RIVER FISHING HAS been going great guns, but if heavy rains hit as expected starting today, it could blow out some area rivers this weekend.
The new year could start out like the old year as far as strong steelhead fishing on the North Olympic Peninsula.
The steelies have been keeping anglers busy and happy the past couple of weeks.
Dave Hammer of Quilcene caught his very first steelhead this week.
He pulled a steelie probably weighing 18 pounds (Hammer estimates) from the Sol Duc River on Tuesday (see photo on Page B4).
“We went to the Bogachiel, but it was too crowded to fish,” Hammer said.
There were 30 anglers fishing from the Bogachiel’s banks, so Hammer and his friends went to Sol Duc.
Hammer waded into the Sol Duc and began casting a jig.
He was all smiles when he waded back out with his steelhead.
“Fishing has been pretty decent in-between the weather systems,” said Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052).
Lato said Thursday that he was a little concerned about the weather forecast.
Almost two inches of rain was expected to fall by tonight, Lato said.
“That could very well put a damper on some things,” Lato said. “The Sol Duc might stay fishable.”
The Bogachiel, which has been a very popular fishing hole, is slowing down some, but the Hoh and Sol Duc rivers have strong runs right now, according to Lato.
“I was in the Hoh a couple of days ago, and we caught three hatchery fish and two natives,” Lato said.
“We had to let loose the natives, but that’s a pretty good sign [catching five steelies].”
Lato also ran into an angler who caught an 18-pound hatchery fish on the Hoh.
The hatchery run is expected to start slowing down in the next couple of weeks. Then it’s native time.
“We will start getting decent-sized natives in January and February,” Lato said.
March is Lato’s busiest month in the winter season because fish are coming and going.
The downriver ironheads (leaving spawning grounds) are meeting up with the upriver fish (heading to spawning grounds).
Hurricane Ridge is expected to be open today through Sunday, mountain manager Craig Hofer said.
Up to a foot of snow was falling Thursday, but the temperature was rising as day turned into evening.
“Right now it’s 31 degrees on the Ridge,” Hofer said late Thursday afternoon.
It was 25 degrees earlier in the day.
But the warming weather might mean rain on the Ridge today, which could also cause problems.
Always check road and weather conditions before your 17-mile trip up the Ridge road by phoning Olympic National 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.
All drivers going to the Ridge are required to carry tire chains — and be able to use them.
If the road is open, all winter sports activities will be available, including skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
A lot more snow is needed before the Poma lift can be used.
The intermediate and bunny rope tows began operating two weekends ago, making Olympic National Park’s scheduled start date for the first time in recent memory.
Both rope tows should be running once again Saturday and Sunday, with all-day lift tickets costing $20.
Half-day tickets can be purchased for $18 starting at 1 p.m.
Single season passes cost $200 and a family pass $400.
That includes access to all lifts, including the Poma, for the entire season.
For more information on skiing and snowboarding at the Ridge, visit www.hurricaneridge.com.
There are several other winter activities available atop the Ridge.
A popular activity on the Ridge is the ranger-led snowshoe walks, scheduled for 2 p.m. each Saturday, Sunday and Monday holiday through March 28.
Participants get to trek through the snow on snowshoes for about 90 minutes, taking in all of the winter beauty on the Ridge.
Since space is limited, participants are encouraged to register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk 30 minutes beforehand.
The snowshoes are free, but rangers ask for a $5 donation to cover wear and tear.
Organized group snowshoe walks also are available at 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
To schedule a group outing, call 360-565-3136.
Hunter ed classes
The late hunting season for archery deer in the Coyle and Pysht GMUs (Game Management Units) came to a close Thursday.
Any prospective hunters looking to get in on the action next fall can attend one of five separate hunter education courses offered in Port Angeles and Sequim in the coming months.
Classes will be offered in February, March, May, June and August.
Each course is divided into five class sessions each, with the final class held out in the field.
The Port Angeles classes will be held at the Clallam County Veterans Center, 261 S. Francis St., and the Sequim class in May will be at Sunnydell Shooting Grounds, 292 Dryke Road.
The actual class dates are Feb. 2, 4, 9, 11 and 13; March 2, 4, 9, 11 and 13; May 4, 6, 11, 13 and 15; June 1, 3, 8, 10 and 12; 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.
To register, contact Darrell Spidell at Hi-Caliber Guns (360-417-0300), or e-mail Lisa Gouveia (email@example.com).
Razors are ready
Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Kalaloch beaches opened for razor clam digging Thursday.
All five beaches will be open again today.
Kalaloch will be closed Saturday, but the four other beaches will be open.
One beach — Twin Harbors — will open for a fourth evening of digging on Sunday.
Digging is restricted to the hours between noon and midnight.
Harvesters have been quite successful this season when digging conditions have been good.
Additional digging dates in 2010 will be announced later this month, following review of harvest data.
Here are the tides:
• Today — -1.8 feet at 7:01 p.m.
• Saturday — -1.6 feet at 7:45 p.m.
• Sunday — -1.2 feet at 8:29 p.m.
For more information on coastal razor clams, visit http://tinyurl.com/oyekj.
Also . . .
• The last of the holiday bird counts will be held in Port Angeles on Saturday.
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.
• There’s only two days left in the recreational crabbing season, with Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) set to close after Saturday.
Licensed crabbers will then have 13 days (Jan. 15) to submit their catch record card, or face a $10 fine the next time they purchase a state crab endorsement.
Crabbers can report via mail or the Internet.
The mailing address is WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
The online reporting system will be available Jan. 3-15 at http://tinyurl.com/yhjxf79.
• Olympic National Park will hold a free avalanche awareness class on Thursday.
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, contact North by Northwest Surf Co. at 360-452-5144.
• Public comment on the Puget Sound rockfish draft conservation plan will be taken through Monday.
The plan is available on Fish and Wildlife’s Web site at http://tinyurl.com/yjs8d7o.
Those who would like a print copy of the plan can get one by phoning 360-902-2844.
Comments can be submitted by e-mail to SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov, by fax to 360-902-2946 or by mail WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
• The venerable Klahhane Club is taking on new members.
This is the oldest (organized in 1915) year-round hiking group on the Peninsula.
Hikers must do four “get acquainted” hikes, meet a sponsor for the membership application and complete six “qualifying” hikes within six months of applying.
Dues are $12 annually — $9 if you receive the newsletter via computer — with a one-time initiation fee of $13.
For more information, visit klahhaneclub.org.
Stories, photos welcome
Want your event listed in the outdoors column?
Have a fishing or hunting photo?
An anecdote about an outdoors experience? A tip on gear or technique?
Why not share it with other readers?
Send it to 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 is currently on vacation, but he’ll be back next week.
———————————–Outdoor reports appear in the Peninsula Daily News every Thursday and Friday.