MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Rain coming this weekend should help fishing and hunting

WANT AFFIRMATION FROM a high power?

Start praying for rain on the North Olympic Peninsula. It won’t take very long for you to get a favorable response.

When it comes to the wet stuff around these parts, ask and you shall receive. It’s that sunshine thing that sometimes leaves us wanting.

Thus, the “problem” of the day for Peninsula anglers — low and clear rivers — can only be seen as temporary.

This is, after all, a North Olympic Peninsula fall.

You don’t need the “Family Guy” weatherman to tell you what’s coming.

Yes, my dear Peninsulites, “It’s gon’ rain!”

Gobs of fish

That’s good news for salmon anglers because rivers out west are teeming with coho and kings.

“It’s been tougher, but still there’s gobs of fish around,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“The fish are there, but they are not very bitey [because of the low water conditions]. A little rain would get them active and run fishing from OK to pretty good again.”

The Sol Duc and Hoh rivers have both been steady producers the past few weeks.

That shouldn’t change during the next seven days, either, with both about to get a splash of rain. As long as it doesn’t rain too much, that is.

The Bogachiel and Calawah have a few fish as well, but as Gooding said, “there’s so many more fish in the Sol Duc and Hoh, everybody is going there.”

Most of the fish are coho, but anglers have caught a fair amount of kings this year as well.

“There’s a definite increase this year in the number of kings being caught over the last few years,” Gooding said.

“There’s still way more silvers, but the number of kings being caught is up a fair amount. The nice ones I’ve seen are in the 35- [to] 38-pound class.

“I think the biggest [silver] I’ve seen . . . was 24 pounds. That is a dandy silver, and I’ve seen and heard of some more in the 20-pound range.”

The water issues out west are also occurring near Port Angeles and Sequim.

Anglers are picking off a few coho on the Elwha and Dungeness, but a little rain would certainly help.

“A lot of the fish are already up in the hatchery [on the Dungeness],” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

“I think there’s a bunch of fish down below, but they are waiting for water to move.”

Obviously, the lure of love should bring more spawners in soon enough.

“It’s been fair, nothing really hot,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

“Not much is happening on the lower end at all. It’s basically from the 101 bridge on up. The fish just aren’t rolling on the bottom.

“It should rain this weekend, and that should bring some silvers in from the bay . . . if there are any fish in the bay.”

On the hunt

The salmon aren’t the only ones getting a little randy on the Peninsula.

Reports of an early rut for bucks continue to surface as well.

That should help out the modern rifle set, which get to target deer through Oct. 31 in each of the Peninsula’s nine Game Management Units (GMUs).

“It would be very early to see that activity,” said Aunspach, who witnessed an aggressive buck himself earlier this week.

“I’ve had a couple of different people tell me they’ve seen the same thing, where there’s some pre-rut activity where these bucks are interested.

“It looks like this rut is going to come on strong as this season winds down. It’s just going to get better every day.”

Hunters should also benefit from the blustery forecast on the horizon.

With a few less leaves on the trees and few more antsy deer moving around, the season’s slow start could be in for a change.

“I’ve seen three, and they were all really nice bucks,” Gooding said. “Typically you see a bunch of spikes shot and some two points, but I just have not heard of a lot of them being shot.”

Said Aunspach, “There’s a few deer being taken, but it’s a little slow. That’s typical for the weather we’re having.

“It’s going to improve as we go into this weekend.”

More hunting

A change in weather should come at the perfect time for bird hunters as well.

Duck season opened for five days before closing again Thursday. The season starts up again this Saturday.

Hunters now can scout out 140 acres of public hunting grounds west of the mouth of Dungeness River on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

There are several other pieces of private property around the area, so it behooves hunters to check signs posted around it outlining the rules for hunting.

A few other hunting notes:

• The modern firearm elk season is set to open Nov. 6-16 in the Hoko, Dickey, Pysht, Sol Duc, Goodman, Clearwater, Matheny and Coyle (except for elk area 6071) GMUs.

Buglers had a rough time bringing in the bulls during the archery and muzzleloader seasons.

• The Dungeness Recreation Area offers pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday mornings through Nov. 30.

Due to the tightness of the hunting grounds and close proximity of other hunters, hunter orange must be worn at all times.

Also . . .

• Saltwater angling has slowed down considerably in Marine Areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

About the only good choice for saltwater salmon now resides in the calm waters of Area 12 (Hood Canal).

• Washington Trails Association will gather a volunteer work party at Dosewallips State Park on Sunday.

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

• The Gardiner Salmon Derby Association will host a “Taste of Italy” fundraiser at the Gardiner Community Center on Nov. 6.

The event will feature live and silent auctions that will include fishing trips, vacations, sporting event tickets and various other items.

Proceeds will support the nonprofit Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby (formerly the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby) on Presidents Day weekend.

Dinner tickets cost $15 and must be purchased in advance. To do so, contact Marylou Tatum (360-797-7710) or Linda Hanel (360-797-0050).

• Admiralty Audubon’s Stephen Cunliffe will lead a trip to Fort Flagler to view migratory birds Oct. 30.

Viewers can expect to see recent arrivals like loons, grebes and ducks. A group will meet at the Haines Place Park and Ride near Safeway in Port Townsend at 7:55 a.m.

To pre-register for the trip, contact Cunliffe at 360-437-0292 or sjaycee@mac.com.

• The Wapiti Bowmen Archery Club will host a late season 3-D archery shoot on Saturday, Nov. 6.

The shoot will feature 20 full-size 3-D animals at unmarked distances at the club’s 20-acre wooded range at 374 E. Arnette Road in Port Angeles. Cost is $5.

For more information about the club, send an e-mail to wapitibowclub@gmail.com.

• Winterfest is set for Nov. 19-20 at the Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St., in Port Angeles.

The annual fundraiser for the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club usually includes a dinner and movie event that Friday night with live and silent auctions.

A second movie showing is generally scheduled the next night as well, with a ski swap that Saturday afternoon.

• The Coastal Conservation Association-North Olympic Peninsula chapter will hold its monthly meeting in Port Angeles on Nov. 2.

The possible closure of Lake Sutherland and recent crab season changes will be the focus of the meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. at Downriggers Waterfront Restaurant, 115 E. Railroad Ave.

• The next set of evening razor clam digs is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 5-8 at several ocean beaches, pending marine toxin testing.

Kalaloch Beach, which had the second best harvest rate during the initial opener in early October, is set to open to digging Nov. 5 and 6 after noon.

For more information on coastal razor clams, visit http://tinyurl.com/2avte8x.

• Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson will hold a roundtable-style meeting in Aberdeen on Nov. 15.

Residents are invited to attend and discuss fish and wildlife issues in the state at the meeting, scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at the Grays Harbor Community College Hub, 1620 Edward P. Smith Drive.

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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