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Peninsula Daily News
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to fix the starting date for the wild steelhead retention season.
SOME NICE FISHING has been happening on the North Olympic Peninsula lately, and there's no reason to think that the good fortune won't continue through the weekend.
Knock on wood.
The water conditions of the West End rivers are solid — not too high, not too low.
Brian Menkal of Brian's Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim fished for steelhead on the Hoh River earlier this week and said the water was “a nice, green color.”
Menkal said five fish were caught, but none of them were big enough to keep.
Size hasn't been the issue for other anglers, though.
Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks has seen photographic evidence of steelhead between 18 and 30 pounds being caught on the West End rivers, mostly the Hoh and Sol Duc.
“There is not a ton of fish [on the rivers], but, boy, the last few days I've seen some big ones,” Gooding said.
“If you catch a 30-pound steelhead, it's like a hole-in-one on a par-5.
“You better take a good picture of it, because you ain't catching another one — that would be like winning the lottery two weeks in a row.”
These big catches were only good for photographs and memories, though.
They were all wild steelhead and had to be sent back into the river from which they came.
Besides, as Gooding said, “It's good to have a fish like that in the gene pool.”
Beginning Saturday, Feb. 16, and lasting until April 30, anglers can harvest one wild steelhead for the entire year. Again, that is one per year, not per day.
However, Gooding noted that many anglers don't take advantage of the wild steelhead “opening.”
“Most people don't [keep wild steelhead],” Gooding said.
“Steelhead are a lot more fun to catch than they are to eat.”
Gooding did recently see a nice-sized hatchery steelhead that was caught in the Bogachiel River, which he said weighed about 14 pounds.
The West End weather forecast for the weekend is favorable, too. It doesn't look like there will be too much rain and the temperatures should be in the mid- to high-40s.
The bad news is those irresponsible and dastardly seals are still ruining everything on the Bogachiel and Calawah rivers.
More razor clam digs have been approved by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife after marine toxin tests showed the clams on the selected beaches are safe to eat.
The digs start today at Twin Harbors beach and run through Tuesday with four beaches included in the digs.
Long Beach will also be open for digging from Friday through Sunday, and Copalis and Mocrocks will be open Friday and Saturday.
Once again, Kalaloch is not one of the participating beaches, which is no surprise.
Here is the schedule for the digs, along with evening low tides and beaches:
■ Thursday: 4:22 p.m., -0.5 feet — Twin Harbors.
■ Friday: 5:11 p.m., -0.9 feet — Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.
■ Saturday: 5:56 p.m., -1.0 feet — Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks.
■ Sunday: 6:37 p.m., -0.9 feet — Twin Harbors and Long Beach.
■ Monday: 7:17 p.m., -0.5 feet — Twin Harbors.
■ Tuesday: 7:54 p.m., 0.0 feet — Twin Harbors.
No digging is allowed before noon. State shellfish manager Dan Ayres says the best digging typically occurs one to two hours prior to low tide.
Ayres also reports that most diggers harvested the 15-clam limit during last month's digs.
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.