WANT A LONG-winded discussion?
Try speculating what makes salmon move into the rivers.
Moon cycles, moisture, a highly motivated libido . . . one could point to several reasons, real or imagined, to explain the movement of man’s greatest mystery.
Whatever the case may be, the fish have definitely arrived in several fishing outposts across the North Olympic Peninsula.
From the Hoh all the way to the Hoodsport, fall salmon season has hit full swing.
“This time of year they are coming, and honestly it doesn’t matter [about the conditions],” said Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks.
“They are going to come regardless. They don’t have a choice.”
Unfortunately, they do have a choice about whether or not to tug at the end of your line.
And despite the exceptional numbers of fish entering rivers, many are opting against the shiny hook and its pretty colors.
“There’s enough of them that they are still catching fish, but with a little water and a little color it certainly gets much better,” Gooding said.
“Really, for the average guy, it’s just the water. You get some decent water and then fling a spinner out there and they will grab it.”
Thursday night’s rain will likely help matters for anglers in the Quillayute system (Dickey, Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc).
The Sol Duc dropped quite a bit after last weekend, according to Gooding. Yet it should get into fine shape by the end of the week with a shot of water.
That might also push some fish up toward the Sol Duc Hatchery, which has yet to see any fall coho.
Thick in Dungeness
Quite the opposite is true of the Dungeness Hatchery.
Specialist Jeff Gufler said his facility has already seen some 2,000 coho reach its traps this season, a majority of which came during the last week.
Those are tremendous numbers for the Dungeness, which had only 75 fish at this point last fall.
“We’re looking good,” Gufler said. “It’s a lot better than the last couple of years. By the end of [last] week it came up to 1,700 [CFS], and we got a whole bunch of fish.
“It dropped back down, and this first part of the week it’s been pretty good fishing.”
There’s more than a few chum for the taking all the way down in Hoodsport.
While the hatchery hasn’t reported any increases in numbers during the past couple of weeks, Gary Florek of G & M Hardware (360-877-9834) in Hoodsport said he’s seen some nice fish taken out in front.
“It’s looking pretty good,” he said. “I saw a guy carrying one the other day that was probably close to 30 pounds. It’s not too uncommon to have 20 pounders.”
Don’t be surprised if a few bucks start marking their territory.
The height of the rut is still weeks away, but some of the bigger fellas like to find a lady before things get testy.
One hunter that came through Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles scored a four-pointer traveling with eight does earlier this week, according to Bob Aunspach.
Such eagerness is not all together uncommon in late October.
“They are starting to see some rubs showing up right now,” Aunspach said.
“When they start rubbing certain areas, definitely that has started. This is kind of a pre rut. The later we get into it, the more chances we have that some of those bucks will be hanging out with the does.”
Throw in some damp, dark conditions, and buck movement should be on the rise during the next week or so.
That coincides with the early modern firearm season, which ends Oct. 31. The late season for blacktails from Nov. 19-22 occurs near the end of the rut.
Modern rifle hunters already scored a few during this past week, according to Aunspach, although not in eye-popping fashion.
Gooding in Forks caught wind of the same news.
“I’ve heard of a few deer being shot, but it’s pretty tough skidding,” Gooding said. “It’s not been real red-hot for deer, plain and simple.”
One can always take a shot at the birds as well.
Grouse and geese are both fair game on the Peninsula. Duck season opens back up on Saturday after a brief hiatus.
The gray weather and dark nights of the last few days should stir things up for this weekend on each of those fronts.
“If it’s rainy, stormy and what not, it’s hard to get out at night and fill your belly up,” Gooding said of the grouse.
“They have to do it during the daytime when you can see them.”
Duck season lasts through Jan. 31 throughout the Peninsula. Canada geese can be hunted through Oct. 29 and also from Nov. 7 through Jan. 31.
Grouse will have to fend off trackers through Dec. 31.
Kalaloch returned to rave reviews during last weekend’s razor clam openers.
Diggers took down an average of 13.9 clams per person during the two-day harvest last weekend, the first in two years at the Olympic National Park beach.
