LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: More anglers chasing steelhead, but success rate about the same

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

IT APPEARS MORE anglers are fishing for hatchery steelhead on the West End rivers, but it’s tough to say whether or not they are having more success.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife fish checkers interviewed 191 anglers who fished the Bogachiel River over the weekend. They caught 50 hatchery steelhead and released two.

That is an average of a little more than one fish for every four anglers.

On the Lower Hoh River, 126 anglers caught 28 steelhead, which is a little less than one per every four anglers.

These numbers really only reveal an increase in pressure on those rivers.

The Calawah River, meanwhile, had a great fishing weekend, according to the numbers.

Only 20 angers were interviewed, but 18 steelhead were kept or released.

“In a normal year, in the week between Christmas and New Year, success rate should be near [one fish per angler] once or twice,” Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said.

“Seems to be running about one per four anglers, except at the Calawah [last weekend, where] it was one per angler.

“By Seattle area standards, where one fish per 15 anglers is normal, this is great fishing. But by Quillayute standards, these are mediocre counts, especially for the Bogey, but it is better.”

Norden said an inch of rain could make a huge difference, or at least provide an indication of what kind of run the rivers will have this year.

Dig has four days left

The razor clam dig that started last year will run though the weekend at various coastal beaches.

Here are the dates, beaches and low tides of the remaining days of the dig:

■■ Today: 7:15 p.m.; -1.7 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks.

■■ Friday: 8 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks.

■■ Saturday: 8:45 p.m.; -0.9 feet; Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Mocrocks and Copalis.

■■ Sunday: 9:31 p.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors.

No digging will be allowed on any beach before noon.

Diggers are limited to 15 razor clams per day, and they must take the first 15 they harvest.

Report cards are due

If you had a crab or hunting license in 2013, you have less than a month to let the government know how you did.

The crab harvest ended Tuesday evening, and crabbers are required to report their winter catch by Saturday, Feb. 1.

Catches can be reported online, dropped off at a nearby state Department of Fish and Wildlife regional office, or mailed to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife address on the card .

Also, hunters who purchased tags for black bear, deer, elk or turkey are reminded that reports are due by Friday, Jan. 31, for each 2013 license, permit or tag that was purchased.

That’s your homework. Get to it.

Master Hunter applications being accepted

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife will accept applications for its Master Hunter Permit Program from Wednesday, Jan. 1, through Feb. 15.

According to the state, this program is designed to promote safe, lawful and ethical hunting, and to strengthen our state’s hunting heritage and conservation ethic.

Master hunters are enlisted to remove problem animals that damage property. They also participate in volunteer projects that focus on increasing access to private lands, habitat enhancement, data collection, hunter education and landowner relations.

“To qualify for the program, applicants must demonstrate a high level of skill and be committed to lawful and ethical hunting practices,” David Whipple, state Hunter Education division manager, said in a news release.

Hunters enrolling in the program must pay a $50 application fee, pass a criminal background check, pass a written test, demonstrate shooting proficiency, provide at least 20 hours of approved volunteer service and meet other qualifications described on the state’s website at www.tinyurl.com/pdnMasterHunt.

Whipple encourages those who enroll in the program to prepare thoroughly for the written test, as applicants are allowed only one chance to retake the exam.

There are about 1,850 certified master hunters currently enrolled in the program, which is now administered by state’s Wildlife Program.

Enrollment was closed during 2013 to allow the state Department of Fish and Wildlife time to review the program, clarify its role and identify strategies to better engage members in high-priority volunteer work.

________

Sports Editor Lee Horton’s outdoors columns appear here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 01. 2014 5:17PM
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