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ONE OF THE things I hear all the time from anglers is that living on the North Olympic Peninsula allows them to go fishing before punching the clock at work, or to take off a little early and head to the rivers or the saltwater and drop some bait.
Or they can just go fishing on a whim.
In his rivers salmon and steelhead class, Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim advises attendees to take their gear with them wherever they go.
That way, if they hear of a new hot spot and have a few hours of free time, they can get there before the word spreads.
Well, I still can’t claim to be much of a fisherman, but I did have one of those moments this week.
I was finishing up at the grocery store and ran into my friend Frank, who was picking up a bottle of orange juice and a box of maple doughnuts.
He told me he had just gotten off the water with his friend who had caught his limit of crab.
We had talked about going crabbing in the summer, but it never happened, so I reminded him that we needed to go sometime.
In true North Olympic Peninsula fashion, Frank said, “What are you doing in an hour?”
While his friend had caught his limit, Frank had only re-baited his traps on his earlier trip and still had his limit to catch.
After getting over the spontaneity of his suggestion, I agreed to meet him at the marina.
It was a blast.
I enjoyed being out on the water, which wasn’t a big surprise because even ferry rides excite me.
It was cool to look back and see what Port Angeles looks like from the harbor.
When we reached Frank’s traps, which were all in about 160-170 feet of water, it was my job to reach over the boat, grab the buoy and start pulling the rope up.
Frank’s boat has a mechanism that did most of the pulling for us.
But we did pull one of the traps up by hand, and Frank’s rope-pulling technique was superior to mine. So, he did most of the work.
The traps were mostly filled with female Dungeness crabs, and only males can be harvested, so we had to coax them out of the traps and toss them back into the water.
Even though those female crabs represented failure, it was a lot of fun throwing them back.
Maybe there is some sort of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” life lesson about carefully grabbing your failures and throwing them back to whence they came, but I think my enjoyment was similar to a little kid getting his kicks by lobbing rocks in a river.
We also baited one of Frank’s traps with slabs of salmon, including a huge salmon head, and quickly became popular with the seagulls when we threw the old bait into the water.
The four traps we checked did have three male Dungeness and one male red rock crab, so we didn’t go home empty-handed.
Frank showed me how to cook the crab and let me keep it.
I then brought it home to my wife, thereby fulfilling the inherent need a man has of (literally) bringing food home to his family.
And it was delicious. I ate so much that I could barely walk.
But, my wife didn’t like it.
Not my manly gesture — she appreciated that — but the crab.
I think the process of breaking the shell and digging out the crab meat was gross to her.
It was a little disappointing to me.
But sometimes you just have to throw the females back, you know? (Just kidding, of course. She is more than pretty, funny and smart enough to be an undisputed keeper.)
Anyway, I could only eat one crab by myself, so we shared some with our neighbors.
From what I hear, it was more than they could eat, too, so they shared with another neighbor.
So, basically, we fed the neighborhood.
More razor clam digs
The season’s first series of razor clam digs ends tonight, but the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has already announced a tentative schedule for digs through Dec. 31.
“This week’s dig, the first of the fall season, has been wet but productive,” coastal shellfish manager Dan Ayres said in a release.
“The number of clams is up at all beaches except Kalaloch this year, so we’re expecting a very good season.”
Oh yeah, Kalaloch Beach. As you’ll notice, the Peninsula’s nearest beach is not included in the scheduled digs.
Here are the proposed razor clam dig days, times, tides and beaches for the next month.
These dates are contingent upon routine marine toxin tests showing the clams are safe to eat.
■ Saturday, Oct. 27: 5:57 p.m., +0.2 feet — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
■ Sunday, Oct. 28: 6:36 p.m., -0.1 feet — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
■ Monday, Oct. 29: 7:12 p.m., -0.3 feet— Twin Harbors.
■ Tuesday, Oct. 30: 7:46 p.m., -0.4 feet— Twin Harbors.
■ Tuesday, Nov. 13: 5:54 p.m., -1.6 feet — Twin Harbors.
■ Wednesday, Nov. 14: 6:41 p.m., -1.9 feet — Twin Harbors.
■ Thursday, Nov. 15: 7:29 p.m., -1.9 feet — Long Beach, Twin Harbors.
■ Friday, Nov. 16: 8:18 p.m., -1.6 feet — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
■ Saturday, Nov. 17: 9:09 p.m., -1.1 feet — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.
You can see the rest of the dates here: http://tinyurl.com/clamdigs.
Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.