MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Steelhead are still running strong

ONE WOULD’VE THOUGHT Morgan Freeman was enough.

We give FIFA the movie star of “Shawshank Redemption,” and they give us the cold shoulder on our 2022 World Cup bid? For Qatar?

Air-conditioned outdoor stadiums or not — Qatar plans to build 12 such modern marvels and donate them to poor countries (Huh?) once the games end — I’m at a loss.

Isn’t it 150 degrees over there during the summer? Don’t more people live in the Puget Sound region than all of Qatar?

Those guys don’t even know to put U’s after their Q’s. And now they are going to host the greatest sporting event in the world instead of the United States?

Isn’t that sort of like opening an outdoors column by talking about soccer?

Uh . . .

Steelhead time!

Steelhead season continues to chug along out west.

The notably finicky fish are swimming all over North Olympic Peninsula rivers.

And other than a brief respite due to blown out rivers, anglers have had a good go at them during the past two weeks.

“Elwha, Lyre, Bogachiel, Calawah . . . guys are even hitting Morse Creek,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

Indeed, just about every traditional hatchery steelhead river in the area has produced a fish or two.

That includes the Elwha, which gets a decent run of hatchery steelies in late November and early December, according to Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles.

“It’s an early run that shows up there,” Aunspach said. “It shows up around Thanksgiving time, and it can have a pretty good early run in.

“I had a guy who said he got one the other day and missed a couple. So they are there.

“If the water is still actually fairly colored, it might be something to consider plunking.”

That wouldn’t be necessary on the Lyre, of course.

That Strait of Juan de Fuca drainer is small enough that it comes into shape pretty quickly after a lot of rainfall.

The Bogachiel and Calawah should be in pretty good shape this weekend as well.

Anglers might want to wait on the Sol Duc, however, according to Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks.

“It’s in decent shape but traditionally, it’s about Christmas when it starts to turn on,” he said.

“There’s a few fish around [the Duc], but there ain’t ever going to be a lot of them this time of year.”

The Bogachiel Hatchery reported its first 72 returning adults of the season this week.

There should be a lot more to come.

“We’re still getting fish,” Gooding said. “For a few days there it slowed down. Monday night it poured rain down and it put all the rivers out.

“Now we need another little push of rain to put some more fish in.”

Saltwater stuff

Blackmouth season has been awfully quiet on the Peninsula.

Still, there are salmon to be had in Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) for those willing to cover some water.

“There are plenty of blackmouth in Hood Canal, but they are scattered all over the place, so anglers are having to search for them,” said Ward Norden of Quilcene.

“This make it a ‘trollers only’ show for the moment with Hotspot flashers or pearl white dodgers either trailed by green hornet or apple core colored squids.

“Normally February is when they concentrate for herring moochers like me.”

Areas 5 (Sekiu) and 9 (Admiralty Inlet) both closed to blackmouth fishing at the end of November.

So now, Hood Canal is the only saltwater show around. Unless, that is, one is going after Dungeness crab.

The entire Strait and Areas 9 and 12 are open to crab fishing through Jan. 2.

Norden also said anglers could target some “fat squid” inside Hood Canal at night.

It’s really important to fish around a light source when looking for squid.

Since lit-up public piers are few and far between in the canal, a boat is needed.

“At Point Whitney all you need to do is float out to the end of the old navy pier and tie off for an evening slack tide,” Norden said.

Hunting winds down

Hunters are running out of time.

Most late deer and elk seasons are set to close in mid-December on the Peninsula, and things aren’t getting any easier.

According to Aunspach in Port Angeles, hunters have to really put their time in.

“It’s very difficult this time of year,” Aunspach said in reference to elk hunting.

“They’ve had archery season, muzzleloader season, rifle season, and those bulls have definitely broken away from the herds for the most part, especially the bigger ones.

“They go hunker down and they just disappear.”

Late muzzleloader (Hoko and Matheny) and archery elk (Pysht, Goodman and Clearwater) seasons will come to a close after Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, muzzleloader deer (Dickey only) ends on the same date, while archery deer (Coyle and Pysht) comes to a close after New Year’s Eve.

“[Deer] will cross through going somewhere else, but overall those have gone into the thicker stuff too because that’s where the food is right now,” Aunspach said.

