MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Ski and snowboard school opens Saturday

TO SKI OR to snowboard? That, my dear Peninsulites, is the question.

The answer might seem inconsequential for some.

But for those little tykes getting ready to enroll in ski and snowboard school at Hurricane Ridge this weekend, we’re talking about a serious life choice.

For whichever sport they choose sets up their value system later in life.

Consider for a moment what each group does when it steps up to the edge of a ridge line.

The skier looks for the line that is most efficient, one that will get it down the hill fast and with the least amount of hiccups.

The snowboarder, however, has few qualms with a tangential trip and actively searches out detours that might inspire a certain flair or panache.

Thus, skiers develop an affinity for straight-line efficiency and utilitarian sensibility, while snowboarders lean toward style and aesthetic sensitivity.

Important stuff, to say the least.

As Maximus once said to his Roman troops in Gladiator, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

I’m pretty sure he was talking about winter sports.

Ski school

That fateful choice will have to be made soon.

Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard School begins classes Saturday and Sunday atop the mountain.

Both of the intermediate and bunny rope tows should be in operation each day, as they were last weekend.

The Poma lift, however, still appears to be at least two weeks away from getting up and running, mountain manager Craig Hofer said.

“I’ve got work to do and some wiring to do and we still need snow,” Hofer said. “A couple of feet [of snow] would be nice.

“We’re going to continue to work on it, so we’re ready when it comes.

“All we can do is hope for the best.”

Ski and snowboard classes run for five straight weeks — a makeup weekend is also set aside in case of road closures — with sessions available to all skill levels ages 4 and older.

Lessons are offered on Saturdays and Sundays in two sessions that begin at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Classes are small and run an hour for toddler ski lessons (ages 4 to 5; cost is $100 for the five-week series) and 90 minutes for snowboard lessons and ski lessons for those age 6 and older ($125).

Openings are still available for each session except the Saturday morning ski class.

Private lessons are available by request at $35 an hour.

Lift tickets and equipment rentals must be purchased separately.

Single-day lift tickets cost $22 for the intermediate and bunny lifts, and $20 for a half day. All-day and half-day bunny lift tickets are $12.

Skis are available for rental on the bottom level of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Snowboards can be rented from North by Northwest Surf Co., 902 S. Lincoln St. in Port Angeles.

For more information on ski school, visit hurricaneridge.com or phone Heidi Simpson at 360-452-9264.

Rivers rise

Might want to get that plunking gear handy.

After two straight days of persistent rain, West End rivers likely won’t be ready for conventional steelhead gear real soon.

The way Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks tells it, rivers are teetering on the brink.

“It’s going to be a couple of days before we’re back fishing,” Gooding said, “and if the rain keeps going, it will be longer than that.”

That doesn’t include the notoriously slothful plunking set, however.

That lot of lager-lapping lazies may very well find some success staring at their Spin-N-Glos this weekend, except for maybe on the Hoh River.

Rivers were relatively low and clear before the wet stuff came the Peninsula’s way this week.

Thus, two or three tributaries, Sol Duc included, should be in good enough fishing shape once things calm down.

“People could go plunking [today].” Gooding said. “It’s starting to let up.

“You’ve got all night for [the rivers] to drop and then [today] will be OK for plunking.

“OK but not great, but you’ll at least be able to go.”

A total of 793 hatchery steelhead returned to Bogachiel Hatchery traps during the past week.

It’s likely that we’ve already reached the apex of the hatchery run, however, given that it tends to taper off right around this time.

There should still be a few hatchery fish trickling in through the end of the month.

After that, steelheaders’ focus will shift more toward the native run.

At that point, the Hoh and Sol Duc rivers are typically the best bet.

“They were getting some fish here and there [before the rain],” Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles said.

“They had to work for them, but they were catching some fish.

“Now it gets a little more scattered out. You’ve got to cover a little more ground, but you’re also looking for some of the bigger fish returning.”

Anglers won’t be able to retain those big fellas until mid-February.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife moved the annual opening date for wild steelhead retention from Dec. 1 to Feb. 16 last year on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Clearwater, Dickey, Hoh, Quillayute, Quinault and Sol Duc rivers.