The official numbers from Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager Dan Ayres: 620 digger trips and 8,640 clams harvested.
“[Kalaloch] has definitely recovered,” Ayers said. “Overall it was very good. The clams were not as small as we’ve been telling folks. There were some five-inch clams, some well over four inches.”
The Kalaloch average was right on par with the rest of the coast in terms of production, with diggers averaging 13.98 clams per person coast-wide.
“The best digging was definitely around the campgrounds,” Ayres said of Kalaloch. “That’s what we’ve been telling folks. It definitely drops off the farther south you go, which has typically always been the Kalaloch story.”
The next set of razor clam digs on the coast is set for Nov. 4-7 at Long Beach and Twin Harbors. Kalaloch will not re-open to digging until the weekend of Nov. 14.
Both sets of dates are pending marine toxin testing. For more information on razor clams, visit http://tinyurl.com/yle5zp4.
Also . . .
• The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club will hold its annual Winterfest fundraiser the weekend of Nov. 20-21 at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles.
There will be a dinner followed by a showing of the Warren Miller movie “Dynasty” on Nov. 20. A ski swap and encore movie presentation will be held Nov. 21.
• Admiralty Audubon’s Ron Sikes will lead a birding trip to the Sequim coast on Saturday, Oct. 31.
Birders will stop at John Wayne Marina, Port Williams, 3 Crabs, Oyster House and Cline Spit.
There are two different meeting spots for the group: the Park and Rider across from Safeway in Port Townsend at 8 a.m., or the south parking lot at John Wayne Marina at 8:40 a.m.
• The Jefferson County extension of WSU Beach Watchers will hold its 11th annual WSU Watershed Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday, Oct. 31, at its offices at 201 W. Patison St. in Port Hadlock.
The keynote speaker is Dr. John Stark, director of WSU’s salmon toxicology research laboratory. He will discuss pesticides in the water and its potential impacts on aquatic life.
The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested to ensure a seat.
To do so, contact Darcy McNamara at 360-379-5610 (ext. 230) or email@example.com.
• Several lakes will close to fishing at the end of October.
Among them are Aldwell, Crescent, Ludlow, Horseshoe, Mills, Ozette, Sandy Shores and Silent.
All of the upper elevation lakes inside Olympic National Park also close at the end of the month.
Lake Tarboo in Jefferson County stays open through the end of November, while Gibbs in Jefferson and Leland, Sutherland and Wentworth in Clallam are all open year-round.
• A portion of the Adventure Route, a 24-mile long back-country trek linking the Elwha River to Lake Crescent’s Spruce Railroad Trail, is now closed to recreational use.
The closure falls between mile 3.2 and 5 on the trail, a portion that is actually on a logging road between the trailhead and the Eden Valley area.
The entire trail from Highway 112 to Eden Valley Road will be closed this winter because of logging.
• A public meeting on the state’s new draft wolf conservation and management plan, one of 12 hosted by Fish and Wildlife this fall, will be held Nov. 5 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Guy Cole Convention Center at Carrie Blake Park, 212 Blake Ave., in Sequim.
The draft wolf plan is available on the Fish and Wildlife Web site at http://tinyurl.com/ylcrptl.
Copies of the DEIS are available at Fish and Wildlife regional offices and public libraries. Comments will be taken at the meetings.
A final Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared following the public comment period, and will be presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for consideration.
• The Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to adopt a new hatchery and fishery reform policy at a public meeting in Olympia on Nov. 6-7.
The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. both days in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington St. S.E. The commission will consider adopting a proposed hatchery and fishery reform policy on Nov. 6.
A complete meeting agenda is available on the commission’s Web site at http://tinyurl.com/yk5anys.
• Fish and Wildlife will hold a series of public meetings discussing a new draft conservation plan for Puget Sounds rockfish.
The lone meeting on the Peninsula will be held in the Raven Room at Skookum Inc., 385 Benedict St., in Port Townsend from 4-6 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Public comment is open through Nov. 19, with comment also welcome at the public meetings.
Comments can be submitted by e-mail to SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov or by U.S. Mail to WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.
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__________Matt Schubert is the outdoors columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays.