I USED TO operate on a couple of assumptions in life:
• It gets really cold at some point every year, and that’s called winter.
• Then, about six months later, it gets really hot, and that’s called summer.
All that flew out the window, however, when I moved from the Midwest to the North Olympic Peninsula.
It just never gets really hot or cold around here. It’s always somewhere between 40 and 65 degrees.
And I’m fine with that.
That being said, I must place myself firmly in the minority and say that I really enjoyed this summer thing during the past week.
I could get used to it . . . maybe even three months of it.
Call me crazy.
I just think it needs to get really hot at some point every year.
It’s just what I know.
Forget about a silver salmon show.
Neah Bay anglers have some nice kings to target.
“We’ve had about a week-and-a-half of some fairly good king fishing,” said Joe Lawrence at Big Salmon Resort (360-645-2374) in Neah Bay.
“It is really good, some of the better fishing we’ve seen in a few years.
“We’ve seen some nice fish, a lot of nice big mature kings,” some in the 38- and 40-pound range.
Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) anglers have picked up the pace the past couple of weeks, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the king catch so far this year.
According to Lawrence, it’s been the bait anglers that have seen the most success during the recent uptick.
“I think the feed is being pushed toward the beach, and the kings kind of follow them,” he said.
“The big king bite has been down by Spike Rock and Father and Son . . . way in shallow, anywhere from 20 to 80 feet of water.”
There are more than enough coho around as well.
Most of the silvers can be found closer to Neah Bay inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Lawrence said.
“They get their downriggers down about 30 to 40 feet and start catching away” in 300 to 400 feet of water, he said.
While the king bite isn’t quite as strong in Area 3 (LaPush), the silver action has been about as good as any fishery in the state.
On Thursday it was quite bitey, according to Randy Lato of All-Ways Fishing (360-374-2052) in Forks.
“Everybody was going out [deep], and I got into 150 feet of water and there were birds everywhere,” he said.
“I said, ‘Let’s try this out.’ It wasn’t long and we had a couple on.
“Everybody was turning around and coming back [after that]. It was one after another.
“Nice fish, too, nice quality fish, pushing that teen weight really hard.”
It was inevitable.
Humpapalooza 2009 hath arrived.
The 5.1 million pink salmon expected to return to Puget Sound are currently passing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
From the Sekiu River all the way to Ediz Hook, the salmon best known for its spawning deformity (a hump) is making its presence known.
And make no mistake, they’re taking no prisoners.
“The last couple of days, the humpies are starting to dominate that offshore fishery,” said Chris Mohr of Van Riper’s Resort (360-963-2334) in Sekiu.
“They eat anything in sight.”
Added Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles: “I heard there were so many pinks that you can hardly get to the kings anymore.”
Indeed, the pinks were already beginning to outnumber kings by a good number in Area 6 (eastern Strait) last week.
It appears Area 5 (Sekiu), which saw an almost equal run of coho to pinks last week, has joined that party as well.
“The humpies are starting to arrive in bunches,” Mohr said.
“[It’s] more like 60 or even 65 percent humpies to coho now. King fishing has been fair.
“It had a good start, and then it slowed down for a week or so.
“It picked back up again for a couple of days, then slowed down again.”
The kings can be found in shallow water anywhere from the Caves to Eagle Bay, Mohr said, with a few swimming around Kadaka Point as well.
The pinks and coho, meanwhile, are three miles out toward the shipping lanes.
“It’s 35 to 40 feet [down] for the coho,” Mohr said, “and the humpies seem to be a little bit deeper.”
In Area 6, the best king fishing has been out by Freshwater Bay.
One particularly productive day (July 21) saw state fish checkers count 31 anglers with 34 chinook at the Freshwater Bay ramp.
“We were out there on Saturday, [and] it was OK,” Aunspach said.
“We had a king right off the bat, and we got another that was 11 pounds.
“I’m assuming they’re right here off the [Ediz] Hook, too.”
If not, anglers can always go for the pinks.
There are plenty of those around.
Punch the time card and get to work, Port Townsend anglers.
The Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet) salmon fishery is turning into a real lunch pail affair.
“We have to work hard for our fish, but we’re getting them,” said Wayne Bibbins of Down Home Charters (360-643-1960) in Port Townsend.
“It definitely hasn’t been hot.
“Just the fellas that know what they are doing are doing fair to good. It’s not a slam show at all.”
Anglers are picking off chinook here and there inside Mid Channel Bank and along Whidbey Island.
There’s even a few pinks showing up in the upper level of the water column (0-60 feet), according to Bibbins.
