LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Rain helps hunters and anglers
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LAST WEEK DURING the opening quarter of the Port Townsend and Life Christian football game at Memorial Field on Saturday night, a young deer was hanging out on the sidelines, unfazed by the yelling fans or the teenage boys in helmets and shoulder pads.
Eventually, the deer slowly walked out on the field, and was soon shooed to the hill on the visitor’s side of the field.
Now, obviously, that deer is too young to be hunted (this year, at least), but I wonder if it is a symbol of how cocky the wildlife has gotten during the last few months when it’s been so dry that almost every move hunters made was heard by the would-be prey.
“Like one guy said, it was like walking on corn flakes,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.
But now that the rain has come, life won’t be so easy for the deer.
The general firearm season started last Saturday and continues until Wednesday, Oct. 31.
“There have been deer taken already,” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.
“The weather has been great for hunting. It has really quieted things down.”
Menkal said the opening day was rough because conditions were a little too rainy and windy.
But a couple of his customers got three-point and two-point bucks earlier this week east of Sequim.
Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and hunting expert, said the deer activity around Quilcene has increased since the rain started.
“I haven’t seen this many deer out in daylight since the drought started,” Norden said.
“Hunters should drop everything and get out to their favorite spot whenever the wind is calm in morning or evening, since wind makes the deer skittish.”
Duck season opens Saturday, and Norden said there are a lot of ducks around the bays on Hood Canal and Discovery Bay.
Salmon on the move
Fishing-wise, everything was set into motion by last week’s rain.
The saltwater scene didn’t actually change too much, because the salmon fishing started doing well off Port Angeles before the rain arrived.
But, as expected, the salmon are in a hurry to get to the rivers.
“Fish are moving on quickly,” Aunspach said.
“People are finding them in different places, mostly in shallower water, which means they are starting to stage for the rivers.”
Sekiu had a noble last stand.
Like the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, the salmon fishery remains open until Wednesday, Oct. 31, but Linda Dillard and Donalynn Olson of Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu both told me this week that things have started to wind down dramatically.
Part of the reason for Sekiu’s success was its salmon derby last weekend, but the catch numbers were strong for most of the week.
Saturday was especially good for the derby. There was a little bit of rain, but it didn’t affect the turnout or the fishing.
Windy conditions Sunday made fishing difficult.
Here are the derby winners.
■ First place: Paul Buol of Enumclaw, 22.3 pounds.
■ Second place: Steve Grace of Sekiu, 14.02 pounds.
■ Third place: Gary Whitish of Rainier, 10.69 pounds.
■ Fourth place: Colby Underwood of Clallam Bay, 9.96 pounds.
■ Fifth place: Eric Vigil of Spanaway, 7.5 pounds.
■ First place: Michelle Maple of Covington, 16.33 pounds.
■ Second place: Mark Larson, 13.61 pounds.
■ Third place: Wes Whitish of Shelton, 13.6 pounds.
■ Fourth place: Phil Bennett of Tahuya, 13.44 pounds.
■ Fifth place: Kevin Morgan of Bonney Lake, 13.35 pounds.
The winner of the $500 special draw was Dave Easton of Clallam Bay.
The West End rivers finally have enough water to be fishable and floatable again.
“It’s night and day,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.
“Fish had to lay on their sides to stay under water.”
Gooding reports decent numbers of king and silvers have been pulled from the Sol Duc and Bogachiel rivers.
Menkal said some big salmon have been taken from the Sol Duc and Quillayute, and adds that the Dungeness River, which opened earlier this week, is doing well.
“The fish are hanging out up high,” Menkal said.
I know we just barely received rain, but it’s already time to talk about snow.
As you’ve probably heard, Hurricane Ridge will only be open Friday through Saturday starting in late November.
That’s the bad news for ski bums.
The good news is that the ski season is right around the corner. Therefore, it’s time to get your gear in order.
The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, ski team and ski patrol have scheduled their yearly ski swap for Saturday, Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jefferson Elementary School in Port Angeles.
If you have used gear, equipment or clothing that you want to unload, you can drop it off at Jefferson Elementary between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. that morning.
It will then be priced, organized and, hopefully, sold that afternoon.
At the swap you can also sign up for ski school and buy a season pass.
Kitsap Sports will also be on hand with new gear.
Admission to the ski swap is $3. You can also purchase a family pass for $7.
For more information, email email@example.com.
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Have a photograph, a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique?
Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: October 18. 2012 5:42PM