FIN, FUR & FEATHERS: Hunters, get those harvest reports in

To start there is some very important news for those of you planning on hunting big game or turkeys this year.

In years past the state required you to mail in the harvest card from your special tags whether you were successful or not. Last year we went to a computerized system for licensing so a database was kept on what tags, stamps, etc you were buying. Last year hunters could either call or document their success (or lack of) via the Internet. The other thing the computer system did is make it easier for the state to know if you did turn in a harvest report.

So far, only about 75-percent of hunters have filled out their harvest reports by the Jan. 31 deadline. If you are one of these you have nothing to worry about, but if you are a procrastinator, you may be in for a surprise when you go to purchase your 2002 tags. If you did not read the small print in last year’s regs, you probably missed the part where it mentioned that if you failed to report your harvest, you would be ineligible to buy tags the next year.

As is stands, about 25-percent of you will not be allowed to buy your tags for the upcoming seasons this fall. If you have not done so, then by all means log onto the web page and get this done. Special permits are usually due in the summer, and it would be a shame to find out too late you cannot apply. In addition, the information you provide give biologists important information to make sound biological decisions on seasons and bag limits. If we do not give the state vital data our hunting season may be determined by public opinion, not sound evidence.

Fishermen’s Blues

So has there been enough rain for you? I mentioned last week how our warmer weather would be a boon to fly anglers after trout, only problem you needed calm, warm weather for best success.

If you have had trouble getting out there during the few breaks we have had, there is another technique that can help you land a lunker brown out of places like Pass Lake. Not many people equate trolling with fly-fishing and in the case of Pass; it will be more like rowing.

When there is a slight chop on the water or raindrops are not allowing you to get a proper presentation on dry flies, try switching to a sinking fly. If you have a small boat, canoe or even float tube, then you’re in business.

After you have the sinking fly on the amount line to let out will depend on water clarity, weather, and crowd. On clear, calm days you will need more line out than on turbid days. Remember you are imitating a bug suspending on the underwater currents, not speed trolling for yellowfins. Adjust your speed to get the fly below the surface disturbances, but still allow for the fish to locate and strike the lure.

The water temps have been rising and many of the warmwater fish should be starting their annual feeding binge after the long winter days. Smallmouth action should really start to pick up on Lake Whatcom. Try tube jigs or small crankbaits in a crawfish pattern.

If you want to tie into a lunker largemouth, Campbell would be a good choice for the angler who does not want to travel too far. If a little drive is not problem for you then take a look at Lake Sammamish. This impoundment is most often thought of as a recreational lake for the well to do in King County, but before the summer crowds invade this lake, it is a well-known smallmouth fishery. In addition there are some monster bucketmouths that live here. Jigs tossed in the warmer shallow waters at the north end of the lake is the most popular method, but search out other shallow areas that are benefiting form the longer, warmer days.

While you are down in this area, you may also want to try some early fishing in Lake Washington. This lake is well known for its early in the year cutthroat action. Cutts are the opposite of the bass. They prefer the cooler waters, so as temps rise go deeper for these fish. Start in about 30 feet and adjust accordingly. Trolling a needlefish is the preferred method here.

So far no trout have been planted in local waters, but they should be starting soon. I know that renowned guide Brian “Raging” Rivers is looking forward to hitting area lakes, so I’ll get you that info ASAP. Don’t forget your 2001 license expires on the 31st, and your 2002 does not take affect until April 1.

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