it's Fly-fishing 101 classes held every Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. beginning May 5. Classes are free and all equipment is provided. Class sizes are limited to make your plans to attend now. Details: 425-452-9138.

• The free Pray for Sun with Alpine Hut and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance event is 7 p.m. May 2 at the Red Door, 3401 Evanston Ave. North in Seattle. Details: www.evergreenmtb.org.

• The Fly-Fishing Film Tour is 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 4 at Raw Space, 117 East 4th Ave. in Ellensburg. The event is hosted by the Trout Water Fly Shop in Ellensburg and Cle Elum. The film will include adventures from Montana, Idaho, Florida and the Gulf Coast, plus other fly-fishing hot beds like the Bahamas, Alaska, Belize, New Zealand and Canada. Cost is $15. Details: www.troutwaterfly.com.

• The Trout Unlimited Puyallup River Cleanup is 9 a.m. to noon May 12 at Johnny's Bar & Grill, 1100 North Meridian in Puyallup. Details: 253-891-8964.

• The "Shipwrecks of Washington's Coast" Exhibit runs through April 30 in the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park, 244 Robert Gray Drive in Ilwaco.

The exhibit features drawings of shipwrecks that lie between the Columbia River bar north to Cape Flattery off the coast. Cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children aged 7 to 17. Children under age 6 are free. Artist Richard Wells, illustrator for "A Guide to Shipwreck Sites Along the Washington Coast" will have his illustrations on display. For details, visit www.fortcanby.org/visit/lcic.html.

• The Washington State Fly Fishing Fair is May 4-5 at the Kittitas Valley Event Center in Ellensburg. Join more than 100 expert fly tiers demonstrating their favorite patterns, free seminars on skills and destinations, casting workshops lead by FFF Certified Casting Instructors, and vendor booth. Show hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The event is free for FFF members and $5 for nonmembers. There will be a banquet and auction 6 p.m. on Saturday. Preregistration is required. Details: www.washingtoncouncilfff.org.

• The state Department of Natural Resources has opened the Tiger Mountain State Forest mountain bike trails. The trails provide mountain biking opportunities for all skill levels. The trails are located at the Iverson Railroad Grade, Northwest Timber and Preston Railroad Grade trails. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/tigermtn.

• The Ski to Sea Race and Festival in the Bellingham area is May 26-27. This seven-leg relay race covers 90 miles with 500 teams participating in seven sports. The race starts with cross-country skiing and downhill skiing/snowboarding on Mount Baker, transitions to running and road biking down the mountain, canoeing (two-man) along the Nooksack River, mountain biking from Ferndale to Bellingham's waterfront and ends with kayaking in Bellingham Bay. Details: www.skitosea.com.

• The clam and oyster season at Fort Flagler State Park, including a section of the spit west of the park boundary on Rat Island in Jefferson County, will be May 15 to Sept. 30. Surveys indicate the clam population has increased to allow extra harvest time.

• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.

• Mount St. Helens climbing permits are on sale for $22. Permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet. Details: 360-891-5007 or www.mshinstitute.org.

• Issaquah Alps Trails Club has weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.

• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and conditions. Details: www.wta.org.

• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.

• The Western Bass Club meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at Kennydale Hall in Renton. Details: www.westernbassclub.comor www.nickbarrfishing.com.

• The new nonprofit Cascade Musky Association is looking for members. Cost is $25, or $35 for a couple/family membership. Details: www.cascademuskyassociation.com or www.wafish.com.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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