MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Park ranger talks can turn preachy

PAPA DON’T PREACH, but the National Park Service certainly does.

As keeper of some of our country’s most beautiful outdoor landscapes, perhaps it is its duty.

Someone, after all, should spread the word about the importance of allowing the natural world a little room of its own.

That being said, methinks our funny-hatted friends go a little overboard every now and then.

Take my recent stay at the Paradise Inn inside Mount Rainier National Park, where the naturalist rhetoric was coming hot and heavy.

Signs inside my room encouraged me to reuse my towels and bed sheets for days at a time (not a problem, since I do both for weeks at a time myself).

A visitor center movie concluded with a lecture on why we must not touch anything in the park.

A park ranger even finished an evening presentation on the volcanic nature of the Cascade Mountains by awkwardly segwaying into a “reduce, reuse, recycle” message.

(Apparently, since volcanoes are the “great recyclers of the world,” we must do the same. Bet you didn’t see that parallel coming.)

The way it was going, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised to come across literature in the Inn’s bathroom stalls deploring the “evils of the courtesy flush.”

Sure, this particular rant might sound whiny, maybe even petulant.

But if there’s one thing that really grinds my gears, it’s getting preached to over and over again.

Catholic high school will do that to a person.

And now that I’m done preaching about how I don’t like being preached to, let’s move on to the rest of the column.

The fog of Fuca

Merlin unleashed the Dragon’s Breath on the North Olympic Peninsula this week.

A deep fog shrouded salmon fisheries across the Peninsula during the past few days, none more so than those in Marine Areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca).

Given the so-so chinook showing so far, that helped make for a less than memorable fishery.

Chris Mohr of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu isn’t so sure much of it could be blamed on the conditions, either.

“I don’t think they are here,” Mohr said of the big kings. “There’s some decent fishermen here who are putting in their time.

“My buddy, he’s running a charter boat here . . . I haven’t seen him with a fish over 12 pounds for the past week.

“If he’s not catching a few kings, then, for the most part, nobody is.”

While the fog was thick and the wind howling, there were some conditions in anglers’ favor this week, according to Mohr.

Even so, big kings and coho have been hard to come by.

“We’re getting some nice high slack tides in the morning,” Mohr said. “Usually if there’s kings around, that makes for a heck of a good setup. But the last couple of days, it’s just OK.

“It’s averaging a fish a boat or 1 ½ a boat maybe. There’s some blackmouth here in 5 to 12 pounds, but there sure aren’t very many mature kings.”

Things haven’t been much different near Port Angeles either, conditions or fishing-wise, according to Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles.

“Fishing has been tough with the weather,” Aunspach said.

“They’ve had a couple of decent days. Sunday was real good, Monday wasn’t too bad, but Tuesday and Wednesday weren’t [productive].

“It’s going to get better, we’ve just got to be patient.”

Jiggers have found some success in Freshwater Bay, according to Aunspach.

Other than that, however, there’s been few hotspots to speak of.

Coastal news

Coastal anglers continue to wait on the state’s predicted banner chinook season.

Evidence of such a free for all has been few and far between more than a month into the season.

It’s enough to make one wonder if the wave of kings, presumably kicking about in Canadian waters, will ever make its way past Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay).

“Where this big push of kings is that we’re being promised . . . ugh, we’re still looking,” Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in LaPush said.

“We get little squirts where it’s good for a few days, but when it’s not happening, it’s just not happening on those damn things.”

Lato and a few other boats encountered few salmon after venturing 30-plus miles northwest of LaPush on Wednesday.

He spent most of Thursday fishing the Old Man out in front of the mouth of the Hoh river with similar results.

The lone bright spot: “There’s a lot of silvers,” Lato said.

“I was really thinking that heavy northwest [wind] would have pushed some bait and some fish down. I was marking bait, but I’d be damned if we could get any kings going.

“I think there is still a big wad coming. I’m thinking they are just taking their time.”

Such hopeful optimism is likely floating around Neah Bay, too.

Weather has been a big part of the story there as well.

And that might not change this weekend either — for Area 3 or 4 — given the strong winds predicted to hit the area.

“Most people have really been knocked around [the past few days], so fishing has been up and down,” Dean Crittendon of Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay said.

“Table Top has been hitting real good and along the Straits people are getting some nice-sized silvers.

“A couple of other guys did all right around Seal and Sail Rock for lingcod and bass.”

The coastal fisheries are open Tuesdays through Saturdays only with a daily limit of two salmon. All wild coho must be released.

Beginning Aug. 3 all chinook, wild coho and chum must be released east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line.

Area 9 opener

The wait is over.

Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) anglers finally get a crack at saltwater salmon starting today.

“Everyone is getting ready,” Eric Elliot of the Fishing Hole (360-385-7031) in Port Townsend said.

