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Fish, Fur, Fowl: Lowland lakes open
There has been quite a lot of fishing action the few last days. Saturday was the lowland lakes general opener and the state estimates over 300,000 anglers were trying their luck.
If you left early enough you could have had your limit and been back in time for the Holland Happening parade, it was that easy.
I spent the morning talking to a few anglers to find out how it was going.
Erie and Heart lakes were packed as expected. Both lakes are considered among the best to fish on opening day.
Most of all the fish I saw were in the 8- to 10-inch range with a few pushing 14 inches. These fish were probably holdover trout from last year.
If you get a chance, head out to Campbell Lake. It just received a stocking of the larger triploids and they have no pressure on them right now.
Dough baits were the most popular bait, but some anglers used salmon eggs and even worms. Trolling small spoons or spinners was more popular at the bigger Erie than at Heart just because of the sheer number of boats on the water.
Tuesday the ling cod season opened and if you happened to either drive over or under the Deception Pass Bridge around 10 a.m., you could not miss all the boats down there. It looked like Heart Lake on opening day and as a matter of fact, you would have seen me there as well.
Deception has always been my favorite opener spot. It all comes from my younger days fishing it in a 12-foot Gamefisher, something I would not do today, though.
From now until the season closes on June 15, lings is what I will be fishing for. By far my favorite fish, lings can be found near most rocky structures.
The San Juan Islands have numerous areas to try out and what I look for is an area where the water is somewhere between 50 and 200 feet deep with some good rocky structure. I like jigging for them but have been known to use herring, squid or some other bait.
I like the new larger wiggle tail plastics available at most tackle shops, but have used twin-tail scampi jigs for years with good success either the white or black ones. I know there are so many colors available, but these two have been my go to colors.
No matter what you choose, I tell everyone the first thing you have to do after you hook up is to get some line onto the reel. These fish love to grab your rig and dart back into the rocks. This can prove to be very aggravating if you lose several fish before you know exactly what is going on. Once you get them up be sure to net them quickly. Some of the larger ones will just be dead weight until the net comes out and then it is back to the bottom.
Halibut season is still open and in some areas you can target both at the same time. I recently took the wife out trying to get her a halibut at Hein Bank. She hooked into what I am positive was a nice halibut that snapped her 40-pound leader like it was nothing.
Maybe by the time this is printed I will have succeeded at getting her a nice slab or even a ling.