MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Hurricane Ridge contest for snowboarding videos

“AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME” videos can take a back seat.

Here comes another amateur movie contest sure to leave Bob Saget muttering mischievously.

It’s the Videolympics; a video extravaganza combining Peninsulites’ creative conduits with their uninhibited desires to shred some snow.

Skiers and snowboarders are asked to submit three minutes of footage or less of them taming Hurricane Ridge’s snowy slopes this Saturday or Sunday.

“It’s kind of open to interpretation [what the winning movie might look like],” said event organizer Frank Crippen of North by Northwest Surf Co.

“You could do whatever you want. My personal favorite would be something like ‘What does the Ridge mean to me?'”

Martin Scorseses in waiting can edit in music to the movies, do interviews or simply shoot people doing tricks.

Entry is free and open to all. Participants will receive a free T-shirt for their efforts, with the best video receiving two Poma Lift tickets for next year.

Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club members will determine who that lucky somebody will be at the end of the weekend.

“Whatever is fun and whatever is cool,” Crippen said. “As long as it is not Hurricane porn or anything like that.”

The event is the first of its kind at Hurricane Ridge, which opens to winter sports for the second straight weekend following Hurricane Ridge Road’s extended closure due to a slide that took out 100 feet of road.

For more information about the contest, contact Crippen at 360-452-5144.

Everything a go

The bunny and intermediate rope tows are expected to open Saturday and Sunday at the Ridge.

And unlike last week, snacks and ski rentals will be available at the snack bar and gift shop inside Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboarding School will offer private lessons at $35 an hour.

Lessons will be limited to pairs of two in similar age and ability unless demand calls for larger groups (at a reduced price).

Spots must be requested in advance. To do so, call 360-452-6434.

Ranger-led snowshoe walks are also scheduled for both days this weekend.

The free treks begin at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. A $5 donation is requested.

Space is limited for the 90-minute walks, so participants should register at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center information desk 30 minutes beforehand.

Hurricane Ridge Road opens Fridays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to dusk, weather permitting.

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

For information on skiing and snowboarding at the Ridge, visit www.hurricaneridge.com.

Saltwater salmon

Could this be a hint of things to come?

As was reported in Thursday’s outdoors column, state officials expect a solid chinook salmon season this summer.

Judging by the way things have been going in Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), we might be getting an early glimpse of what that may entail.

Sekiu-area anglers in particular have been scoring salmon at unusually productive rates for the last three weeks.

“We’ve actually been doing quite well,” Donalynn Olson of Olson’s Resort (360-963-2311) in Sekiu said.

“We’re getting nice fish in close at the Caves west of [Sekiu] in about 70 to 130 feet of water. I had one 18-[pounder]. We are getting some in the 11- to 13-pound class, too.”

The biggest fish are being caught in and around Port Angeles.

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles weighed a 19-pound fish caught by Tom Blore on Thursday.

That’s one of two 19-pounders caught so far this season, a period that has also seen a 22-pounder and a 15-pound, 7-ounce fish.

“There’s been plenty of fish in that 7- to 10-pound class, too,” Aunspach said. “It seems like from the beginning it was real hot.

“It slowed off a little bit, but they’ve had a good couple of days. It’s been up and down [Ediz] Hook, the Winter Hole, Freshwater Bay . . . all the summer places are putting out the same for the winter.”

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

Angler effort remains scattered at best in the Mid Channel area, with few successful reports to speak of.

In other saltwater news, lingcod season is set to begin in Area 3 (LaPush) on March 13.

The minimum size for lingcod in these areas is 22 inches, with a daily limit of two fish per angler.

Steelhead stack up?

From all accounts, anglers are heading out west in droves due to river closures throughout the state.

Yet historical data — at least that tallied by state creel checks during the first three months each season from 2003 to 2010 — points to a less dramatic narrative.

Looking at the numbers between 2003 and 2007 — the 07-08 seasonal numbers cannot be accessed — this year’s effort appears to be downright ordinary.

The total anglers counted by state checkers this year is 3,637 on the Quillayute/Bogachiel, Sol Duc, Calawah and Hoh rivers.

The average for the same rivers during the same period of time between 2003-07: 4,273.

Only the Hoh has seen an increase on the four-year average. And that’s negligible at best: 1,462 compared to 1,427.75 from 2003-07.

While the Quillayute/Bogachiel, Sol Duc and Calawah rivers have seen upticks in effort from 2008-09 to 2009-10, most of that can be attributed to Snowpocalypse 2009.

(Remember, that little stretch of snowfall drastically affected commerce throughout Western Washington. This also helps explain why the Hoh, more popular in the relatively snowless months of February and March, saw so many anglers flock to its banks last year.)

Of course, creel check numbers are by no means an end-all, be-all.

There has been three checkers on the West End since 2003. And, obviously, there’s no way they can count every angler on every river.

But it sure is interesting, is it not?

Actual fishing

Perhaps now is the time to get those numbers spiking.

Rivers are most definitely in shape, if not a little on the low side in the case of the Calawah, and there’s plenty of wild steelhead to be hand.

