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Peninsula Daily News
THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA Salmon Derby has come and gone and the hatchery steelhead have made their river run.
Well, obviously, you can go after native steelhead on the Hoh or Sol Duc rivers.
Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said both rivers are giving anglers some nice photo opportunities.
“There’s some big ones in both rivers,” Menkal said, adding that there have been many reports of 20-plus pounders.
Of course, anglers can only harvest one wild steelhead per year, so when you catch these big fish, you have to quickly snap a photograph and then put the fish back in the river.
Later, you can post the photo on Facebook and sit back and watch the number of likes pile up.
The Calawah and Bogachiel rivers are still being terrorized by those terrible seals, so don’t bother wasting your time at those rivers.
There is also another option for anglers: Lake Leland, where there are many anglers fishing from the bank and a few others in boats.
“Lake Leland is the busiest I have ever seen this time of year,” Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said.
“Most of the fish are holdovers from last spring’s plants, but because this lake is so food-rich, these fish are all fat and usually 13-15 inches.
“I haven’t heard of any of the really big ones [being caught] lately — three pounds and up — but they are there.
“Most of the fish are caught on bait fished deep. I recommend a sliding bobber stopped at about 15 feet.”
Norden said the fishing has been somewhat slow, but patient anglers are finding success.
Menkal reports a number of trout are being caught at Leland, but also reminds that there are six species of fish to catch in the lake.
Another salmon derby is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3: The 31st annual Murray Salmon Derby, aka the Geoduck Derby, aka the Drunken Pig Derby (as Norden said certain locals call it) based out of Brinnon.
This derby is historically significant because it is the only remaining derby in Western Washington that is suitable for small boats such as canoes, kayaks and row boats.
“At one time there were dozens of these derbies out of every boathouse, including the old boathouse on Ediz Hook, [which is] now gone,” Norden said.
“But today all the derbies are what you could call downrigger, big-water derbies.”
Bigger boats are also welcome in this derby.
This derby should be a little bit more accommodating this year.
“Pleasant Harbor Marina is opening a bunch of guest moorage slips for fishermen that weekend,” Norden said.
“This is great news since one of the reasons this derby has stayed small is that there has never been more than a couple moorage spots available, except at the tiny state park in Pleasant Harbor.”
The entry fee is $15.
Tickets and information are available at the Geoduck Restaurant at 307103 U.S. Highway 101 (360-796-4430) and the Brinnon General Store at 306413 U.S. Highway 101 (360-796-4400).
Washington law requires all first-time hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972, to successfully complete a hunter education class in order to purchase a hunting license.
Randy Mesenbrink, a volunteer instructor certified by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will be teaching this course next month at the West End Sportsmen’s Club located in Forks on Sportmens Club Road.
Participants will receive instruction on firearms safety, wildlife conservation and sportsmanship.
The dates for the classes are Monday, March 4; Wednesday, March 6; Monday, March 11; and Wednesday, March 13.
Classes last from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The final test will be Saturday, March 16, at 9 a.m.
Students must attend all classes to be eligible for the hunter education student certificate.
These courses are open to everyone, but most who complete the course are at least 10 years old.
A parent or guardian is required to attend the first night of class with their student, and are encouraged to attend all classes.
Students younger than 10 years old must be accompanied to all classes by a parent or guardian.
To participate, you must pre-register online at http://tinyurl.com/HuntClass.
For more information, call Mesenbrink at 360-374-5718.
Rivers fishing class
Menkal is teaching his two-part rivers salmon and steelhead fishing class on Tuesday, Feb. 26, and Tuesday, March 5.
Both sessions start at 6 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m.
Cost for the class is $25. Bring a notepad, pen or pencil and a chair.
Class attendance is limited to 12 participants.
To reserve a spot or for more information, phone Menkal at 360-683-1950.
The classes are held at Brian’s Sporting Goods and More at 542 West Washington St. in Sequim.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.