MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Coho opener makes Sekiu crazy

CRAZY COMES TOSekiu this weekend.

With wild coho retention opening up in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) on Saturday, the crowds are sure to arrive en masse.

If things continue on like they have in the last few days, so too will a bunch of dead Humboldt squid.

In yet another odd twist, the North Olympic Peninsula’s wayward visitors began beaching themselves in Clallam Bay this week.

“There must have been 150 on the beach this morning,” Gary Ryan of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu said. “They all just beached themselves at the same time.”

Yes, it was a Hale-Bopp-like mass suicide of epic proportions. It seems the existential nature of their existence proved to be too much.

Or, perhaps, they just couldn’t bear the thought of the onslaught headed their way this weekend.

For there will be a crush of coho anglers hitting the western end of the Strait beginning Saturday. And have no doubt, they will take no prisoners.

“It can get pretty wild around here on the openers like that,” Ryan said, “It’s kind of comical. It’s like opening day of trout season and a derby mentality rolled all into one.”

They should have plenty of coho to choose from.

Anglers have been hooking a fair amount of silvers the past week.

That isn’t like to change anytime soon either, considering the coho traditionally run past Sekiu into early October.

“The guys are complaining constantly about having to release wild fish [right now],” Ryan said.

“Some guys will go out deep and catch them, and others are starting in shallower and working their way out.

“You don’t see very many [pinks] around anymore. Occasionally someone gets one, but mostly it’s a silver thing from here on out.”

More salt

Wild coho retention is nothing new to Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

Anglers have been allowed to keep such fish since the salmon season began in mid-July.

And that fishery has remained productive in recent weeks, according to Wayne Bibbins of Down Home Charters (360-643-1960) in Port Townsend.

“I wouldn’t call it hot, but it’s been good, steady fishing,” Bibbins said.

“The fish that we’ve been catching have been all really nice. We’re hoping with this rain that we got that more fish are coming through.”

The same large coho anglers saw in the Strait are beginning to make their way past Port Townsend.

It’s just a matter of whether or not they are on the bite.

“The area we’re fishing is more of a transition area where the fish are not feeding as aggressively as they are in Neah Bay and Sekiu,” Bibbins said.

“They are honing in for the rivers. It’s sort of in between ocean and river fishing really.”

Anglers have hooked into a few coho in Area 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) as well.

State creel checks reported about one coho for every two rods at docks in that area last week. That’s not bad for an area not considered a coho hotspot.

A non-selective fishery for coho and chinook gets under way Oct. 1 in Area 6, where anglers will be able to retain one chinook as part of their two-fish daily limit.

Through Sept. 30, all chinook, wild coho and chum must be released.

Coastal salt

The highly-productive coastal salmon season is winding down in Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), with both coming to a close after Sunday.

Methinks there won’t be too many tears shed over the closure, since both fisheries have slowed down in recent weeks.

“It got really slow on the ocean,” Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in Forks said.

That was, of course, after a premier salmon season that saw anglers hook the highest coho totals — 6,652 in Area 3 and 13,218 in Area 4 though 12 weeks — since the legendary summer of 2004.

A small portion of Area 3 will reopen to salmon fishing from Sept. 26 through Oct. 11.

That will be accompanied by the Last Chance Salmon Derby next Saturday and Sunday in LaPush.

The event includes prizes for coho and chinook categories, with the first-, second- and third-largest fish all earning cash rewards.

There will also be prizes for the largest lingcod and bottomfish. Tickets cost $30.

For more information, contact the Forks Chamber of Commerce at 360-374-2531.

Archery hunting

Archers are running out of time to bag an elk.

The archery elk season is set to close after Sunday, giving bow hunters only a couple more days to take advantage of some prime conditions.

Not only have recent rains put animals on the move, but the bulls are in the rut (translation: feeling frisky).

That combination has led to a number of elk getting taken, especially in the Clearwater GMU (Game Management Unit).

Mike Deese of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles knows of a couple, including his son, Dan.

The 19-year-old took down a 5-by-6 from 60 yards away, his third bull in the last three years. Pops didn’t do too badly either, although both of his animals were deer.

“It seems like they are doing all right,” said Mike Deese of the archery elk hunters. “The elk are going in rut is what’s happening.”

