OUTDOORS: Snowskate contests highlight final weekend of season for Hurricane Ridge ski area

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

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HURRICANE RIDGE’s ANNUAL snowskate contests will cap an abbreviated ski season this Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend marks the final chance to take advantage of ski area operations provided by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club.

“Conditions are good up on the ridge, there’s been some snow this week and more is expected this weekend,” John Fox, Hurricane Ridge ski and snowboard area mountain manager, said.

“We anticipate the poma lift, the two rope tows [bunny and intermediate]and the tubing area will again be open for this last weekend.”

Snow skate contests

They call this snow skate contest and its surrounding events, Strapless Weekend in the Olympics.

Besides the Olympic National Park entrance fee there’s no charge for those wishing to watch.

I spoke with one of the event’s organizers, Frank Crippen, owner of North by Northwest Surf Co. (360-452-5144) in Port Angeles, about what to expect.

A snowskate is a skateboard deck mounted to a single short ski about 4 inches off of the snow.

Riders aren’t strapped in like on a snowboard or on skis, there are no boots or bindings and participants can ride in their street shoes if they choose.

“It’s more about what [going strapless] doesn’t do for them,” Crippen said.

“It makes everything trickier and harder to pull off, but it’s a super-fun way to ride.”

Park Jam, a freestyle contest in the ridge’s terrain park, starts around 1 p.m. Saturday.

Competitors from across the U.S. and Canada will be practicing all day long.

“You’ll see lots of tricks on jumps and rails, basically anything you can try on a skateboard you can go for on a snowskate,” Crippen said.

Sunday, a takeoff on Mount Baker’s Banked Slalom race, the Hurricane Ridge Almost Legendary Baked Slalom, gets going with racers shredding what should be fresh powder all day.

“We build a snake run and have a twisty-turny race to the bottom all done on a snowskate,” Crippen said.

“There’s plenty of area to set up a chair and check it out.”

To check out last year’s epic Baked Slalom race, visit tinyurl.com/PDN-Snowskate.

Blackmouth hot in PA

I checked in with Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles for the first time and he had some good news and some bad for those looking to fish closer to the major population centers here on the North Olympic Peninsula.

“Last weekend was fabulous for winter blackmouth in Port Angeles,” Aunspach said.

Creel reports back him up, with 23 boats and 36 anglers racking up 24 chinook in the gorgeous weather last Sunday and 19 boats with 36 anglers hauling in 45 chinook last Saturday.

Things might dip a bit this weekend with wet weather forecast and the seasonal tidal change coming overnight on Saturday.

“You might expect it to taper off a little bit because of the tides, as the fishing is better around here on the outgoing tide in the morning.” Aunspach said.

Aunspach added that fisherman are looking into areas near Sekiu and he’s been hearing of some spring chinook being caught out that way.

“They are just starting to get the docks in out there so we should hear a little more from them in the future,” Aunspach said.

Five boats with 16 anglers landed eight chinook Sunday out at Olson’s Resort.

Things are slower toward Port Townsend but Aunspach did mention he’d heard of some chinook activity off of Midchannel Bank.

Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim confirmed Aunspach’s reports and said he’s been hearing some success stories closer to Sequim.

“Plenty of fish were landed last weekend, so if you can dodge the weather the opportunity is there,” Menkal said.

Check before you go

With rain showers forecast all through the weekend I would take care to check the U.S. Geological Survey streamflow charts before heading west for steelheads.

Sol Duc anglers were the biggest winners last weekend with a total of 191 fish plucked out last Friday through Sunday, followed by 98 on those dates on the upper and lower portions of Hoh River, 61 on the Bogachiel and 43 on the Calawah.

“I expect that to be good until the rivers get blown out,” Aunspach said.

Lingcod fishery

Aunspach had a report of lingcod being brought aboard out at the rockpile off of LaPush, but cautioned that anglers were encountering rough water out there and a bigger boat, one above 20 feet in length, is the safer option.

Menkal gave me a short lesson on lingcod methods.

“Lingcod are ambushers,” Menkal said.

“They like the structure they find out there and they find themselves a little cave and if something comes by they grab it.”

Leland warming up

Ward Norden of Quilcene, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, passed along that Lake Leland’s water temperature has reached 44 degrees — a good time to go after the lake’s oversized trout.

“They should be actively feeding now, especially on the south end,” Norden said.

Fly Fishing 101 course

Menkal will offer his Fly Fishing 101 course at his store next to J.C. Penney’s at 609 W. Washington St. in Sequim, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday with part two set for Tuesday, April 8.

He’ll cover rods, reels, types of line, flies to use and the fly fishing opportunities in the rivers, lakes and saltwater of the North Olympic Peninsula.

Cost is $25 and phone ahead to 360-683-1950 to secure your spot.

Fishing the Peninsula

Fishing the Peninsula, a Peninsula College course that intends to help those new to the area become more familiar with the variety of fishing opportunities available here, is set for Friday and Saturday, April 11-12.

The course is taught by Ron Link and consists of a three-hour classroom session from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. that Friday, followed by a fishing excursion on Saturday.

Cost is $76.50.

To register, phone 360-452-9277 or visit pencol.edu.

Link has been a recreational fishing instructor with Peninsula College since 1999 and also has been a licensed fishing guide and commercial fisherman.

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 Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 27. 2014 6:12PM
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