“The boat ramp has been pretty active [with crab season]. [Today] will be insane. It will be nonstop all day long.”

Adding to the excitement is the Quimper Peninsula’s first summer salmon derby in years.

The Chimacum High School Alumni Association will hold a salmon derby Saturday and Sunday throughout Area 9 waters.

As long as 80 derby tickets are sold by Saturday — event organizer Billy Eldridge estimated 75 had been purchased as of Thursday afternoon — the top fish in the ladder will earn $1,000.

The second-largest fish will take home $500 and third $250.

Anglers must bring their fish by water to Port Hadlock Marina between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. and noon on Sunday to get in the ladder.

The awards ceremony will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Marina. Anglers on the prize ladder must be present to win.

Tickets cost $25 per person. Children ages 14 and younger can take part for free (although they still need a ticket).

Tickets are available at sponsoring businesses Four Corners Store in Discovery Bay; Westside Marine and LPL Financial Services/Rich Gastfield in Port Townsend; and Hadlock Building Supply/Just Ask Rental in Port Hadlock.

For more information about the derby, contact Eldridge at 360-821-1007.

Gettin’ fly

The art of the fly is not something one just learns on their own. It must be learned from a master.

A series of fly fishing clinics offered by Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters, 140 W. Front St., in Port Angeles should put you on the path toward a Brad Pitt-like state of moksha.

Here is a rundown of upcoming clinics, both free and paid:

• Intro to fly fishing — Students will spend a day with the Waters West crew, starting at 9 a.m. in the shop on July 24.

Among the topics up for discussion are equipment, knot tying, fly casting, fly selection, reading water, presentation and landing fish.

The class, which costs $75, also includes a field trip with the chance for catch-and-release fishing.

• Intro to fly tying — The two-day class will provide all the basics of fly tying, meeting July 20 and 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Students will learn how to tie nymphs, streamers and dry flies, with all of the materials provided.

Cost is $50 per person.

• Free casting clinics — A pair of clinics will be held at Lincoln Park in Port Angeles, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and Aug. 1.

All skill levels are welcome, and those without a rod are welcome to contact Waters West so that one is provided.

Space is limited for each of the classes. Contact Waters West (360-417-0937) to reserve a spot.

Also . . .

• Sol Duc Hatchery is starting to see a few fish in its traps.

The hatchery reported 50 summer steelhead reaching the facility during the past week as well as the first two summer coho of the season.

Water remains low and clear, with little relief in sight.

In other words, try to be a little sneaky.

• Hand-to-pincer crabbing was tough sledding for many in Dungeness Bay last weekend.

Those dumping crab pots in that particular fishery have done well, however.

Other traditional crabbing locations, like Port Townsend and Port Angeles harbors, have been consistent producers, too.

Sequim Bay has also spit out a few Dungies.

• Hikers can help raise money for Washington Trails Association by participating in the organization’s annual Hike-a-Thon in August.

Participants collect sponsors and pledges from family and friends, then spend the month of August hiking the state’s voluminous network of trails.

Prizes will be awarded for 28 categories, with proceeds going toward trail maintenance throughout the state.

To register for the fundraiser, visit http://tinyurl.com/2g5v8hj.

• The Dungeness River Audubon Center will host a pair of Protection Island puffin dinner cruises today and Saturday.

The Glacier Spirit will circumnavigate Protection Island, giving viewers a chance to see tufted puffins, rhinoceros auklets, gaucous-winged gulls and other seabirds.

The trip will go from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night. Cost is $65 per person.

Contact the River Center (360-681-4076) to reserve a spot.

• Several fish management issues will be discussed at the Coastal Conservation Association-North Olympic Peninsula chapter monthly meeting Thursday.

Among the fisheries that will be focused on are Peninsula salmon, steelhead, halibut and rockfish.

The meeting begins at 6:45 p.m. in the North Olympic Library System’s Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.

• Fish and Wildlife biologists will discuss potential changes to Dungeness crab fisheries at a public meeting in Port Townsend on July 27.

State officials will go over three options for recreational seasons starting in 2011 as well as current management objectives of recreational and commercial crab fisheries.

The three alternatives can be viewed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2010/ 06/ps_dungeness_alternatives.pdf.

The meeting will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Marina Room at Point Hudson Marina, 375 Hudson St.

• Dungeness River Audubon Center will host a six-week class on the ecology of the Dungeness River on successive Thursdays from July 22 to Aug. 26.

The class will meet from 9 a.m. to noon, with subject material focussing on geology, plant and animal communities and human-caused changes that affect the river.

There will be five field trips to locations along the river. The cost is $50 for River Center partners and $75 for nonmembers.

To register, contact the River Center at 360-681-4076.

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 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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