“It sounds like they are catching a few steelhead out west,” Aunspach said. “It is definitely the time of year for those rivers that stay open for those big natives.

“If you are looking for that one big native, [now is the time].”

During a creel check on the Sol Duc conducted during the last four days of February, 78 anglers reported catching 74 wild steelhead (and releasing 64 of them) along with 13 hatchery fish (and releasing four of those).

On the Calawah, 21 anglers reported catching 22 wild fish and releasing 19.

“This is peak season for wild steelhead on most of these rivers,” state fish biologist David Low said in the Weekender. “Anglers need to keep an eye on river conditions, but fishing is definitely good right now.”

Razor return?

Tsunamis aside, diggers scored a fair amount of clams on the coast last weekend.

Kalaloch and several state beaches went virtually dead at the prospect of the tsunami’s rage Saturday. And those who did make it out didn’t exactly ride a wave of success.

Diggers collected approximately 5 to 6 clams per person during Saturday’s dig at Kalaloch, Olympic National Park coastal ecologist Steve Fradkin said.

After those ruckus rollers went away the next day, diggers scored right around 14 clams per person at the park beach.

“Apparently, the surge on Saturday didn’t leave a lot of great habitat available,” Fradkin said. “It’s unclear to me how much of that was tsunami related and how much was just a regional climatic surge. But certainly the combination of it made for not the greatest digging conditions.”

The story was pretty similar at the state beaches, according to state biologist Dan Ayres.

“We had decent digging on the other beaches,” he said. “We had an advisory out on Saturday [because of the tsunami], and a lot of folks paid attention to that.

“But on Sunday we had big crowds out, lots of good digging and lots of happy diggers.

“It was kind of a weird weekend, but it worked out.”

Diggers will get another crack at Kalaloch on March 26-27, pending marine toxin testing, with more dates set for mid-April.

State beaches will also open March 26 through April 1. There will be evening harvests March 26-28 and morning digs March 29 through April 1.

For more information on coastal razor clams, visit http://tinyurl.com/oyekj.

Also . . .

• Kai Wallin of the North Olympic Salmon Coalition will speak at this month’s Greywolf Fly Fishing Club meeting in the Gardiner Community Center, 980 Old Gardiner Road, on Wednesday at 7 p.m..

Wallin will discuss the history of the Salmon Coalition’s work on the Peninsula during her presentation as well as ways to get involved with salmon restoration.

• A pair of club members will talk about their paddle trip along Vancouver Island’s west coast during the Olympic Peninsula Paddlers Club’s monthly meeting at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. 4th St. in Port Angeles, on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The presentation will include photos and videos of the 25-day trip, with time for questions afterward.

• The latest in a series of free fly tying seminars at Waters West is set for next Saturday at 10 a.m.

The seminar will focus on steelhead spey and dee flies (March 13). There will be more free seminars every other Saturday through April 24.

For more information on the seminars or classes, call 360-417-0937 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

• Sno-King Chapter president Ron Garner is the featured speaker for the Puget Sound Anglers-East Jefferson Chapter’s monthly meeting Tuesday night.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina, 103 Hudson St., in Port Townsend. The raffle will include a $150 gift certificate to Salmon University in Kent for two days of classes on salmon fishing.

• Spots are available for a hunter education class offered this month at the West End Sportsmen’s Club in Forks.

The five-sessions course, mandatory for hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972, will meet from 6-9 p.m. on March 8, 10, 15 and 17. The field test will be conducted March 20 at 8 a.m.

Pre-registration is required and can be done by calling 360-374-5718.

• Jeffrey Duda, research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, will talk about current research projects concerning the Elwha River Restoration Project during the fifth installment of Olympic National Park’s “Perspectives” series Tuesday night.

Duda will examine freshwater ecology in relation to the Elwha Dam removal project during his presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, 3002 Mount Angeles Road in Port Angeles.

• Admiralty Audubon’s Dan Waggoner will lead a birding trip from Oak Bay County Park to the parks on Indian and Marrowstone Island on March 13.

Birders will likely run into migrating sea water birds and early warblers during the trip. A group will meet at Oak Bay Park at 8:30 a.m. as well as at the Port Townsend Park and Ride at 8 a.m.

To pre-register for the trip, contact Waggoner at 360-301-1788 or [email protected]

• Strapless Weekend (aka the Almost Legendary Snowskate Baked Slalom) returns to Hurricane Ridge on March 27-28.

The largest cash prize in snowskate history ($700) will go to the winner of the Park Jam, while first place in the Baked Slalom will get $300.

The entry fee is $15 for one day and $20 for two (which includes a free T-shirt. There will be a barbecue each day at 11 a.m., with competition beginning at noon.

For more information, contact Frank Crippen of North by Northwest Surf Co. at 360-452-5144.

• Washington Trails Association will gather a volunteer work party at Lower Big Quilcene Trail this Tuesday.

Volunteers must pre-register 48 hours in advance. To pre-register, contact Washington Trails at 206-625-1367 or visit www.wta.org.

Send photos, stories

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 [email protected]

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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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