MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: A good weekend to go after steelhead in area’s rivers and streams.

OH, THE WEATHER outsideis wet.

And the anglers are sure to fret.

Because there isn’t any place to go.

The river’s blown, the river’s blown, the river’s blown.

But it’s shown some signs of stopping. No doubt, some streams are dropping.

So forget about that pesky cold.

Grab the pole, grab the pole, grab the pole.

Steelhead season

Since I’ve run out of verses, and perhaps whatever readership I still have, I’ll go at this thing with some brevity.

This weekend is no time to check items off Junior’s Christmas wish list.

We’re talking about the prime of hatchery steelhead season here.

Anglers have maybe four more weeks to experience a close encounter of the clipped kind . . . if the weather cooperates.

The way things are shaping up, the next few days might be the best opportunity left.

(And let’s face it, the little brat probably has enough XBox games to keep his soon-to-be carpal tunnel-laden hands busy ’til rapture.)

“We’re going to be fishable [today]. I don’t know that it’s going to be great, but it’s going to be doable,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“Saturday is probably going to be pretty good.”

That’s because things were pretty good before this last spat of rainfall.

Numerous rivers spit out steelies at a good rate, especially the Bogachiel near Forks.

“There were quite a few fish around. It’s really been good fishing,” Gooding said of the Bogey.

“They are getting some out of the Calawah too, but it’s the Bogachiel plain and simple [that has really produced].

“There’s quite a few fish, and they are nice fish, six to 10 pounds. I saw one that was 16 pounds the other day.”

The Bogachiel Hatchery reported 265 more winter steelhead in its traps this week, putting the season total at 415.

Rivers are far from anglers’ only option in the coming days, however.

“Just about every little stream around has had some fish in it,” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

“It’s that time of year.

“I know the Sooes, the Pysht, Lyre, Elwha . . . . everything had fish, even some of the smaller creeks like Goodman.”

One spot you might want to check off: the Dungeness.

Its hatchery has seen just three steelies reach its traps this season and none in the past week.

Story of the Hurricane

The winter sports season officially kicks off this weekend at Hurricane Ridge.

That may or may not include organized skiing and snowboard activities, however.

Mountain manager Craig Hofer said he will make the call this afternoon concerning this weekend’s ski opener.

Visit the PDN’s Web site (peninsuladailynews.com) later today for an update.

“I’m thinking it’s a 50-50 crapshoot at this point,” said the man responsible for grooming the Ridge the last 35 years.

One need not strap on skis to enjoy the winter season at Hurricane Ridge this weekend (see “five things” for one option).

Today is the beginning of a two-week holiday period in which Hurricane Ridge Road will open daily from 9 a.m. to dusk (excluding Christmas).

All drivers are required to have tire chains.

Always check road and weather conditions before your trip by phoning the park’s 24-hour road conditions hot line at 360-565-3131.

Information on current weather conditions at the Ridge is available at http://tinyurl.com/8rdfdk.

For more information on ski and snowboard activities at the Ridge, visit www.hurricaneridge.com.

Bird’s the word

Birders tallied 142 species during the Sequim-Dungeness Christmas Bird Count on Monday.

That number puts it right on the 15-year average for the count, which is easily the most productive on the Peninsula.

“The level of the general awareness of birds is pretty high around here, so we’re doing pretty well,” count director Bob Boekelheide said.

More than 100 birders braved the cold to participate in the tally.

And the group came across thousands of feathered friends during the 24-hour counting period, including dozens of Eurasian collared doves.

It seems the Sequim-Dungeness area has become the latest colonization point of the collared doves, which are native to Europe and Asia.

The birds were first introduced to Florida in the early 1980s and have slowly made their way across the continent.

One was spotted in the Sequim-Dungeness count in 2006. More than 30 were counted Monday.

Of course, many other interesting discoveries were made during the count as well (way too many to list here). Obviously, that speaks to the value of such an endeavor.

One can still make a contribution to that knowledge base by participating in one of two remaining counts on the Peninsula.

Admiralty Audubon will hold its Port Townsend tally this Saturday.

Those looking to join can contact Dick Johnson (360-385-5418).

A potluck will follow the count at the Rosewind Commons, 3121 Haines St., in Port Townsend beginning at 6 p.m.

The Port Angeles area will have a count on Jan. 2. The contact for that tally is Barb Blackie (360-477-8028).

There is a $5 participation fee for each, with proceeds supporting field analysis of the collected data.

That fee also entitles counters to the Christmas Count issue of American Birds.

Hunter Ed

Bambi might be able to take a breather, but that doesn’t means hunters should.

Even as big-game hunting season comes to a close throughout the Peninsula, future hunters can gear up for next fall by attending mandatory hunter education classes.

There are four separate classes scheduled in Port Angeles and Sequim during the next nine months, with sessions in February, March, May and August.

The Port Angeles classes will be held at the Clallam County Veterans Center, 261 South Francis St., and the Sequim class in May will be at Sunnydell Shooting Grounds, 292 Dryke Road.

The actual class dates are as follows: Feb. 2, 4, 9, 11 and 13; March 2, 4, 9, 11 and 13; May 4, 6, 11, 13 and 15; and Aug. 3, 5, 10, 12 and 14.

All first-time hunters born after Jan. 1,1972 must complete a Hunter Education course in order to qualify for a hunter license.

The cost of the class is $5.

Students receive instruction in firearms safety, wildlife conservation and sportsmanship.

To register, contact Darrell Spidell at Hi-Caliber Guns (360-417-0300) or e-mail Lisa Gouveia (lisa@pahuntered.com).

There is still a late season for archery deer open in the Coyle and Pysht GMUs. Both close after Dec. 31.

Forest grouse season also lasts through Dec. 31, while ducks and Canada geese are fair game through Jan. 31.

Also . . .

• Crabbers are running out of time to score some tasty crustaceans.

Recreational crabbing season comes to an end after Jan. 2 in Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

• Diggers can ring in the new year with a bag full of razor clams.

Harvest dates are tentatively scheduled for Dec. 31 through Jan. 3 at five ocean beaches, including Kalaloch. As always, approval of the digs is pending marine toxin testing.

• Olympic National Park will hold a free avalanche awareness class on Jan. 7.

The class runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and will be at the North Olympic Library System in Port Angeles, 2210 S. Peabody St.

For more information on both classes, contact North by Northwest Surf Co. at 360-452-5144.

• Discover Your Northwest will be holding its annual holiday sale at a number of Olympic National Park locations.

The Olympic National Park Visitor Center, Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center and the park’s information center in Forks will all have items on sale at a 15 percent discount.

That includes books, DVDs, maps, stuffed animals, puzzles and more.

• Public comment on the Puget Sound rockfish draft conservation plan will be taken through Jan. 4.

The plan is available on Fish and Wildlife’s Web site at http://tinyurl.com/yjs8d7o. Those who would like a copy of the plan in print can call 360-902-2844.

Comments can be submitted by e-mail to SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov, by FAX to 360-902-2946, or by U.S. Mail to: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Stories welcome

Want your event listed in the outdoors column?

Have a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique, why not share it with our readers?

Send it to me, Matt Schubert, Sports Department, Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362; phone, 360-417-3526; fax, 360-417-3521; e-mail matt.schubert @peninsuladailynews.com.

__________

Matt Schubert is the outdoors columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays.

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