MATT SCHUBERT’S OUTDOORS: Solving mystery that is summer

IT ONLY TOOK five years, and several thousand frequent flier miles, but my parents are paying me a visit at last.

After traveling to such accessible locales as Antarctica, the Galapagos and communist China, they finally found the wherewithal to make the arduous journey from Illinois to the North Olympic Peninsula.

(In related news, I was quite the handful during my teenage years.)

So the question came up: What sort of clothing is needed for a mid-July visit to Peninsula?

As I started to list off the items my parents should pack — shorts, pants, raincoats, parkas, T-shirts, sweaters, boots, sandals — it became apparent that they’d need just about everything in their wardrobe in order to be truly prepared.

That’s the way summers are on the Peninsula.

If there is one thing I’ve learned during the past five years, it’s that nobody knows when, if or how long summer will wrap its loving arms around our fair little corner of the U.S.

In most of the country, you’re all but guaranteed shorts-and-T-shirt weather from June to August.

Here, summer could last a week or a month.

It could never arrive at all.

We simply don’t know.

Right now, the calendar says it’s July, but it still feels like it’s late April.

And in no way do I find that odd.

Yes, you might say I’ve been fully localized.

A scary thought for the rest of the Peninsula.

Strait salmon

Sleep is for the fishless.

The way the early bite went during the first day of salmon fishing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers have but two choices:

Be on the water by the break of dawn, or wallow in skunkish misery.

Both Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait) saw rods bending at a tremendous rate during that critical timeframe.

From the mouth of the Sekiu River all the way to Ediz Hook, the reel action was at its best from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.

“At one point, [state fish checker] Larry Bennett said he had 22 anglers with 38 kings right off the bat this morning,” Chris Mohr of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu said.

“Of course, that was the early birds that got their limit right off the bat.”

The hot spots were nothing new: The Caves, off Slip Point and the Coal Mines about two miles west of Pillar Point.

Said Gary Ryan, also of Van Riper’s:

“I heard it was real hot and heavy when it first started this morning at 4:30 a.m.”

The story was the same out by Ediz Hook, according to Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles.

The sleep-deprived got their chinook, while the rest had to slug it out.

“It was a great bite right at daylight this morning right at 4:30 [a.m.] to about 5:30 or 6 [a.m.],” Aunspach said.

“Fishing was fabulous for a lot of people; lots of chinook.”

The biggest fish weighed into the Port Angeles Salmon Club’s month derby was a 20-pound, 11-ounce beauty caught by Lonnie Torey of Port Angeles.

“[The bite] was right off the Hook for most it,” Aunspach said. “It was pretty hot this morning . . . mostly trollers, but I know some jiggers that did really well today.”

It is usually a good idea to target chinook a little further than normal above the bottom during such an early-morning bite, Aunspach said.

“Always early in the morning there’s a chance of finding the fish suspended a little bit,” he said.

“As it starts getting light, they have a tendency to go down [deeper].”

Hatchery coho are also open to retention in most of Areas 5 and 6, not that they were much of a presence Thursday.

Coho don’t usually show up in the Strait until later on near the end of July.

“Our guys don’t even look for them until this king fishery gets over,” Aunspach said.

Area 5 and 6 (west of a true north/south line from Ediz Hook to Buoy 2) are open daily to hatchery chinook retention through Aug. 15.

There is a two-salmon daily limit.

Coastal salmon

The conga line of kings is slowly making its way down the coast.

After another lost weekend for the special hatchery chinook fisher, things started to pick up some in Marine Areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) during Thursday’s opener.

While there are still reports of quite a few fish yet to make their way south of Canadian waters, the slow trickle was enough to keep things interesting, according to Joey Lawrence at Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay.

“We’re starting to see some kings this morning, now that [recreational anglers] are able to keep the wild kings,” Lawrence said.

“I was talking to a guy who went through Bamfield [off west Vancouver Island], and he said they were still pretty schooled up up there. But there are some coming through the Straits.

“We’ve seen some come from the Green Buoy this morning, and we’ve had a couple of good reports from Swiftsure Bank.

“We’d seen a 26-pounder. The same guy had an 18-[pounds]. Other than that the other ones were like 13-15 pounders.”

The kings weren’t near as plentiful down by LaPush, according to Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052)

He went out about 25 miles northwest of LaPush and ran into just one king.

And that was half of the total chinook total of two caught by LaPush anglers the entire day.