Archery deer season ends Sunday in the Dickey, Sol Duc, Goodman and Matheny GMUs, while the Hoko, Pysht, Clearwater, Olympic and Coyle close Sept 25.

The modern firearm and muzzleloader seasons for high buck hunts in Peninsula wilderness areas is also under way and will continue through Sept. 25.

There will be a special youth hunt for ducks, geese and coots next weekend from Sept. 26-27.

The hunt is open to hunters under age 16 who are accompanied by an adult. The adult is not allowed to hunt during the special youth season.

“The special youth season was created to give young people a chance to develop their hunting skills under the supervision of an adult,” said Mick Cope, upland game manager for the Fish and Wildlife, in a news release.

“That experience is invaluable both for new hunters and for the future of hunting in our state.”

New rules

Time to contact your attorney.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing some new sportfishing rules, effective 2010-12, that are sure to confuse.

The Public will get a chance to review those proposals at a series of meetings during the next few weeks, including one held at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., in Port Angeles on Oct. 6.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Room J47 on the college campus.

Numerous rule changes are being proposed for the three-year period and can be viewed at Fish and Wildlife’s Web site (http://wdfw.wa.gov).

State officials will discuss those proposals during the meeting, while allowing for public comment.

Comments also can be submitted by mail to Fish and Wildlife Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at preuslmp@dfw.wa.gov or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501. All written comments must be received by Nov. 7.

The public also will have an opportunity to provide testimony and written comments on the proposed rule changes during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Nov. 6-7 meeting in Olympia.

Expect more on this in future outdoors columns.

Shooting news

Here’s a couple shooting events coming up at the Peninsula Rifle and Pistol Club, 2604 W. 18th St., in Port Angeles.

• The club will host a First Step pistol and revolver familiarization class next Saturday, Sept. 26 at 10 a.m.

Howard Blair, a former Coast Guard Chief Gunners Mate, will give recent gun purchasers a chance to learn safe firearm use and operation

Space is limited, so pre-registration is encouraged. To do so, contact Blair at 360-457-3813 or 6blairbears@q.com.

• The Northwest Peninsula Friends of the NRA committee, which will hold its annual fundraising dinner at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles on Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Funds raised from the Northwest Peninsula committee and others throughout the state form the grant pool from which the NRA Foundation awards grants to shooting sports clubs for facility improvements and shooting sports programs.

The Peninsula Rifle and Pistol Club received a $4,652 grant from the NRA Foundation this past year in addition to last year’s grant of $5,000 from the Foundation and a $2,000 grant from the NRA’s range grant program. All grants were for facility improvements.

(See “Bets bets” for another shooting event.)

Also . . .

• The Dungeness River Audubon Center will hold a series of beginning birding classes starting Tuesday.

The six-session course will meet from 7-9 p.m. on Sept. 22 and 30, and Oct. 6, 13, 22 and 27. The focus will be on basic bird identification, types of birds, bird behaviors and more.

The class is limited to 16, and costs $40 for River Center partners and $60 for non-partners. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. To do so, contact the River Center at 360-681-4076.

• Crabbers have until Monday to report their summer catch of Dungeness crab to Fish and Wildlife either via mail or the Internet.

Failure to report by the deadline will result in a $10 fine.

Cards can be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The Web site for reporting is located at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

• Washington Trails Association is accepting submissions for its seventh annual Northwest Exposure Photo Contest through Oct. 16.

Entries can be mailed to: Northwest Exposure Photo Contest, Washington Trails Association; 2019 Third Ave., Suite 100; Seattle, WA 98121.

For more information, visit www.wta.org.

• The Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association is offering classes for beginners and novices from Sept. 26 through Oct. 24 through the Clallam County Family YMCA.

The beginner class will meet each Saturday from 10-11:30 a.m., while intermediate rowers will meet from 8:30-10 a.m.

For more information, contact Tim Tucker at tim@ccfymca.org.

• The Klahhane Club continues to take on new members for its year-round hiking club on the Peninsula.

Hikers must do four “get acquainted” hikes, meet a sponsor for 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.

• Admiralty Audubon will hold its first field trip since last spring next Saturday, Sept. 26.

Ron Sikes will lead a trip to Kah Tai Lagoon Nature Park and Point Hudson from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. To register for the trip, contact Sikes at 360-385-0307 or sikes@olympus.net.

Call us, photos 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.

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

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