Those eight rivers are the only waters in the state where wild steelhead retention is allowed.

Blackmouth opener

Anglers will get another fishing option real soon on the Peninsula.

Winter blackmouth season is set to begin Jan. 16 when Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) opens to salmon fishing.

“It’s been slow in other areas of central Puget Sound — Marine areas 10 and 11 — during the last weeks of December,” state salmon manager Steve Thiesfeld said in a news release.

“But hopefully the fish will be there mid-January and the fishery will start strong.”

Area 9 anglers will have a full month to prepare for the North Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby, set for Presidents Day Weekend on Feb. 19-21.

Formerly known as the Discovery Bay Salmon Derby, the event will cover a significant chunk of the Peninsula’s saltwater fisheries (500 square miles).

That includes a portion of Area 6 from Tongue Point all the way east toward Marrowstone Island near Port Townsend.

The top clipped salmon in the ladder will take home $10,000.

For more information on the event, visit gardinersalmonderby.org.

PSA fundraisers

A pair of area Puget Sound Anglers (PSA) chapters will hold fundraisers in the coming weeks.

Here are the details:

• The PSA-East Jefferson Chapter will hold its annual potluck dinner and silent auction fundraiser this Tuesday in Port Townsend.

The potluck begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Marina Room of the Hudson Point Marina complex at 130 Hudson St.

• PSA-North Olympic Peninsula Chapter will hold its annual fundraising dinner and auction Jan. 20 in Sequim.

Doors open at 5 p.m. at the Guy Cole Convention Center inside Carrie Blake Park in Sequim, with a free spaghetti dinner served at 5:30 p.m.

Silent auctions will be held all night, with a live auction following dinner.

Proceeds provide a majority of the funding for the Kids Fishing Program at the Sequim water reclamation pond.

For more information, contact Herb Prins at 360-582-0836.

Also . . .

• Crabbing came to a close Sunday night throughout the Peninsula.

Crabbers now have until Feb. 1 to submit catch reports to Fish and Wildlife or face a $10 fine when they purchase their 2011 crab endorsement.

Catch reports can be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091, or submitted on-line at http://tinyurl.com/yhjxf79.

• The coming of a new year has upped the age requirement for boater safety cards by five years.

Now, all boaters under the age of 35 are required to take and complete a boater safety course.

By 2014, the safety course and card will be required for everyone born after 1954.

To apply for the boater card or for more information on safety classes, visit www.boatered.org or phone 360-902-8555.

• Peninsula Trails Coalition will hold the first of four straight Friday night slideshow fundraisers tonight at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St., at 7 p.m.

Tonight’s show will focus on the Midway Atoll (aka Midway Island) wildlife sanctuary, one of the most unique and least visited sites of its kind in the world.

Admission is $5, with funds going toward supplies and lunches for volunteers working on Olympic Discovery Trail.

For more information, phone Gail Hall at 360-808-4223.

• Admiralty Audubon’s David Gluckman will lead a birding trip to Snow and Salmon creeks at Discovery Bay this Saturday.

A group will meet at the Haines Place Park and Ride across from Safeway in Port Townsend at 8 a.m. before heading on to the old railroad grade by both creeks as well as Gardiner and Blyn beaches.

To register for the outing, contact Gluckman at 360-379-0360 or cgluckman@aol.com.

• Fish and Wildlife is accepting enrollment applications for its Master Hunter program through Feb. 15.

Master hunters can be enlisted into controlled hunts to remove problem animals that damage property or threaten public safety.

Applicants must meet specific qualifications.

Enrollment includes a non-refundable $50 application fee, a criminal background check and 20 hours of volunteer service pertaining to the state’s wildlife resources.

For more information, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/masterhunter.

• Hunters who report this year’s hunting activities for black bear, deer, elk or turkey by Jan. 10 enter themselves into a drawing for nine special hunting permits.

All hunters, whether successful or not, are required to submit hunting reports for those species by Jan. 31.

Hunters can report by phone (877 945-3492) or the Internet http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.

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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