“We’d seen a little push of them there last week,” Lato said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a wad of them coming down anytime.

“There’s a ton of silvers. But I don’t know. We’re trying to talk people into trying for that king [instead of catching two silvers] . . . because it’s just not going to last.”

What Lato is referring to is the relatively meager hatchery coho guideline (1,700) for Area 3 this summer.

If anglers go through that quick enough, it could be a relatively short salmon season on the coast.

Anglers are allowed two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook, in Areas 3 and 4.

“It’s phenomenal silver fishing,” Lato said.

“They are decent-sized for this time of year. We’re seeing 8- to 12-pound silvers.

“It would be tough for somebody to drive out that far and not bring two in, but we’re really pushing to get one silver and keep one punch open for a king.”

Told you so

The not-so-unique summer condition of “low and clear” isn’t going away anytime soon for West End rivers.

As I said last week, and will repeat once again, June through August tends to be a bit of a challenging time for river anglers without consistent liquid sunshine.

Thus, anglers must have a little more guile and a little less garish behavior.

No need to alert the fish to your presence anymore than is necessary.

“You just got to be a little more careful,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

There are a few fish around to target.

Spring chinook, summer steelhead and sockeye salmon are all around, the latter showing up in good numbers in the Sol Duc.

“There’s still some fish around,” Gooding said, “but there isn’t a whole lot of people fishing for them.”

Coming correct on crab

Some of my sharper readers — and by “sharper,” I mean smarter than your average dim-witted outdoors columnist — might have noticed an error in Thursday’s outdoors column.

Indeed, the state did not drastically reduce crabbing seasons in Areas 6, 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 12) (Hood Canal), as my column inadvertently suggested.

Crabbers can go after the Dungeness and red rocks Wednesdays through Saturdays

until the end of Labor Day weekend in each of those areas (not Wednesdays through Thursdays).

For those not counting at home, that’s two errors in the past three weeks from yours truly. Quite the batting average to say the least.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to go ponder a new, more appropriate career path fit for someone of my flagging mental faculties.

Also . . .

• A new cycling event, Ride the Hurricane, will challenge riders to take on the 12-mile uphill ride from Heart O’ the Hills to the top of Hurricane Ridge on Aug. 1.

Participation is limited to 200 riders.

Cost is $25, with payment due by July 15 to the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact Russ Veenema, the chamber executive director, at 360-452-2363 (ext. 13).

• There are spots available for a hunter education course in Quilcene that will run July 12-24.

The class will meet six nights at the Quilcene Yacht Club, with a live fire and walk through test held July 24.

To register for the class, contact Swain’s Outdoor (360-385-1313) in Port Townsend, Just Ask Rental (360-344-3443) in Port Hadlock or Rick Olson (360-765-3947).

• The Olympic chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society will host a botany hike to Mount Townsend the morning of July 10.

The 3.8-mile journey will take hikers through subalpine meadows during the height of wildflower season.

There is a limit of 10 people.

For more information, or to sign-up, contact Sharon Schlentner at 360-379-9810 or sschlentner@waypoint.com.

• The Dungeness River Audubon Center will hold a series of summer nature camps throughout the summer.

Sessions will be held July 12-15, Aug. 2-5 and Aug. 23-26, meeting daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to explore Railroad Bridge Park and do crafts, games and other adventures.

Space is limited to 20 children (ages 8-11). To sign up, contact the River Center at 360-681-4076.

• The Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission is conducting an on-line survey about Olympic Discovery Trail.

The survey takes about five minutes to complete, with all participants entered into a drawing for a stay at the Red Caboose Getaway Bed and Breakfast near Sequim Bay.

To take the survey, visit olympicdiscoverytrail.com.

• The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society will lead a field trip to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery on July 10.

A group will meet at 9 a.m. at Washburn’s Store, 1450 Bayview Ave. in Neah Bay before heading out to view returning shorebirds and seabirds in the area.

For more information on the outing, contact Bob Iddins at 360-681-2840.

• Fisheries biologist Jeffrey June will talk about derelict crab pot removal during the Puget Sound Anglers-East Jefferson Chapter monthly meeting July 13.

June is a biologist with Natural Resources Consultants of Seattle. He will speak shortly after the meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina in Port Townsend.

• Washington Trails will gather an all-day volunteer work party on the Lower Big Quilcene Trail on Tuesday.

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

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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