“They are not very fierce fighters, but they sure do provide a lot of action,” he said.
Troll a white flasher, and anything pink behind it, and you’re likely to run into a humpy or two.
As for the chinook, it’s the same old story.
Troll flashers and hoochies (or spoons) with some bait right off the bottom and hope for a nudge from the salmon gods.
Yogi better watch his back.
With black bear season beginning on Saturday, he’s likely to get picked off if he spends too much time next to a berry patch.
The opener annually signals the beginning of hunting season throughout the Peninsula.
Next we’ll be going after elk (early September), forest grouse (Sept. 1) and waterfowl (later September).
Aunspach at Swain’s in Port Angeles said the hardest part about bear hunting is actually spotting the elusive beasts.
“You can be looking at the same spot for an hour and see one pop up [suddenly],” Aunspach said.
“They are all around us here.
“It’s just about finding a good vantage point where you can look into these clear cuts.”
Black bear typically stand at about five to six feet, yet they manage to stay pretty low to the ground most of the time.
A lot of times, the best thing to do is just keep your ears open.
The bear will rustle around in the bushes in search of food, so while you might not be able to see them right off the bat, you can hear them.
“There’s definitely a lot of them out in the Hoh area,” Aunspach said.
“That’s probably one place where I’ve heard of more killed than any other place.
“Just find a good place, sit still, listen and watch.”
Black bear season is open in each of the Peninsula’s nine GMUs — game management units — through Nov. 15.
The next big opener for hunters will be Sept. 1, when archery deer, grouse and cougar hunting begins.
The dog days of summer did little good for Peninsula streams this week.
Already extreme low and clear conditions got even worse as temperatures ran into triple digits in some places.
The Calawah was running at an unheard of 59 cubic feet per second Thursday afternoon.
The Sol Duc was barely floatable by raft, according to Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks.
“You have more water in your bath tub than there is in [the Sol Duc],” Gooding said.
“Some summer coho came in last week. When they first came in, they caught a few.
“[Now] they are just settled into those big deep spots, and forget it.”
On the Hoh, which has a few sea-run cutthroat and steelhead, “it’s just gray as can be,” said Gooding, referring to the glacial runoff.
“I don’t know if you can see an inch.
“Early in the morning, actually you can fish it, but, boy, it grays up [later on].”
The upper Elwha River west of Port Angeles is probably option No. 1 for any stream angler at this point.
Later afternoon dry fly fishing tends to be good this time of year.
And reports have been positive in recent weeks.
If that doesn’t strike your fancy, head to the nearest (open) lake and get your gear down.
The water is likely as warm as it’s been all year, meaning the trout will be deeper in the water column than normal.
Also . . .
• Crab season continues throughout the Peninsula, with Hood Canal now also open Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Crabbing is open seven days a week in Areas 4 and 5, while Areas 6 and 9 join the Canal in being open Wednesdays through Saturdays.
• The Peninsula Rifle and Pistol Club will hold its monthly light rifle match in its indoor range on West 18th St. in Port Angeles at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The course of fire is 20 shots standing in 20 minutes.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. There is a $10 fee, with a cash prize going to first place.
For more information, contact Ed Phillips at 360-461-2510.
• The Bellingham chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its sixth annual Sporting Clays Fun Shoot at Sunnydell Shooting Grounds in Sequim on Saturday at 10 a.m.
The event benefits Ducks Unlimited’s efforts to protect wetlands for North American waterfowl.
For more information, contact Sunnydell at 360-683-5631.
• NOAA researcher Dr. Casey Rice will give talk about “The Forsaken Fjord: Science, Society, and Biological Decline in Puget Sound” at the Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers’ monthly meeting on Monday.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Loomis Log Cabin at Lincoln Park in Port Angeles.
• Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer Phil Henry will speak at the monthly meeting for the East Jefferson Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers on Tuesday, Aug. 11
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Marina Room at Hudson Point Marina, 103 Hudson St., in Port Townsend.
• Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society will conduct a field trip in search of early migrant shorebirds at Dungeness Landing Park next Saturday, Aug. 8, at 7 a.m.
For more information, contact Dave Jackson at 360-683-1355.
• Waters West, 140 West Front St. in downtown Port Angeles, has a couple of free fly-tying seminars left on its docket this summer.
An Aug. 8 seminar will focus on summer-run dry flies. An Aug. 22 session will go over freshwater cutthroat flies.
For more information, contact Waters West at 360-417-0937.
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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 [email protected]
Matt Schubert is the outdoors columnist for the Peninsula Daily News. His column appears on Thursdays and Fridays.