LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Spawning isn’t easy

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

I WENT AND checked out the leaping coho at the Sol Duc Salmon Cascades in Olympic National Park earlier this week.

Supposedly, seeing the fish jumping while they made their way up stream to do some spawning is “hit and miss,” but they were flying out of the water the entire time I was there.

Maybe I was lucky.

Or maybe the coho knew I was an outdoors columnist and wanted their 15 minutes of fame.

The summer-run coho are fighting strong currents in their swim upstream to find a cozy spot in which to spawn.

It’s fascinating to watch.

And a little bit frustrating, because the fish had such a tough time jumping both high and far enough to make it up the different layers of boulders by the viewing platform.

The coho would bolt out of the whitewater and usually their leap falls short and usually you can see them bouncing and twisting back to where their jump began.

The two times I saw one of them pull off the initial, and most difficult jump, they were unable to make it up another layer and went twisting and twirling back to where they started, forced to start all over again.

Man, the things a fish will do for some spawning.

We’ve all been there, though, right?

I’m certain most of us have attempted to impress the opposite sex, only to be rejected and then tumble back to earth.

Anyway, it’s a tough world out there.

To get to the Salmon Cascades, travel south on U.S. Highway 101 to Milepost 219 into Olympic National Park on Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.

About six miles down the road is a well-marked parking area for the view area.

Watch out when you’re driving through the road construction by Lake Crescent. I ran over something there that gave me a flat tire.

Rivers swollen

Now there’s too much rain.

After spending weeks constantly checking weather forecasts hoping to see rain predictions, the North Olympic Peninsula has received so much rain that the West End rivers are now too full for good fishing.

“It’s either feast or famine, isn’t it?” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

So now, once again, anglers are left waiting.

“The rivers are at a standstill until the rain calms down,” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

“We need it to cool down and stop raining — or just stop raining.”

Menkal does have some good news about the Dungeness River.

Not only has there been an increase in coho caught, particularly on the upper portion of the river, but a few steelhead have already been harvested.

The steelies typically don’t come around until closer to Thanksgiving.

Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said the results of Whidbey Island beach-casters could mean the West End rivers will also see some steelhead.

“Another good sign for anglers is that the beach-casters are already getting fair numbers of bright steelhead,” Norden said.

“It is awfully early for winter-run [steelhead], so I think they may be summer-runs that are very late due to ocean conditions.

“This is a sign that the Quillayute system, mainly the Sol Duc, will have an interesting mix of fish in the next few days when it drops back into shape from the high water.”

Saltwater slowdown

The saltwater salmon fishery is taking November off before opening up on Dec. 1 for blackmouth.

It’s just as well, too, because the coho had come and gone.

“It really died down,” Menkal said.

But Marine Areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 12 (Hood Canal) remain open to salmon.

In fact, the chinook fishery has reopened in Area 9 until Dec. 1.

Salmon success

Brenda Chisholm of Port Townsend had a good October.

A few weeks ago, she went fishing with Jim Weiner and Emily Carlyle at Lagoon Point by Whidbey Island and all three of them caught nice-sized silvers.

But it gets even better. Two weekends ago, she reeled in a 25-pound king on the Bogachiel River.

“It was fun to catch with the river moving so fast,” Chisholm told me in an email.

Ski swap next week

The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club, ski team and ski patrol will hold their yearly ski swap next 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. Family passes cost $7.

For more information, email skifox@wavecable.com.

Winterfest

Winterfest 2012 will take place the Saturday after the ski swap, Nov. 17, at the Vern Burton Community Gym in Port Angeles.

The event includes a rib dinner by chef Steve McNab, an oyster bar, and a no-host beer and wine bar.

There will also be live music by Bill and Rudy, live and silent auctions and the top films from the Videolympics will be shown.

Doors open at 5 p.m., the festivities start at 6 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased for $45 at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More in Sequim, and Swain’s General Store, Brown’s Outdoor, and Necessities and Temptations in Port Angeles.

Tickets at the door are $50.

A community table costs $320.

For more information, visit www.hurricaneridge.com.

Anglers meeting

The East Jefferson Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers will hold its next meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina in Port Townsend.

The guest speaker will be Tom Ohaus of Anglers Unlimited, who will give a presentation on his fishing guide operation in Sitka, Alaska

There will also be technique tips on mooching for salmon on mid-channel bank.

Refreshments will be served and the public is invited.

River fishing class

Part two of Menkal’s two-part rivers salmon and steelhead class will be held Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More at 542 W. Washington St. in Sequim.

Bring a pen or pencil, a notebook and a chair.

For more information, contact Menkal at 360-683-1950.

Send photos, stories

Have a photograph, a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique?

Send it to sports@peninsuladailynews.com or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 01. 2012 4:37PM
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