By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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A group of friends comprised of buddies from high school and friends made while those buddies attended Western Washington University have camped for Memorial Day since they were college freshman in the spring of 2001.
They've gone to places across much of Washington and Oregon, like Lake Ozette, Potholes State Park, the Oregon coast and Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon's Blue Mountains.
Three years ago I joined them for a jaunt down I-5 and across the Cascades to Suttle Lake near Sisters, Ore.
While packing, I must have thought the warmth of the high-desert sun would envelop me and render cold-weather clothing unnecessary, because I arrived for camping with two heavy fleece sweatshirts but no waterproof jacket or winter parka in case of poor weather.
Even worse, I packed a thin, warm-weather-appropriate sleeping bag.
The reality of my shortsightedness (some would call it stupidity and they'd be right) set in that first night when temperatures dipped below freezing.
Off to town we went the next morning to purchase a heavy sleeping bag to remedy the sleeping situation.
But what does the portly gentleman do when no big and tall stores can be found to purchase a waterproof jacket?
He borrows an extra poncho from a friend and in doing so, acquires a brand-new nickname, “Pauncho,” a portmanteau of my tummy paunch and the protective rain garment.
I also was captured on camera taking a break from the wind, rain and hail to read inside my friends car, albeit with a portion of the poncho caught in the passenger door.
The poncho was gifted to me at the end of the trip and was the first item I packed, along with cold- weather gear, for Memorial Day weekend camping at the Hoh Rain Forest in 2012 and Curlew Lake last year.
There was no need for anything but shorts and T-shirts as temperatures approached 80 degrees all weekend at our camp along the Hoh River.
After arriving during a rain squall at Curlew Lake, I broke out the now-beloved and traditional poncho while helping set up camp.
But soon the sun came out, the poncho was stowed away and fun was had.
The common sense lesson here: Don't wish for the weather you want and maybe, you know, glimpse at the upcoming forecast and pack for all types of weather.
I didn't expect sleet and freezing winds in central Oregon and didn't come prepared, a dumb and chilly mistake.
Having learned my lesson, I didn't expect sunshine and warmth in the rain forest; but when we received just that, at least I was prepared.
Take my advice and do the same this weekend, the camping experience will be so much better if you do.
Port Angeles derby
Final preparations for Saturday's and Sunday's Port Angeles Salmon Club Halibut Derby were underway when I spoke with club president Lee Hancock Thursday.
“We've got one more meeting tonight to tie up loose ends and then start setting up in the morning,” Hancock said.
Hancock will fill his usual volunteer role in gutting and cleaning the halibut for successful derby participants.
His dirty job provides a popular benefit for the crowd waiting for results.
“I started saving the stuff the halibut are eating and showing that to the crowd,” Hancock said.
“My wife even has an octopus beak that she found in a halibut's stomach and kept in rubbing alcohol.”
The derby forecast calls for 55 degrees and cloudy with winds up to 15 miles per hour Saturday and calmer winds with temperatures around 55 and a 50 percent chance of showers Sunday.
Bob Aunspach of Swain's General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles expects the derby to offer up some “pretty darn good results.”
“Weather plays a big role, but if people can get where they want to go they should have success,” Aunspach said.
He said that a 15-mile- per -hour wind speed “is very manageable, but it gets much tougher around 20-25 and above.”
The tides for Saturday and Sunday will provide a reasonable fluctuation as well.
A 1.15-foot low tide is set for 6:49 a.m. Saturday, with a 4.39-foot high tide rolling in at 1:04 p.m.
Sunday's low tide of 0.18 feet is 7:33 a.m. with a high tide of 4.87 feet coming after the derby has wrapped at 2:57 p.m.
“As long as you aren't running a big minus where there's a big 7- to 8- foot drop it should be solid,” Aunspach said.
“When you get into those big minuses, that's what makes it tough.”
There should be enough current for those anchoring and using scent bags to pique the fish's interest and attract some strikes.
If fishing keeps up like it was Thursday morning off of Port Angeles, then most derby-goers will head home happy.
“We heard that there were 23 boats in by 10 a.m. Thursday with 30-some fish,” Aunspach said.
Derby tickets cost $40 per person and are valid for one or both days of the derby.
Salmon Club members also will sell tickets today at derby headquarters at the Port Angeles Yacht Club, located at 1305 Marine Drive.
While there, anglers can pick up one of 150 launch permits valid during the derby and provided by the Port of Port Angeles.
These permits, along with derby hats, will be distributed on a first-come-first-served basis at the Yacht Club.
Halibut may be landed between a line due north from Low Point to the west and a line due north from the base of Dungeness Spit to the east in the waters of Marine Area 6.
While tempting, anglers can't stray into Canadian waters.
Prize purse for the derby is $20,000, with the winner taking home $5,000, an amount that should purchase enough lemon and garlic for a lifetime of flattie filets.
Runner-up will receive $2,500 and third place $1,500, with the amounts dropping down all the way to the 30th place angler picking up $135.
West End report
Fishing was hot and heavy out west, with more than 300 boats counted at the Makah Marina in Neah Bay last Saturday.
“Last week we had a great turnout, the La Push Marina was full and turning boats away and we had about 100 or 200 extra boats come out here,” said Dawn Lawrence of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay.
She mentioned a 36-pound specimen as the largest salmon landed.
Salmon and halibut are on the agenda again this weekend and Big Salmon Resort will hold a Four-Header Fishing Derby on Saturday.
Tickets are $25 and available at the resort.
“It will be a day of madness but should be a lot of fun,” Lawrence said.
Anglers can go after hatchery chinook, halibut, lingcod and sea bass in the derby.
The biggest flattie will get 50 percent of the buy-in and the biggest salmon will get the other 50 percent.
If you can't land a more premier species, a $300 prize will go to the angler landing the biggest lingcod and $200 for the biggest bass.
The derby is open from daylight Saturday until the final weigh-in at 6 p.m.
Prizes will be announced at 7 p.m. as well as a drawing for hats, rods and other gear.
“Next year we are planning on teaming up with Price Ford for a chance to win a truck,” Lawrence said.
Aunspach headed to LaPush with some friends last Saturday and it turned into a quick and plentiful trip.
“Our five-person group limited out, landing 10 lingcod and five halibut within an hour and 50 minutes,” Aunspach said.
“Most guys were focused on the bottom fishery, I didn't see too many doing double duty with salmon.”
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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 email@example.com.