“Now you’re starting to look for the mold growth or more open timber where they are feeding under that canopy.”

Waterfowl hunters have through Jan. 30 to hunt for ducks in the area.

Goose hunts are open seven days a week through Jan. 30, while upland bird hunters have through Dec. 31 to hunt forest grouse.

While reports haven’t been red hot on either hunt, each has been steady.

Razors return

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife threw its stamp of approval on this weekend’s razor clam digs.

I’ll go ahead and do the same, but for different reasons than a simple “these clams won’t kill you if you eat them.”

Pleasant weather and favorable surf conditions will make for downright decent digging at Kalaloch, Copalis, Mocrocks, Long Beach and Twin Harbors this weekend.

Diggers who visit the Peninsula’s lone razor clam outpost, Kalaloch, should encounter swells at or below five feet during both afternoon openers Saturday and Sunday.

Harvesters have done well at Kalaloch whenever Mother Nature has cooperated this fall. That included a 14.6 clam-per-digger day during the last set of digs in November.

Kalaloch, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks all open Saturday and Sunday only, while Twin Harbors will be shovel ready each afternoon today through Monday.

Here are evening low tides for the upcoming dig:

• Today — Minus 0.8 feet at 4:43 p.m.

• Saturday — Minus 1.2 feet at 5:29 p.m.

• Sunday — Minus 1.3 feet at 6:14 p.m.

• Monday — Minus 1.2 feet at 6:56 p.m.

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

Cascade carpooling

Ski season isn’t just limited to the Peninsula.

Olympic Peninsula Ski Network plans to put together several weekday group trips to Cascade-are ski resorts this winter.

The group will hold a couple of organizational meetings in Port Angeles and Sequim during the next two weeks to begin the planning process.

The first meeting will be held at the Port Angeles public library, located at 2210 S. Peabody St., next Tuesday at 3 p.m.

There will be another meeting a week later at the Sequim public library, 630 North Sequim Ave., on Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, phone Margaret Low at 360-417-5503.

Also . . .

• The winter sports community once again came out in full force for Winterfest two weeks ago.

The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Education Foundation raised $31,000 at the annual fundraiser on Nov. 19.

Proceeds go toward scholarships for children who want to join the ski school and ski team, as well as lift operations and maintenance.

• Jim Karr will give a presentation on dam removal projects during the Greywolf Flyfishing Club’s monthly meeting Wednesday night in Gardiner.

Karr’s presentation is titled “Removing Dams to Restore Rivers: A Florida Case Study with Lessons for the Elwha River.”

It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Gardiner Community Center, 980 Old Gardiner Road.

• The North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association will discuss Dungeness River nutrient enhancement at its monthly meeting Tuesday night in Sequim.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Moon Palace Restaurant’s Lotus Lounge at 323 E. Washington St.

• Waters West Fly Fishing Outfitters in Port Angeles plans to hold a spey casting class on the Hoh River, water levels permitting, at 9 a.m. Sunday.

Instruction will be geared toward beginner and intermediate spey casters. Rods, reels and lines will be provided. Steelhead fishing techniques will be covered as well.

Cost is $95. To sign up, contact Waters West at 360-417-0937.

• Washington Trails Association will hold a volunteer appreciation party at the Quilcene Community Center, 294952 U.S. Highway 101, on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Food and refreshments will be provided. To register, visit www.wta.org.

• Dungeness River Audubon Center will warm up for its annual Christmas Bird Count with a trip around Dungeness Valley on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A group will meet at Railroad Bridge Park to view birds of the forests before heading to Dungeness Landing Park at noon to view saltwater birds.

• State Crab Advisory Board member Don Williams will talk shellfish at the Puget Sound Anglers-East Jefferson Chapter monthly meeting Dec. 14 in Port Townsend.

Williams will discuss the Dec. 6 Fish and Wildlife shellfish meeting and future crabbing opportunity.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina.

• Fish and Wildlife is seeking nominations for the Anadramous and Marine Resources Sport Fishing Advisory Group through the end of the year.

The group provides guidance to the state on issues affecting recreational fisheries for salmon, rockfish and other marine species.

Nominations may be submitted to Pat Pattillo by mail: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501; or e-mail Patrick.Pattillo@dfw.wa.gov.

For more information, contact Pattillo at 360-902-2705.

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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